Math 132A
Calculus for Management, Life and Social Sciences
Spring, 2010


Course Topics

Our primary focus this semester will be upon learning the skills associated with Differential and Integral Calculus for functions of a single variable, with some expansion to functions of more than one variable near the end of the course. At the same time, we will look at applications of these skills, mostly as they pertain to business and economics. The text we will use for the course is Brief Calculus and Its Applications, 10th Edition, by Goldstein, Lay and Schneider.

Course Objectives

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.

Reading your Textbook

Read carefully each section of the textbook that we cover. Reading a math book is not like reading a novel, and can be frustrating at first. For a rationale on why you should do it, and advice about how to get the most out of your reading, go to this page.

Do so either the day we cover it, or in anticipation the night before. The sections we will cover are indicated on the course calendar, which, though subject to change, is fairly reliable for about a week in advance of the current day.

Use of Technology

Most course information including this syllabus, homework assignments, a calendar showing due dates, test dates, etc. (updated as often as a couple of times each week), and handouts are accessible via a web browser. (Remember to use a different browser than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, such as Mozilla.) 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 at least twice daily, once during the day and once at night.

A graphing calculator will be helpful in the course, so if you do not already have one, please speak with me. In addition, your assignments may include problems for which you are required to visit various webpages and perform certain tasks there. Such activities can be carried out at any computer with an internet connection, which includes those in open computer labs about campus.

Your Written Work

Your write-ups for all assignments must be in your own hand and words, except when otherwise noted. This, however, does not mean you are to work in isolation. Quite to the contrary, I encourage you to come together with other members of the class to form a study group, and schedule regular meetings. I strongly believe that students can earn as much as one letter grade higher by building one another up in this fashion. Read this page for more on why I think participating in a study group is important, my vision of how it might function in order to be of most benefit to all who participate, and what pitfalls one should avoid when working with others so as to maintain personal accountability for the material.

Give as much attention to presenting your solutions in a coherent manner (using mathematical symbols as part of your sentence structure) as you give to actually solving problems, as it is the explanation of each problem that is graded (not simply the answer itself). Submission of work that incorporates another's writeup, even on homework, will be considered academic dishonesty. (See Section 4.2.8 of the Faculty Handbook.) You may borrow someone's idea for solving a problem. When it is the case that this borrowing represents a significant step in your answer, indicate this on your write-up (i.e., give the person's name if a member of the class, the url of the pertinent website, etc.).


Your grade will be determined from your performance on various assignments and examinations, with weights assigned to each type of assessment as follows:
Homework 10%           Exams each 17%
Quizzes 10% Final 24%
Participation 5%
Homework will be collected about twice a week (more or less on some occasions). In general, every attempt will be made to have it marked and returned to you as soon as possible. Once it is marked 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 the grader has already come to pick up the problem set, so the safest thing is to hand it in by the end of class. Because of the ability to turn in homework without doing so in class, students who are absent should be able to submit work on its due date. For that reason, late homework is not accepted without approval from the professor. (Early departure or late returns around Spring Break, as an example, to spend more time with your family or to honor an already-purchased plane ticket do not qualify as "approved trips".)

Your participation grade will be determined at my discretion. You can easily earn the full credit with regular attendance (an absolute necessity if you wish to do well in the course, anyway), demonstrating your curiosity in class (either on topics being discussed in class or in the text), asking questions via email, taking an active role in a regularly-meeting study group, etc. It is only in noting an obvious lack of these, a lack of respectful behavior in class on your behalf, your using class time to complete homework, or some other type of problematic activity (about which I will speak with you) 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 three in-class exams. If the final is better than any one of the three, I will replace the worst of these with the final exam grade, so that the final will count as 41% (instead of 24%) of your semester grade.


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.

A Final Note

Please speak with me about problems or issues as they arise during the semester, so that you do not get behind. I would also be glad to hear your comments about how the class is going, giving us the chance to understand one another's goals and make changes in the course when it seems appropriate.

This page maintained by: Thomas L. Scofield
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Calvin College

Last Modified: Monday, 18-Jan-2010 14:02:59 EST