The main objective of precalculus is suggested by its name: to get
ready for calculus. So most of the time in this course the answer
to the question, Why should we know this? is
Because there are occasions in the calculus sequence where this
knowledge is crucial or serves as a means to a greater end.
(If you do not intend to go on and take calculus, see me
immediately about a better course for you!) At the most
basic level, then, you should strive to learn well the material
of the course. At a broader level, here is a list of questions, not
tied to any specific precalculus topic, that point to ways I hope you
will be affected by the course.
Contacting the Professor
My office is NH 281. The hours
I am intentionally in my office for student
questions are posted on my homepage,
and are subject to change during the semester. If we
cannot hook up at one of these times, feel free to
talk with me about an appointed time to meet, or swing
by my office in the hopes that I am available to help.
If you feel yourself falling behind in the class, it
is very important not to put things off, but to seek
help right away. Do not wait until a time close to an
exam before speaking with me.
I may be reached by phone at x66856, but a better way to reach me is by email. If you require my approval for something, do not consider having left a message for me as equivalent to having obtained that approval.
Use of Technology
A good deal of computer use will be expected of you in this
course. Generally speaking, daily homework assignments and other
course information are available on the the web, and it is your
responsibility to access this information online. (I strongly
urge you to download and use
Mozilla's Firefox web browser for this purpose instead of
Microsoft Internet Explorer, as the latter will frequently
look in the wrong place for files and then say they cannot be found.)
While many announcements, hints, etc. may be given in class, things
that cannot wait until the next class period will be
sent to you as email messages. Thus, it is important that
you be checking your email daily, preferably later in the day.
I have requested a class email list to which you can send
Any mail sent to this address will be received by all members of the class (including me). You may use it as a forum for discussing assigned problems, topics that came up in class, etc.
In addition, a number of assigned problems will require the use of a graphing calculator, or the like (Click here for a java applet that emulates one).
Whatever technology you use, beware of becoming too reliant upon it. For skills which you ought to be able to do by hand, you will generally be required to demonstrate your work on exams as if you had no helpful technology at your disposal (despite the capabilities of your graphing calculator).
If any part of an exam write-up is not your own, or is the result of unauthorized access to information stored anywhere in any form, the result on the first instance will be a score of zero. A second occurrence will result in automatic failure of the course.
Each of the following will be components of your overall grade:
assignments (graded for correctness), exams (there will be
four see the course calendar for
their dates), quizzes (some as-yet-undetermined quantity of them),
participation and a cumulative final.
Homework will be assigned on a daily basis and usually collected two times per week. We will try to get it marked in a timely fashion, at which time I will place it in a folder marked graded homework in the box outside my office where you may pick it up at your convenience. There is a corresponding new homework folder, in which you may place homework that is to be collected that day. I consider it late if it has already been collected by the grader by the time you place it in the folder, so the safest thing is to hand it in at the end of class. Homework that is late may receive only 75% of the score it would have received otherwise, and that only if it is handed in before the others of the set have been returned.
Your participation grade will be determined at my discretion, and will take a minor (though not negligible) role in determining your semester grade. You can easily earn the full credit by attending class regularly (and, of course, being alert), demonstrating your curiosity with questions (either on topics being discussed in class or in the text), contributing helpfully to the email list, taking an active role in a regularly-meeting study group, preparing answers to reading questions, etc. It is only in noting an obvious lack of these, a lack of respectful behavior in class on your behalf, your use of class time to complete homework, or some other type of problematic activity (if in this last category then I will speak with you about it) that I will begin to deduct from your participation grade.
At semester's end, I will compare your grade on the final exam with what you have received on the four in-class exams. If the final is better, then I will replace the worst of these with the final exam grade. For students who have been present for all exams, this generally means that you may miss on a set of topics once without penalty, so long as you understand those topics thoroughly for the final exam. If you must miss an exam for reasons other than serious illness (about which you must contact your professor in advance) or another college-related involvement for which an excused absence is granted, there will be no opportunity for a make-up. In this case, the final will automatically count in place of one missed exam. Cheap airfares, early departures for vacations and the like are not valid excuses for missing an exam.
Please speak with me about problems or issues as they arise during
the semester. I am still growing as a teacher, and if you have
concerns, it is simply a matter of building one another up
that you should raise them in an appropriate moment, preferably
while adjustments may still be made that affect your class.
This page maintained by:
Thomas L. Scofield
Reasonable academic accomodations will be made for individuals with
documented disabilities. Any student who this concerns should notify
one of the coordinators for services for students with disabilities
in the Center for Student Success, Spoelhof College Center 360.
That student should also meet with me during the first two weeks of
the semester to discuss academic accomodations.
The type of concentration required for mathematics/statistics calls
for a distraction-free environment. Please do your part to make
the classroom one conducive for learning by arriving on time, not
working on homework assignments during class, refraining from frivolous
talk, and actively participating in in-class discussions/activities.
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Calvin College
Please speak with me about problems or issues as they arise during the semester. I am still growing as a teacher, and if you have concerns, it is simply a matter of building one another up that you should raise them in an appropriate moment, preferably while adjustments may still be made that affect your class.
This page maintained by:
Thomas L. Scofield