Instructor contact information
Christopher Reisch (Chris Rye-shhh)
Office Phone: 645-6095
Home Phone : 828-0971 (Make Pranks Entertaining)
Office Location: 103 Talbert Hall
Office Hours: M, W, F 10:30 - 11:30AM

Class Policies For ULC 146 - Introductory Algebra - Fall 1999

About Me: The Fall of 1999 marks the beginning of my fifth year of teaching for the Learning Center. During this time, I have taught and served as the group leader for all three of our courses (ULC 146, 147, and 148). This semester is especially exciting for me for two reasons. First of all, it is my third year as the Mathematics Component Coordinator and Assistant Director of the Learning Center, which basically means that I am responsible for the entire Learning Center mathematics component. This is a fairly large responsibility for me, and I only took the job with the stipulation that I would still be given the opportunity to teach a course. My true passion lies in teaching, not in administration.

Secondly, I am beginning research projects whose completion will conclude my work as a doctoral student with the department of Learning and Instruction (LAI). In this department we study education, and more specifically for me, mathematics education. My studies therefore are focused more on the teaching of mathematics, and not solely on mathematics itself.

About the Course: ULC 146 is designed for the student who needs more than just a refresher course in algebra. It is for students who need to master the fundamentals of algebra, build a sense of confidence in their mathematics abilities, and develop sound mathematics study skills. Introductory Algebra is ideally suited for students who have been away from math for a period of time and perhaps never really learned algebra when they took it in the first place. The course assumes no previous knowledge of algebra, we start from square one. If you feel that you do have some knowledge of algebra and just need to refresh your memory a bit, you should make your instructor aware of this as soon as possible so that an accurate mathematics course placement can be made.

Important Note: While ULC 146 & 147 DO NOT satisfy University requirements for Mathematics, they ARE averaged into your GPA.

Textbook: Introductory and Intermediate Algebra: A Combined Approach, by Marvin Bittinger & Judith Beecher

This is the first semester we will be using the Bittinger textbook. We chose this text for a number of reasons. First of all, the content of the course seems to be presented in a clear logical way. The authors present material using an "outline style" similar to what class notes might look like. Secondly, this textbook is unique in that it incorporates "study skills" suggestions every so often. For the first time, this course will include a component where study skills specific to mathematics studying will be addressed, and these sections of the Bittinger text provide useful information.

Grading: The last few times I've taught this course I've implemented a "mastery learning" approach to assessment and overall I found it to be quite successful. I believe this to be the best way to grade an introductory algebra course because you will essentially be developing skills which will be extremely valuable in later mathematics courses. Just like football players must master strategies before playing football, and carpenters must master using a hammer before building, and pianists must master finger placement before performing, mathematicians must master algebra techniques before excelling in precalculus and calculus. The mastery learning system of instruction seems to be very effective in achieving these goals.

My system of grading will allow students to earn whatever grade they desire. All assignments (homework, quizzes, interviews, enrichments, projects, etc) will be optional. Students may complete all, some, or none of these assignments and will be graded accordingly. The only requirement to pass this course with a grade of C- is an 80% mastery of the material appearing on the four in-class examinations. Higher grades may be achieved by completing the assignments mentioned above.

Examinations: There will be four in-class examinations. Obtaining a grade of 80% on all four will earn you 70 points. If you do not reach this level of mastery the first time, you will be continually retested until an 80% level is reached, with no penalty. You will have no more than 1 week to schedule and prepare for any retesting necessary. The only way to earn a failing grade in this course is to not reach this level of mastery on all four examinations. Should you be illegitimately absent for an exam, you will have no more than one class day to get in contact with me and explain your situation. If this condition is violated, you will not be permitted to take a makeup exam and will thus fail the course. After having contacted me about the reason you were absent from my exam, you will be required to achieve a 90% mastery level on your makeup exam. So the moral of the story is, if you are absent from and exam, you'd better contact me immediately, and use the time to prepare for the makeup, because you will need it.

To the 70 points you will earn for passing all three examinations, you may earn additional points by completing various assignments given throughout the semester. The following are ways to earn additional points:

Homework and Quizzes: Homework and quizzes will be given on a regular basis. All assignments in this category will be collected and graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis (S/U). If you get a "U" you will be given one class day to make corrections. If you choose to make the corrections, your "U" will change to an "S" with no penalty. Assignments may be turned in one class late, but you will not be given the corrections option. Homework points will be earned in the following way:

90% of assignments satisfactorily completed = 15 points

80 - 89% of assignments satisfactorily completed = 12 points

70 - 79% of assignments satisfactorily completed = 9 points

60 - 69% of assignments satisfactorily completed = 6 points

50 - 59% of assignments satisfactorily completed = 3 points

<50% of homework assigned satisfactorily completed = 0 points

Enrichment Assignments/Projects: There will be many extra assignments or projects suggested to you over the term. These assignments, projects, interviews, etc. will again be graded on an S/U basis with a maximum of 15 total points to be earned toward your final grade.

At the end of the term, all of your points will be added together, and letter grades will be assigned based on the following scheme:

A 93 - 100 B+ 87 - 89 C+ 77 - 79

A- 90 - 92 B 83 - 86 C 73 - 76

B- 80 - 82 C- 70 - 72

A grade of F will be assigned only to students not successfully achieving 80% mastery of the material on all four in-class examinations.

