Intensive PreCalculus

Math 1155, Spring Semester 2005
MWF 2:30-3:20pm, Pillsbury Hall 110

Lecturer: Jonathan Rogness
Office: Vincent Hall 358
Phone: 612-625-3896
Email: (by far the best way to reach me!)
Web Page:

Course Web Page:

Course Overview

Course Description: This course covers an entire year of PreCalculus in one semester. The class is intended for students with gaps in their preparation for calculus but who are able and willing to deal with the fast pace and increased workload of a five-credit one-semester PreCalculus course.

This course satisfies the prerequisite for Math 1271 (Calculus) or Math 1371 (IT Calculus); it also satisfies the CLE Mathematical Thinking Requirement.

Course Content: Our list of topics this semester will include: linear and quadratic equations and inequalities; graphs of equations, including lines, circles, parabolas; composition and inverses of functions; transformations of graphs; linear and quadratic models; equations and inequalities involving polynomials and rational functions; exponentials and logarithms with applications; definitions and graphs of trigonometric functions and inverse trigonometric functions; trigonometric identities; solutions of systems of equations by substitution and elimination; systems of inequalities; arithmetic sequences and geometric series.

Required Textbooks:

We will only use SMS for a short time at the beginning of the course, but you should have it available for reference. If you compare the course content with the main textbook, you will see that we plan to cover most of chapters 1-8 and portions of chapters 10 and 11.

Prerequisites: Three years of high school math, a C- in GC 0731, or a placement exam. Due to the fast pace of this course, we will not have much time to review the content of these prerequisites, so your command of these skills should be current. You will take a pre-test, based on problems from SMS, during the first week to help you gauge your readiness. If your algebra skills are rusty, you should work hard to fix this right away, or else consider transferring to a slower-paced PreCalculus course.

Calculator Policy: You are allowed to use only a scientific calculator on exams and quizzes. For our purposes, a scientific calculator is one which can calculate the standard functions, such as sin x, cos-1 x, log x, ln x, ex, etc. Graphing calculators or calculators which can do symbolic manipulations are not permitted. If you aren't sure if your calculator is acceptable, ask. (You should be able to find a good scientific calculator for less than $10, and you certainly shouldn't spend more than $15.)

When calculators are allowed, exam questions tend to be harder. With this in mind, I will give the class the option of having one or two calculator-free midterms. We'll vote on this at the appropriate time, and we will only banish the calculators if a significant majority of the class chooses to do so. (In this context, we'll define "significant majority" to be at least two-thirds of the class.)

Grading System

You can earn up to 1000 points during the semester:

Homework250 points
Recitation Attendance / Quizzes  50 points
Four Midterms (100 points each)400 points
Final Exam300 points

Grades: The final gradelines will be at least this generous:

90%-100%A-, A
80%-89%B-, B, B+
70%-79%C-, C, C+
60%-69%D, D+

I reserve the right to lower the gradelines if I feel it is justified -- for example, if the exams turn out to be too hard, or we graded too strictly, and so on.

Exams: Because we are covering so much material, you will have four midterm exams, taken in your recitation section. You will also have a three-hour long final exam. The department dictates that one-third of the final exam be multiple-choice. To help you prepare for this, I will include multiple choice questions on each of the midterms. The dates of the exams are:

First MidtermTuesday 2/8/05 (in recitation)
Second MidtermTuesday 3/8/05 (in recitation)
Third MidtermTuesday 4/5/05 (in recitation)
Fourth MidtermTuesday 5/3/05 (in recitation)
Final ExamMonday 5/9/05 (1:30-4:30pm, location TBA)

Make up Exams: Because you are registered for this lecture, I assume that you have no other conflicts during our alloted time. Therefore you should be able to take the midterm exams during the normal time. Make up exams will be permitted only in very serious and unavoidable circumstances. Emergency surgery would qualify; a routine appointment which could be moved will not. You've been told when the exams are -- keep those days clear of other conflicts! In particular, we cannot give you a make up exam if you arrive late, overslept, or couldn't find a parking spot! The date for the final exam is also listed above, so you should keep your schedule absolutely empty on that day. Only in truly exceptional situations could a student who misses the final exam pass the course.

Homework: Due every Friday, at the beginning of lecture. Every week, five problems from your homework will be graded. Because this is a five-credit class, there is a lot of homework (see "Workload" below). To help compensate you for your time, I have made homework count for 25% of your final grade. (The normal figure around here is 10%-15%.) If you put in a full effort on the homework, you may also find that you don't have to study very much for the midterm exams.

Your homework should be:

  1. neatly and clearly written. You must show your answer and your work to arrive at that answer. Homework which is unreadable will receive little credit.
  2. handed in on time, at the beginning of class. Late homework will be graded only under unusual circumstances.
  3. in order, by section number and then problem number, thereby preserving the grader's sanity.
  4. devoid of any notebook "frizzies" on the side of the paper.
  5. stapled, in order to form a more perfect union and promote the general welfare.
Your TA will have the option of taking off a point if your homework does not meet the last two requirements.

