Your first source for help in this class should be the textbook. Sit down. Read the question carefully. Think about it. Make a real attempt to apply the methods shown in class to solve the problem. Dig around the example problems in the book. Understand that upon first reading the question it will be confusing. It was probably designed to be confusing. That’s the way your boss will give you assignments, and you might as well learn how to deal with such confusion now.
Your second source of help should be your class associates and/or team members. Call them. Talk with them. Try to get together with them after class. Set up team meetings to work jointly on the problems (NOT TO COPY), and to study. You ARE permitted to work with your classmates. You are NOT permitted to Xerox or copy their work. You are not permitted to run off 20 copies of one computer output and hand it in. If you copy someone else’s work I will diligently try to determine who did the copying, and give them a grade of 100. I then give the person from whom they copied a zero, plus extra attention when grading their exams. Seems only fair. By definition, the person who was too dumb to work the problem was also too dumb to know not to copy it, whereas the smart student has no excuse for allowing their paper to be copied. None at all.
Your third source of help is your T.A. The Civil Engineering Department hires a number of highly qualified graduate students to serve as Teaching Associates, as listed on the syllabus. They are paid to help you keep your A in this course, and they would like you to use them. The first thing I will ask you when you show up at my office is “Did you discuss this with the T.A.?”, and you should be able to say “Yes, but they weren’t there” or “No, but my class hours conflict with their office hours” or “Yes, but they weren’t able to answer my question and referred me to you”. These are all valid responses. It’s not that I don’t want to help you, it’s just that teaching over 200 students in 221, 305, and 345 this semester is a lot of students, and that’s why we hire a bunch of TA’s.
Now I understand that I am easier to find, and that I can probably give you an answer more quickly, since I’ve already answered that same question several hundred times before. However, the department pays them to help you, and I want them earning their money. Also, DO NOT wait until minutes before class to try and work these problems or you will indeed not be able to find either the tutor or me. The help desk is generally open all day. However, if you find that they aren’t there when they should be, let me know.
Your next source of help is me. You are welcome to drop by during my office hours, listed on the syllabus and I will be happy to help you, but please be ready to answer the following questions:
Did you sit down and lay out the problem in an orderly manner? Bring it with you. This helps me tell how far along you are. When you show up I want to at least see a cash flow diagram (322), or a free-body diagram for whatever you are trying to solve, along with your attempt to solve it.
Did you apply the solution methods shown in the videos, or that I showed you in class? Don’t show up with nothing but a previously unopened book and a blank piece of paper. Bring everything you have generated trying to solve the problem. Also, your work must be legible, or I will ask you to go somewhere else and clean it up so I can read it.
Did you get with others in the class to see if they were also having a problem with it? Often you will find that they were, but they were just at my office and have now figured it out. They are perfect candidates to help you, since it gets you going, and it also reinforces what they just learned.
Was the tutor also puzzled by the problem?
If these answers are yes, then you are absolutely in the right place. I will be happy to assist you since that’s what you pay me to do. My office hours are listed on the syllabus, and I will make every effort to be here at those times. But I would still highly recommend that you call me before dropping by, to make sure no one has hauled me off somewhere.