Participation: You will be expected to participate in class. Learning is an active, not passive endeavor. I will be assigning group work, so you will be expected to interact with your fellow classmates. You may earn up to 5 points (a plus/minus letter grade) for participation in classroom discussions, demonstrations, etc. The assignment of these points will be left up to my discretion, but let me say that you must earn them. Remember, you are starting at zero and earning every point you receive.

Calculators: Students will be permitted the use of a non-graphing, non-programmable calculator on all but the first examination, and any calculator is acceptable for in-class use. I reserve the right to determine the appropriateness of any calculator during an examination. Please note that a calculator is not necessary nor required for this course, but you may want to have one. Also, if you do not already have a calculator and are considering buying one, you may want to purchase a scientific calculator (one that has log, sin, cos, tan keys), as you will be required to have one for ULC 148.

My Goals as Your ULC 146 Instructor: My goals are to provide attending students with a mastery of the algebraic tools and higher order thinking skills necessary for success in future mathematics courses, as well as to nurture confidence in your mathematical abilities. In addition to this, I hope to expose you to a number of mathematics study skills that you will choose to permanently adopt. By the end of the semester, you will have acquired a "bag of algebraic tools" and study skills. These tools and skills will be extremely useful throughout your remaining mathematical career. Therefore, developing a solid foundational understanding of algebra is imperative. Paralleling this (note the use of math lingo), I want all students to be confident in their abilities, and to enjoy and appreciate mathematics.

Tutoring: Beginning the third week of classes, FREE tutoring is available in the Math Place located in Talbert Hall, room 113. Hours of operation are Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm, and there will eventually be extended hours Monday - Thursday, 4pm - 8pm. Experienced tutors as well as instructors will be available to assist students with any material related to the ULC classes. All students are encouraged to take advantage of this valuable FREE resource. Any students who are maintaining grades below a "C" in the course are expected to visit the Math Place at least 2 hours per week.

Incomplete Grades: A grade of incomplete means that an event has occurred that is preventing the student from completing the coursework needed to earn a grade. There are two conditions for receiving an incomplete. First, there must be some extreme circumstance that justifies the "I" grade, and second, the student must be passing the course. It should also be understood that if a student meets these two conditions, they will only be allowed to finish the coursework that they were unable to complete. An "I" grade does not erase grades on exams, quizzes, homework, etc that were completed before the "I" grade is issued. Also, students have the responsibility to make up the incomplete during the following semester, and are expected to make arrangements with the Mathematics Coordinator to do so.

Miscellaneous Points:

You can come to see me in my office anytime. I am more than willing to help anyone out during non-office hour times when I am available. I will be around my office quite extensively to help with any problems students are having, and special appointments can be arranged for further help.

A newsgroup (Sunyab.ugc.146) has been created for all 146 sections. A newsgroup is like an electronic newspaper to which you may subscribe through your Unix account for free. Ideally, I would like students to post questions, thoughts, or solutions pertaining to what is happening in their 146 class. It is my hope that this networking across course sections will provide a medium for stimulating discussion and communication between both instructors and students. While use of the newsgroup is not a requirement of the course, monitoring of it will be strongly recommended. I will be posting bonus assignments, exam solutions, and questions for you to be thinking about throughout the course. If you don't know how to subscribe to newsgroups, see me and I can walk you through it.

In addition to the newsgroup, I will eventually be dedicating a large segment of my web-site to this class ( Stay tuned for further details on what you will find there.

I strongly encourage students to work together on all assignments, unless otherwise stated. Please understand that working together is not to be interpreted as copying or cheating in any form. When I say work together, it implies that the members of the group are all contributing to the assignment in some way.

Finally, I will be using e-mail as my main mode of communication with you outside of class. As a UB student, you are automatically assigned an e-mail account, and all you need to do to use it is find out your password and login. Therefore, it will be a class requirement for you to activate your e-mail account and check your messages periodically. If you have a phobia of computers, we can get you through it. Doing e-mail is fairly simple and will be a very valuable resource to you throughout your college career.

Here's to a great semester !!


Important Dates:

Mon. August 30 Instruction Begins
Mon. September 6 Labor Day - No Class
Fri. September 10 Last Day to Drop/Add Classes (without "R" grade)
Fri. September 17 Conference - No Class
Mon. September 20 Yom Kippur - No Class
Tues. September 21 Follow Monday Schedule
Fri. October 22 Last Day to Resign with "R" Grade
Fri. November 12 Extended "R" for First Semester Undergrads Deadline
Wed. November 24 - Fri. November 26 Fall Recess - No Classes
Fri. December 10 Last Day of Instruction
Mon. December 13 - Mon. December 20 Final Exam Week

Proposed Text Coverage (subject to change):

Chapter 1 Introduction to Real Numbers and Algebraic Expressions
Chapter 2 Solving Equations and Inequalities
Chapter 3 Graphs of Equations; Data Analysis
Chapter 4 Polynomials: Operations
Chapter 5 Polynomials: Factoring

In addition to this, students will continually be exposed to mathematics study skills as a formal component of the course.