A brief report one month into using MathQuill in a class of roughly 300.
-Students like it, of course. We had to turn it off briefly and there was much grumbling.
-As an instructor, I have some pedagogical concerns. The reason students like it is that they no longer have to pay attention to properly formatting their answers: MathQuill does a lot of the thinking for them.
I still want my students to have to think.
For example, with MQ on, I can enter e^9-2x+x^2 and everything is up in the exponent. Previously students were forced to use parentheses: e^(9-2x+x^2).
Others might disagree, but I think it was a good thing that they were forced to use parentheses. Even in written work, students are careless about this, and don't understand why they get marked wrong for omitting parentheses.
An example is using logarithmic differentiation. Many, many students will take the derivative of something like x^x and write their answer (on paper) as
x^x ln(x) + 1, which of course is not the same as x^x(ln(x)+1).
We're doing these problems now, and I've noticed a surprising detail:
if the student leaves out the parentheses in a problem like this, MathQuill will insert them on their behalf, and so they fail to get corrected on a significant error.
Perhaps in some cases students are entering the parentheses, but they definitely don't get displayed in the answer box. See the attached screenshot.
I don't want my students thinking that parentheses don't matter! Thoughts?