What is PATHFINDER?
PathFinder is a web-based application used to collect and organize knowledge uploaded by educators. Editors and reviewers make sure the knowledge is correct and the style consistent.
The PathFinder database can be accessed using the PathFinder Tab without signing in.
Authors assemble content into Web-books, complete with online quizzes and homework. Enroll in a course using a PathFinder Web-book and access it and its exercises after signing in on the Manage Tab.
You must be enrolled in a course using a PathFinder Web-book to create an account. The other Tabs are used with Web-books and are only accessible after signing in.
Is there a Quick Start guide?
The Quick Start Guide can be accessed by going to the PathFinder Tab and clicking the triangle in the upper left (it is blue with a plus sign near the top). Next, open the Knowledge tree by clicking on its plus sign. Finally, open the Pathfinder node at the bottom of the tree (plus sign again) and select the Quick Start guide.
Is there more HELP than this FAQ list and the Quick Start guide?
Student and Teacher guides are accessed from the PathFinder node. See the previous FAQ.
Help is also given throughout in tooltips that appear when you place your cursor over an object. Examples of objects that have help tooltips include information icons (an "i" in a black circle), text boxes, images, buttons, and text (often blue). The column headings on the Plan Tab have useful tooltips!
Is there a guide for teachers?
The teacher guide is accessed from the PathFinder node. See the Quick Start FAQ.
How do I get a PathFinder account?
Enroll in a PathFinder course and your teacher will give you a Course Code. Click the "Register a New Account" link on the Manage Tab and go to the first step of the Registration process. Enter the Course Code and your email from the institution using the Web-book. A Registration Code will be emailed to the address you provide. Complete your registration by returning to the Registration process and submitting your Course and Registration Codes and other required information. Your Username and Password will be sent to the same address.
PathFinder sends emails immediately. Any delay means (1) the email is hung up at the Network level or (2) you typed it in incorrectly. If you fear the later, you can repeat the first step of the Registration process.
What is an institutional email?
You need a course code and an institution email to create a PathFinder account. The institution email is your email from the institution offering the course with a PathFinder Web-book, e.g., to create an account for a course offered at Smith University (where student emails end in "@students.smith.edu") you will need a working email ending in "@students.smith.edu". A Smith U account can only be used with PathFinder Web-books associated with emails ending in "@students.smith.edu". If you enroll in a course at another institution, you will need to create another PathFinder account.
How do I get a Web-book?
Enroll in a PathFinder course and your teacher will give you a Course Code. Create your Web-book by signing in, pasting your Course Code and clicking the "Get Web-book" button (on the Manage Tab).
You may need to pay a fee to keep access to your web-book.
PathFinder accounts are associated with a single institution. If you do not have a PathFinder account for an institution using a Web-book, you will need to create one. All you need to create an account is a Course Code and your email from the institution.
How do I SIGN IN to PathFinder?
Sign in on the Manage Tab. You will need an account.
I forgot my Username or Password.
Go to the Manage Tab and click the "Forgot Username or Password?" link. Enter the email associated with your account and click the "Get Username and new Password" button. Your Username and a new Password will be emailed to you.
I want to change my Password.
While logged in, go to the Manage Tab and click the "Manage Your Account" link.
I want to update or correct my account (name, email, major, institutional ID).
While logged in, go to the Manage Tab and click the "Manage Your Account" link.
Why am I unable to ACCESS my Web-book?
If you have a valid Web-book (you may need to pay a fee), sign in to PathFinder on the Manage Tab and use "Select a Web-book" drop down. Go to the Plan Tab to select the chapter you want to read or exercises you want to work. You only need to select the Web-book once. After that, each time you sign in, PathFinder will take you directly to its Plan Tab.
Switch between Web-books using the same drop down on the Manage Tab.
Can I access my Web-book after the class ends?
Yes! In fact, you can access it after you graduate.
Before you leave make sure your account includes an email you can continue to access. Use the "Update Your Account" link on the Manage Tab if you need to change your account email. You will be able to use that email to recover a forgotten Username and reset your Password. NOTE: the institutional email used to create the account remains and is used to ensure the account can only be used to create Web-books used by that institution. PathFinder accounts are associated with a single institution.
Plan Tab: How do I use the PLAN TAB?
Use the Plan Tab to access links to Web-book chapters and exercises on the Read and Work Tabs. It also displays due dates and scores.
Read Tab: Can I Print or get a pdf of an article or Web-book Chapter?
Yes. Display the article or Web-book chapter on the Read Tab (or the PathFinder Tab, for articles). Select the entire article or Web-book chapter, right-click, and select print. Save the printout as a pdf or send it to a printer.
Read Tab: Can I COPY an equation?
Yes. Most equations in PathFinder are coded using MathML. Right click on the equation and select the "Show Math As" and "MathML Code" options. Then copy the code and paste it as text in Word. This may also work in some other word processors.
Read Tab: How do I READ a chapter in my Web-book?
Once you sign in, go to the Plan Tab and select a link in the Chapter column. The Chapter appears in the Read Tab.
Read Tab: How can I quickly NAVIGATE a chapter?
Chapters have up to five Navigation menus--Headings, Tables, Figures, Equations, and Examples--depending on content. They are at upper left on the Read Tab. SINGLE click a menu to show its submenu AND hide the chapter. SINGLE click the appropriate submenu item to redisplay the chapter AND bring the desired item to the top of the display area. Use the right pointing triangle on the left side of the Read Tab to show the Navigation menus, if need be. If you have problems scrolling through submenus, see the next question.
Read Tab: My browser does not let me SCROLL down to select the last options in some navigation menus?
