Policies for Precalculus
Math 100
Fall 1999

Instructor: Janice Sklensky
Office Phone: (508)286-3970
Office: Science Center 103
Office Hours: See my schedule
E-mail: jsklensk@wheatonma.edu

Below, I discuss

Course Materials: Functioning in the Real World: A Precalculus Experience, by Gordon, Gordon, Fusaro, Siegel, and Tucker.

A calculator which is at least capable of evaluating exponential and trigonometric functions is required. A graphing calculator is not required, but they can be handy. If you do not have a graphing calculator, come talk to me about learning how to use the computer program Maple. Please note: Graphing calculators are not used in Wheaton's Calculus classes; instead, we use Maple.

The text, and a calculator, should be brought to class every day.

Overview:
The primary aim of this course is to prepare you for Calculus. While this includes learning specific material, it is most important that you learn to think mathematically. To that end, you will encounter a variety of topics and challenges. Most of the problems you will solve will not be solved by copying examples. Instead, you will be applying mathematical concepts to many different types problems. You will also be faced with some open-ended questions that you and your colleagues will spend days deciding how best to answer. These non-routine problems will require that you grasp mathematical ideas and communicate mathematics verbally and on paper. This course may present challenges which require more effort than you have previously experienced, but the rewards are far greater as well! Increasing your ability to think mathematically not only will help you in Calculus, it will allow you to apply mathematics in courses in other disciplines, in your eventual career, and to solve problems in all aspects of your life.

You will learn to use a combination of algebraic, graphical, and numerical methods, and to decide which is the most helpful tool in any given context. You will develop your understanding of the mathematical concepts and learn how to apply them to realistic problems, rather than simply perform operations mechanically. You will learn to interpret results, not just to obtain answers.

This class has several important aims. You will be presented with the opportunity to learn: how to learn, mathematical thinking, to read and write mathematics, to use technology, and lastly, specific mathematical skills. All of these are important for Calculus.

In this class, as with all others, how much you actually learn is entirely up to you. As you read through how the course is structured, you will see that a lot is expected of you. In order to get enough out of this course, you will need to spend an average of 9 hours a week outside of class on reading, homework, and projects!

Is this the right math course for you?
This course is only for students who are going to take Calculus, but who feel they need to brush up on how functions work, the connection between functions and graphing, and/or trigonometry. As it is only a semester-long course, it can not thoroughly cover any of these subjects. Moreover, it does not satisfy the math and logic requirement! Hence, this is the right math course for you if you want to take Calculus but feel that one semester of preparation would help (and would be enough).

Who should take Calculus? Calculus is different from your previous math courses, and gives the first taste of just how exciting and beautiful math should be, so of course everyone should take it. However, I know that many students don't have enough time to take every course they want to, so some may not want to take Calculus unless it is required for their major. Those majors which require Calculus are: Math (of course), Physics, Chemistry, and Environmental Science. Calculus is also recommended for students who are Economics majors or who are Premed.

Students interested in other disciplines are of course welcome and encouraged to take Calculus, but be aware: if you are considering majoring in Economics or Psychology, you will be required to take Statistics (which does satisfy the math and logic requirement). Statistics is also recommended for Sociology and Political Science majors. Early Childhood and Elementary Education minors are required to take Concepts of Mathematics.

Reading technical material is an extremely valuable skill, and is becoming more pervasive in all areas of our lives all the time. Moreover, reading and comprehending mathematics is a large part of Calculus. Therefore, it is important that you feel comfortable reading mathematical prose.

Before each class meeting, I expect you to have read the material that we will be discussing that day. Many of you have not read mathematics before, so to help you with this (and to give you credit for your efforts!) I will post questions on the web that cover each day's reading. You will send the responses to those questions by 9am of the day they are due. You can get to the appropriate chapter's web page from the course's web page.

These reading assignments are required, and will be graded out of 2 points each: 2 points if you respond in full (whether correctly or not) and 1 point for a partial response. Late responses will not be accepted. I expect to drop each person's lowest score at the end of the semester.

Problem Sets:
Learning math is best accomplished through a combination of group and individual efforts. To ensure that you get the benefits of both experiences, (and for other reasons as well), every other problem set will be a group homework, while for the rest I will require that you each turn in an individual problem set. (You may, of course, consult each other on the individual efforts, but the final effort on it must be your own!)

For the group problem sets, you will benefit most from the experience if you have already made a sincere effort on every problem before your group meets. Points on the group homework will be based on each person's honest assessment of the effort and contribution made by each member. Groups also must make note of who was the recorder for each problem set, and the recorder must alternate.

I will assign several problems each Monday. The problems will be listed on this course's web page.

You are, of course, responsible for all of them, but you only turn in 3 or 4 of them, which I will specify. On Fridays, I will answer questions on a few of the problems I am not collecting. Solutions will be due by 4 pm each Monday.

Consult your Guidelines for Homework Presentation for information on how your problem sets should look.