As noted above, we won't accept late assignments, because we don't want you to fall behind; this is especially important in a fast-paces course such as this one. However, we will drop your lowest homework score during the semester. Try not to use this option intentionally. It's meant for those emergency situations when you won't be able to finish your homework on time.

Attendance / Pop Quizzes: We will conduct the class under the presumption that you have attended every lecture and recitation section. In particular, you are responsible for any announcements made in class. Note that your attendance in your recitation section will count towards your grade. If attendance starts to fall, your TA has the option of giving up to four unannounced ("pop") quizzes throughout the semester. The 50 recitation points in your grade will be assigned at the discretion of your TA, based on attendance, participation, and performance on any quizzes.

Incompletes: These are given only in extremely unusual circumstances, and only if you arrange it with the instructor (not the TA) in advance. Incompletes are given only if you have completed most of the course material at a satisfactory level -- at least two midterms at a C level -- but some terrible, unexpected event prevents you from finishing the course. In particular, we cannot give you an incomplete if you simply fall behind in your work.

Appropriate Collaboration versus Cheating: In general you will find me to be easy-going, and I will treat you with the respect that you deserve as an adult. As part of that, I expect and trust that you will not cheat, and you will not be happy if I find my trust and respect has been misplaced. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Cheating on homework, quizzes or tests will result in a failing grade on the assignment or test, and usually further sanctions, possibly including a failing grade in the course or further sanctions through the university. Any collaboration on quizzes and tests given in class will be considered cheating.

However, please do collaborate on learning how to do the homework. Mathematicians often work together, and you should do the same. If you would like to form a study group, but don't know other students in the class, let us know; we can try to help you get together with other students in the same situation. Note: After cooperating on learning how to do a problem, each student must do the problem themselves to turn it in. Copying homework, or turning in homework that you did not do yourself, is a form of cheating and is not acceptable. At best you will receive no credit for any homework like this, and the consequences could be more severe. (See the dire warnings in the paragraph above.)

Guidelines for Success

Time Commitment / Workload: Recall that this is a five-credit course; officially, that corresponds to 15 hours per week. Five hours will be spent in class, so you should be ready to spend up to ten additional hours studying and doing homework per week. Roughly speaking, the time commitment is the same as a tough four-credit Calculus course, plus an additional three hours of homework each week!

Depending on your background, you might be able to get by with less effort. However, if your background is not as strong, and if you already know you can't spend that much time on this class, you might want to consider one of the slower-paced PreCalculus courses.

During the first few weeks, we will try to monitor how much time people are spending on homework. If the time commitment becomes too large we can help out by providing hints about which homework problems might or might not be graded. (But everybody would still be encouraged to work through all of them.)

Stay Ahead: I recommend that you read the relevant sections of the text before coming to the lecture. Lectures will be easier to follow if you have already thought about the material. I also recommend starting all assignments early, to give yourself opportunities to get your questions answered before it's too late.

Office Hours: Office hours can be a great resource for you, and I highly encourage you to use them. (Your tuition money is paying for us to sit there. Get your money's worth!) It's a chance for you to get one-on-one help. We can cover things in more depth, or find out what's confusing to you and explain it in a different way. If you have questions and none of our office hours work for you, email me or your TA and set up a different time.

Ask Questions: You've heard this cliche before, but it's true: if you are confused, then at least ten other people are as well. Don't be afraid to ask questions! This advice is even more important in this class where we cover a lot of ground very quickly and I will be forced to leave out some steps; sometimes I might skip over something that I really ought to explain. Please call me on it.

Mathematics is not a Spectator Sport: Here is the most common (and frustrating) pitfall in math classes: a student understands every word in lecture and in the textbook, but then performs poorly on exams. Why? Because the only way to really learn mathematics is by doing mathematics. Sometimes this means doing even more than the assigned problems. (See "Time Commitment" above.)

I realize this isn't welcome advice, and I haven't always followed it myself. But in years of teaching (and 20+ years of learning) mathematics I haven't found any shortcut.

Disability Accommodations: It is University policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or meet course requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact me early in the semester to discuss their individual needs.

And now a word from our sponsors....

(The following paragraphs, from the Council on Liberal Education and the School of Mathematics, are required to be on our syllabus. In some cases general statements here are superseded by specific information above.)

All math courses, including this one, stress the fundamental mathematical processes of problem solving and logical analysis. This course will challenge you to look at new kinds of problems for the first time, and to look at old problems in new ways. You need to be able to take a problem, break it down into its component parts, see what methods of the course can be applied to each step, and then put the pieces together. You need to be able to take a general principle and apply it to special cases; conversely, you need to be able to see how various special cases may be particular examples of a general principle.

All math courses contain writing appropriate to the discipline. Most exam questions and homework problems are in long answer form, not multiple choice or short answer. You are expected to explain your reasoning completely and coherently. A correct answer unsupported by and explanation will receive little credit. However, because of the large number of students taking this course and the need to grade final exams quickly, a portion of the final exam may be multiple choice.