This is my third semester teaching Intermediate micro, but my first semester teaching to a class of exclusively non-majors. Despite having calculus as a pre-requisite, many of these students have no business being in the class and barely understand 8th grade algebra. Here are some stories about some of these students:

1. Student during office hours says to me: "I'm great at math. I'm a numbers person. But when you put letters in there, I get so confused. How am I supposed to do math with letters? Only math I've ever done is with numbers."

2. During the first exam, I used a homework question, but changed a coefficient from 3 to 1/4. A very angry student came to me during the exam and said "We have never solved a question like this!" I replied, "This is nearly identical to the homework question," to which she replied, very rudely, "there was no fraction on the homework! How am I supposed to divide with fractions?!" The question required her to divide 1/(1/4).

3. In the 7th week of the semester, there are many students who think the 'partial' symbol is a 2. Exam question: using the given demand function, show that X is a normal good using calculus. Student answer: 2X/2I >0. If I had to guess, they were probably thinking (for 7 weeks) "shouldn't the 2 cancel out? Oh well better not rock the boat."

4. A student who had been to every class for 7 weeks asked me during the exam review session "do we need to know derivatives for the exam"? We have been doing many derivatives every class the entire semester, so yes, you do.

5. On a homework question, students were given a utility function, prices, and income and were asked to find the optimal bundle. A few students (those who do not even understand algebra) were clearly googling the homework questions, and ended up with a set of PhD micro notes. Their answer was written in quantifiers (Real Analysis notation) and read "the optimal bundle lies in the budget set and is preferred to all other bundles in the budget set". I asked these students "Do you try to fool the dentist into thinking you've been flossing?"

For some of these students, I feel like I might as well be teaching them measure theory. Please share similar experiences!