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Georgia Journal of Science

Abstract

Why do some students do well in College Algebra, but poorly in Trigonometry? Reasons include the array of new mathematical symbols, after years of working with the same symbols (+, –, ×, ÷), and the belief that trigonometry is unrelated to College Algebra and Calculus. Some students consider trigonometry to be a weed-out math course that expedites failure of Calculus courses and that their real downfall in mathematics is due to Trigonometry. Some calculus II students complain that: “As soon as I see a unit circle, or bizarre symbols such as sin θ or cos θ, my mind freezes” and “I failed your calculus course because I hate trig, otherwise I had no problems with the calculus.” This paper tries to mitigate the students’ fears about trigonometry by presenting it like college algebra. The ideas presented will seamlessly introduce algebra students to trigonometry.

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