Why do I keep failing this in particular? (Differential Equations)

In summary: Also, it might help to set goals for yourself - say, by the end of this semester, I want to be able to solve at least 5 problems from the homework set without resorting to the internet.In summary, the physics major is having difficulty with a differential equations course and does not know what to do to fix the problem. He has tried different study habits and has spoken to the professor, but does not know what else to do.
  • #1
Steven Reichman
1
0
Hello everyone. I'm an undergrad physics major with one semester left and I'm having some trouble. I took off 3 years to work on my depression and came back last spring to finish my senior year. Now, before I left I was struggling in all my classes due to my depression, but one was worse: Differential Equations. I'm now on my 4th attempt on this course and it looks like I'm failing it again. I CAN'T fail again. Like if I do I will never be allowed to graduate. I've tried different study habits, professors, and this time it's even online through a different university. Now, you may say I'm just bad at it, and I know I'm not great, but I've done exceedingly well in classes that require its use like Quantum Mechanics (I got a B) and many others with A's or B's.

I seem to really just struggle with the tests. I understand the processes but I always feel like the test stumps me every time. It's like they put the only questions I can't figure out on the tests.

My question is, how can I pass this class? I just don't know what I'm doing wrong.
Thanks
 
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  • #2
Can you detect any pattern to your errors. For example, can you categorize them?

1. Mistakes involving the theory of differential equations per se
e.g. Failure to recognize the general technique required to solve an equation - variables separable vs exact vs variation of parameters vs integrating factor
e.g. Inability to translate a word problem to the appropriate differential equation

2. Mistakes involving calculus
e.g. inability to do some integrals, mistakes in differentiation

3.Mistakes involving special functions
e.g. errors in manipulations involve trig functions or ##Ln(..)## or ##Exp(..)##

4.Mistakes in basic algebra

A somewhat inane review of differential equations on DVD - that I sometimes play as background noise while I'm doing something else is: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000VD9MJG/?tag=pfamazon01-20.

You can probably find more serious videos on the web.
 
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  • #3
Have you spoken to the professor about it? They want you to succeed. They might look at your answers to the tests and say "You missed parts A, D, E, and F here, that points to the fact that you might have problems with X!"
 
  • #4
You say you've tried different study habits, but what habits specifically? Perhaps you could give us an outline of how you're studying right now and someone on here could offer some constructive suggestions on how to improve.

The general advice is usually to work through as many practice problems as you can - not just those assigned as homework, but as many as possible. And do them with feedback - i.e. compare your answer with a correct solution after you've worked on it independently, identify any errors in logic and correct them. Ideally you do this until you get to the point where you recognize how to solve a given problem through sheer experience.
 

Related to Why do I keep failing this in particular? (Differential Equations)

1. Why are differential equations so difficult for me to understand?

Differential equations can be challenging because they involve complex mathematical concepts and require a solid understanding of calculus. They also often involve abstract thinking and can be difficult to visualize. Additionally, different types of differential equations may require different problem-solving approaches, which can add to the difficulty.

2. How can I improve my understanding of differential equations?

Improving your understanding of differential equations requires practice and persistence. It is important to have a strong foundation in calculus and to review the fundamental concepts before attempting more complex problems. Additionally, seeking help from a tutor or attending study groups can also be beneficial.

3. Why do I keep making mistakes when solving differential equations?

Solving differential equations involves multiple steps and it is easy to make mistakes along the way. It is important to carefully check each step and pay attention to details. It can also be helpful to practice with different types of problems to become more familiar with the process.

4. How can I apply differential equations to real-world problems?

Differential equations have many practical applications in fields such as physics, engineering, and economics. To apply them to real-world problems, it is important to understand the problem and identify the appropriate type of differential equation to use. It may also be helpful to break the problem down into smaller parts and use visual aids to better understand the problem.

5. What are some common mistakes to avoid when working with differential equations?

Some common mistakes to avoid when working with differential equations include not understanding the problem fully, not carefully checking each step, and using incorrect formulas or methods. It is also important to pay attention to units and to remember to include any initial conditions or boundary conditions in the solution.

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