In order to succeed in this system you must first understand it. We begin by examining some of the components of a mathematics course, and then looking at how they all fit together.
The most prominent feature of large mathematics courses is the lecture. Lectures typically meet for an hour (actually, fifty minutes) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In a thirteen week semester this adds up to a maximum of thirty-nine hours. University courses generally require that students learn in much greater depth and breadth than high school courses. Considering the volume of material to be covered in a semester, it is clear that these thirty-nine hours must be used extremely efficiently by both the instructor and the student. An instructor may sometimes use the lecture to point out interesting things not contained in the book, to give alternate explanations to those presented in the text or to unify the concepts as presented in the text.
The next feature is the recitation section. These are one-hour meetings, generally on Thursday or Friday mornings, with a TA. The main purpose of these section meetings is to reinforce the material covered that week by focusing on additional examples, especially of the type assigned for homework. Mathematics is not a spectator sport; rather, it is a contact sport. The section meetings provide an interactive setting in smaller groups in which applications of mathematical concepts may be explored.
The final major component of a course is the help available outside of class. The many options for assistance are discussed below.
The student should take care to view all of the components of a course, including lectures, sections, examinations, homework, textbook and help availability as a collection of elements designed to help them in their continuing study of mathematics. All of these components are designed to fit together as a package to help the student understand the material from as many points of view as possible.