Saturday, January 18, 2014

Review of my second book, unfortunately the person spelled my name Kauggman, oh well... Kerry Kauggman’s Algebra Simplified Intermediate & Advanced is a mathematics textbook. It cannot be read like a typical novel or a non-fiction narrative. Algebra Simplified Intermediate & Advanced follows Kauggman’s previous book Algebra Simplified Basic & Intermediate. Not having read Kauggman’s earlier book, I am unsure as to what has and has not been covered in the first volume, although given the thoroughness with which this textbook is written, I am fairly confident that the previous volume prepares the reader for the content of the sequel.

The target audience of Algebra Simplified Intermediate & Advanced consists mainly of the middle school and high school students who will be using it for their mathematics coursework, although some older readers might need it for a GRE exam, or some similar standardized test. I would also recommend that parents look at Algebra Simplified Intermediate & Advanced in order to brush up on the subject so they can help their children with their homework.

Given my extensive background with algebra in school, I feel that I cannot evaluate this book on one very important point– how does it teach a challenging subject to someone with no prior knowledge of that topic? For me, reading this book was essentially a refresher course, though to be honest, I needed to review some topics quite a bit. However, a student who has never wrestled with quadratic equations or inverse functions before might have a slightly harder time grasping the concepts. Since this textbook will often be used in conjunction with a class, the teacher ought to be able to answer any lingering questions students might have behind these algebraic concepts.

Each chapter ends with numerous sample questions for the student to answer. Unlike many textbooks, Algebra Simplified Intermediate & Advanced provides step-by-step explanations of some of the more difficult equations. These further examples help the learning process, although one hopes that unscrupulous students will not simply copy the extended answers instead of actually trying to reason through the equations themselves.

Crafting a quality textbook is a great challenge, not simply because it is difficult to convey information, but one also has to keep the attention of the readers. Unfortunately, many young people are studying algebra not because they want to, but because they have to, and though Algebra Simplified Intermediate & Advanced does a very good job of explaining and presenting relevant information, there are only minimal attempts to show how learning algebra has applications outside of the classroom, and there are no attempts whatsoever at humor (though in all fairness, it is challenging to see where would be the best place to make a joke). Some details about the history of algebra and the development of the discipline might have been interesting, but their absence really ought not to be considered a major fault. Perhaps instilling adolescents with a love of algebra is too daunting a task to be realistic, but it would have been interesting if Algebra Simplified Intermediate & Advanced had made some effort to be entertaining as well as factual. Textbooks need to do something to set them apart from other tomes in their fields, and snappy writing and readability can be great assets if they do not come at the cost of lucid information. Three stars out of four.

If anyone is interested in this book, you can get it at

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