The mouse scroll wheel can be used in all browsers. If you do not have a mouse scroll wheel, most browsers will allow you to use the scroll bar. There appears to be a bug in some versions of Internet Explorer regarding the use of the scroll bar. Use a different browser or click in the space above or below the scroll bar, then reopen the navigation menu.
Read Tab: Can I ENLARGE an Image, Figure, or Schematic?
Click on the Figure title below an Image, Figure, or Schematic and it it is displayed on the PathFinder Tab, often enlarged. Source information is also given, if available.
Read Tab: How do I see VARIABLE DEFINITIONS for an equation?
Click the plus sign to the right of any MathML equation. The variable definitions are shown on the PathFinder Tab.
Read Tab: Can I improve the LOOK of equations or ZOOM equations?
Most equations in PathFinder are coded using MathML. Right click on the equation and select the "Math Settings" and "Math Renderer" options and experiment with the available options. One options allows you to make equations bigger when you click or hover over them.
Work & Plan Tab: How do I make sure I complete Exercises on TIME?
The earliest due date and time for the exercises in a given chapter is shown on the Plan Tab. For an individual problem, look at its tooltip in the Work Tab Navigation area. To check to make sure you are in synch with "PathFinder time": click the Time button on the Work Tab (it only appears when you have a problem selected).
Work Tab: Are solutions available?
Multiple Choice Exercises: Keep trying until PathFinder identifies the correct answer. Only the first one, two, or three attempts are usually scored.
Calculation Exercises: After the allowed number of attempts PathFinder shows the solution and moves to the next step. Only the first one, two, or three attempts at each step are usually scored.
Work Tab: Where are the EXERCISES? How do I complete them?
Once you sign in, go to the Plan Tab and select a link in the BEFORE or AFTER exercises Due columns. Complete exercises on the Work Tab. Click an exercise link on the left of the Work Tab and it appears in the display area on the right. Select the best answer to multiple choice exercises and click the "Submit My Choice" button. Answer calculation exercises one step at a time. Enter the correct answer in the text box and click the "Submit My Answer" button.
Work Tab: What is the PRACTICE Button for?
Use the Practice button to access a practice exercise similar or related to the displayed exercises. The practice exercise can be attempted without any effect on your score. Students that work practice exercises typically do better on their scored exercises.
Work Tab: What is the best way to WORK a calculation exercise in my Web-book?
Work calculation exercises like a traditional homework, i.e., on paper or using spreadsheet or math solver software. Carry extra digits in calculations to mirror the method used by PathFinder to determine answers. Carry as many as possible, but at least two more than the number indicated by significant figures. If you are fuzzy on sig figs, just carry as many as you can. Using extra digits carries over exercise steps, e.g., if the answer to step one is 3.4518765, but has 3 significant figures (or answer length = 4), enter 3.45 into the answer textbox but use 3.4519 (or any number of digits up to 3.4518765) to calculate the answers to subsequent steps.
Work Tab: How many SIGNIFICANT FIGURES do I use when I submit answers?
Use the Significant Figures or Answer Length indicated to the right of the answer textbox. Answer Length includes any negative sign or decimal point, e.g., -1.4 has 2 Significant Figures but its Answer Length is 4. For problems ABOUT significant figures, PathFinder will not indicate significant figures or answer length; the student must determine the appropriate answer length for such problems.
Work Tab: How do I submit NUMERICAL ANSWERS to PathFinder exercises?
Enter the number into the textbox and select the "Score My Answer" button. Use X.X or X.XEX format. Use a short dash to indicate a negative number, e.g., -41.9 or -1.37E6.
If a number is very small or large, use scientific notation to submit your answer, e.g., 0.0000000001214321489 should be entered as 1.214E-10 if Pathfinder is looking for an answer with 4 significant digits and 2539843214.352434 should be entered as 2.54E9 if Pathfinder is looking for a 3 significant figure answer. Scientific notation will rarely be needed for steps where answer length is given (instead of the number of significant figures); however, if the situation arises, do not include the exponent in determine the answer length, i.e., do not count "E#" or "E-#" as part of answer length.
Work Tab: Can I access my exercises after their DUE DATE?
Accessing a calculation exercise after the due date shows the solution one step at a time. This is so you can study for a test using all problems, even those you failed to complete. DO NOT access a calculation exercise after the due date if you are hoping to get an extension on the due date. Your teacher cannot give you an extension if you have looked at the solution! AND, PathFinder does not allow it!
Work Tab: How do I enter MULTIPLE CHOICE answers in calculation exercises?
If a calculation exercise step prompts you to identify an answer by entering a number such as 1 or 2, a letter, letter combination, or word, enter your choice exactly as it is specified, e.g., if "1" is specified do not type "one" or "1.0", and if "YES" is specified do not type "Y" or "y" (but "yes" will work).
Work Tab: How does PathFinder SCORE my answers to PathFinder exercises?
PathFinder uses MathML equations to calculate the answers to exercises whenever you enter a numerical answer. If your answer is within the allowable percent deviation PathFinder gives you full credit (usually 3 - 5 %). The percent is set by your teacher or the Web-book author. For answers with few significant figures, using the WRONG number of significant figures can result in getting an exercise step wrong, e.g., if the correct answer is 2 and you enter 2.49, your answer is off by more than 20 %!
The teacher or Web-book author determines how many points each exercise is worth, the maximum number of attempts per step, and the decrease in points with each attempt. PathFinder divides points evenly over the exercise steps.
Team Tab: What is the Team Tab for?
The Team Tab can help teachers evaluate teams. Students can report what they did on a given project and evaluate the members of their team.