I do not accept any late problems sets.

I expect to drop each person's lowest score at the end of the semester.

Projects:
To give you an opportunity to solve problems that are more realistic--problems which do not necessarily have one ``right'' answer, or which can be approached in a variety of ways, and which take several days of pondering and working to solve to your satisfaction, you will work on 2 projects, in groups, this term. Each group will describe the problem and its solution in a joint paper.

Quizzes:
As a result of student suggestion, I am adding a new feature to this class--we will have quizzes every other week (except those weeks we have midterm exams).

Except for the first one, these quizzes will cover the homework that you turned in the previous two Mondays. They will be straightforward, with each question either being very similar to a homework problem or covering an important concept or definition. Please note that the questions which are similar to homework problems will very often cover those homework problems which are not due.

The quizzes are short, but will be untimed. To accommodate that, they will be given on Thursdays; you will have several times each Thursday to choose from.

Gateways:
At least 3 of the quizzes will be ``gateways'', including the first one, which is September 9!

The gateways will be short, as the rest of the quizzes will be. They will not test mathematical ideas so much as the skills which are the foundation for the course. You must get 100% on these quizzes, but you may take them over and over again until you pass. The longer you take to pass them, however, the less they are worth. (Note that it doesn't matter how many tries it takes you, only how many days go by until you pass it.)

Gateways can prove to be time-consuming and stressful for some people, in the short run, but are much less so than continuing through the course without the necessary skills, let alone trying to complete Calculus without them!

Exams:
It is important for me to make sure throughout the semester that not only have you mastered the techniques (which are to math as grammar is to English), but that you understand the concepts and can put the concepts and skills together to solve problems which are somewhat different from those you have seen before (which ability is to math as writing clearly and creatively is to English). To that end, we will have two midterm exams.

Each of these will take an hour or more to complete. They may test some mathematical skills, but the primary emphasis will be to give you an opportunity to show me how well you've mastered the underlying mathematical ideas.

Like the quizzes, the exams will be untimed and given on Thursdays.

Unlike for the quizzes, you will be allowed to bring an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, with handwritten notes, front only, to use during the exam and to turn in with the exam.

We will also, of course, have a cumulative final. The final is scheduled for 9am on Saturday December 18. Put it in your calendar now. You may also use a "cheat sheet" (again handwritten, 8.5 x 11, front only), on the final.

Notify me in advance if you will be missing an exam, either by phone or by e-mail. If your reason for missing is acceptable, we will arrange that you take the exam early. If you miss an exam without notifying me in advance, I reserve the right to not give you any make-up exam. I will not give any individual more than one make-up exam during the semester. As for the final, check now in the schedule of classes when your other finals are and make sure you do not have 3 consecutive finals. If you do, consult the professors involved now. There are very few other acceptable reasons for rescheduling finals, so please tell family and friends not to make plans that involve you leaving campus before you're officially done with finals, as you may then be forced to make the difficult choice between taking a zero on a final or missing a flight (or whatever).

Attendance:
Clearly, missing class is not a wise idea. If you do miss class, it is of course your responsibility to find out any assignments, and to get a copy of the notes and of any hand-outs.

Evaluation:
I expect to use the weights below, although I reserve the right to change my mind if the semester does not go as expected.

 >Reading Assignments 5% Individual Problem Sets 10% Group Problem Sets 7% Projects 20% Quizzes 6% Gateways 12% Midterm Exams 20% Final Exam 20%
If you question the fairness of any grade, bring it to me within a week of receiving it.

Honor Code:
Abide by the Honor Code. While I take the Honor Code seriously, and will bring a case before the Hearing Board if I see or find anything suspicious, that is not the main reason not to cheat. Cheating is also a complete waste of money (assuming this is one of 4 classes, this class is costing you close to \\$4000!). It hurts not only the cheater but the entire class, and me. Moreover, cheating often doesn't result in a very good grade, even if it's not caught. And of course, cheating simply isn't right, and a person who cheats is less of a person for it. And that's the end of my rant.

Reading assignments: You may discuss the questions with your classmates, but you must enter the responses yourself, in your own words.

Homework and Projects: You may work with anybody you want (unless groups are assigned). You may use any references that help you figure out how to do the problem on your own; you may not use any references (people, old projects, books, the web, for instance) which tell you how to solve it or lead you to the solution. You must understand how to do every problem, and you must cite references if you've received assistance from any source. When doing group projects or group problem sets, you may not divide it into different parts--you must do them all together, and you must make sure every member of your group understands every part.

Exams: You may not use any notes, books, or colleagues as reference during the exams. Your ``cheat sheet' must conform to my stated rules. You may not use a calculator unless I specify that you may, and you may not use a graphing calculator.

Janice Sklensky
Wheaton College
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Science Center, Room 109
Norton, Massachusetts 02766-0930
TEL (508) 286-3973
FAX (508) 285-8278
jsklensk@wheatonma.edu

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