Math 150, Fall 2015

About This Course

Math 150 is a web-based course with the materials ranging from linear equations and to discrete probability . All sections are self-paced. You do most of studying and test-taking on your own, following the instructions offered through the course website. All homework assignments/exams are opened to students on the first day of the semester in MyMathLab. This means you can do your homework and take your tests anytime when you are able to access to internet before they are due. The due dates show in MyMahtlab and are also listed in the Weekly Lesson Plans. MyMathLab can be accessed through your BlackBoard by clicking "MyMathLab" on the left of the screen after you get into your course Math 150. All homework can be done anywhere you can access to internet, but the quiz and the exams are required to be taken in one of our computer labs, Carver 250 and 449.

Each student has been assigned to a section, and each section has an official meeting time. During the first week the TAs will use that time to give an introduction to the course and get everyone signed up for MyMathLab. It is highly recommended that you show up at your scheduled time the first week. Before you go, read Getting Started. If you can't make it at the scheduled time, go at one of the other times (see schedule).

After the first week, we will run the section meetings as office hours. A TA will be in the lab and lecture on the materials if there is demand, or help you one-on-one. At high-demand times before exams, we may have extra TAs there. You can attend any section meeting, but it is up to you whether you want to show up or not (or show up several times). To the students who attend section meetings at least once a week, we will give 1% credit in the final as reward.

To the students who prefer to attending a class with an instructor in a classroom, you may drop this one and take it during the summer (Check with the math department office for the availability of in-classroom math 150).

Adding and Dropping

We don't sign people into sections that the registrar shows as full. You can sign up for any section that has space available, and attend at a different time if you want.

We will not let anybody join the class after Monday of the third week. That will give the students at least 4 days to get caught up with all assignments up to that point. There will not be any signups after that date, and no extensions on assignments for students adding late. (The details are given in the FAQ file.)

In the first three weeks of the classes, only Dr Pan sign the drop slips. Afterward all TAs can also do it.


The course administrator is Dr. Jun Pan. The TA coordinator is Alex Schulte. The TAs are O'Neill Kinston, Susan Ann Johnson, Tim Dai, Tetiana Takhistova, and Peimeng Yin. Click on the "Instructors" heading for more information about your instructors.

Dr. Pan handles everything computer-related: web site, online exams, score keeping, as well as other requests: adds and drops, disability accommodation, deadline extensions, etc. The TAs answer questions about the mathematical materials, and simple questions about problems with your computer and the course web site.

Textbook and Access Code

You need two things for this class: a textbook and an access code. The access code is absolutely essential. A hard copy of book is optonal. You may use an e-book, so you could get by without a printed book.

The access code comes included with a new textbook (can be bought from the ISU bookstore). If you buy a used book, or you are going to use an e-book, you have to buy an access code separately, either from ISU bookstore or online when you sign up for MyMathLab. When you decide to buy only an access code from ISU bookstore, be sure you buy a code for MyMathLab.

You will need an access code to do all of assignments and take exams. If you are waiting for financial aid to come through, you can use a temporary access code. Details are given in the document Getting Started.

The book is Barnett/Ziegler/Byleen, Finite Mathematics for Business, Economics, Life Sciences and Social Sciences, 13th Edition, the loose leaf version with a MML code, ISBN: 0321947460.

If you have a copy of the 11th or 12th edition, you can also use it. No very big difference on materials between the two editions, but there are many changes in the exercises.

For the students who retake the course
You don't have to buy a new code. Contact a Pearson representative. He/She will help you. The contact information is given in the document Getting Started.

Calculators and Computers

A TI-83 or TI-84 graphing calculator is recommended in this class. For those students who are really good at math, a calculator with some statistical functions is good enought. Some problems in the assignments say to use a graphing calculator, but you don't really need one. You can almost do them in your head. If you truly have to solve an equation with a graphing calculator, Excel may be a good replacement.

You can do your homework on any computer anytime anywhere the internet is available, but you can take exams only in one of the Math computer labs, Carver 449 or 250.

Attention! It is known that MyMathLabs, our online homework site, does not play nicely with Safari, the native web browser in Apple's OS. We sugget you use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. The download links are below.



Course Content

We will be covering parts of appendix A (review of algebra), and chapters 1 through 8 and 11. The main topics are

You will find the details in the weekly lesson plans, which is a very important document guilding your study of the course. Strongly suggest you read the corresponding topics before you do your homework or take an exam.


Your final grade is based on your overall percentage. We add up all points from homeworks and exams (quiz), and convert that to a percentage. At the end of the semester, we add up to 3% of extra credit. Homework assignments make up 38% of your score, exams 62%. Details are given in the Grades.

Due Dates And Late Assignments

Each assignment has a due date (see weekly lesson plans) . Make sure you stay ahead of the deadlines. We will only grant exceptions for verifiable and unforeseeable circumstances. foreseeable means: if you know beforehand that you will be out of town for a sports meet or a military training, or anything else, you have to work ahead. Verifiable means: if you get sick, be prepared to back it up with a doctor's note.

If you cannot finish an assignment on time, ask Dr Pan for an extension as soon as possible. For foreseeable events, that means before you leave town. For other events, that means as soon as possible afterwards. Even with the flu you can still send email.

The first three homework assignments (#0, 1 and 2) have a deadline, but you can actually complete them until the end of week 3. That is for the benefit of students who add the class late. Don't get used to it, that only works for the first three assignments.

The course coordinator reserves the right to handle requests for make-up assignments on an individual basis. Usually we go by the rules below, but there is no guarantee that we always will.

If you get sick or otherwise are unable to complete an assignment, and you contact Dr Pan as soon as you know about it, we will usually give you an extension without requiring further documentation (doctor's note or whatever). We may impose extra consequences if your problem is due to procrastination (see next paragraph). The second time you need an extension, be prepared to back it up with proof.

We reserve the right to impose further consequences on make-up assignments, such as limiting an exam to one try instead of three, forfeiting the 1% possible extra credit for homeworks or exams, or other conditions. You can expect this if you "forget" to complete an assignment, or you wait several days to contact us, or if you procrastinate and wait until shortly before the deadline and run into snags.


Homeworks are done in MyMathLab from any computer. There are four kinds of homeworks: regular homeworks, Excel homeworks, practice exams, and an exam policies homework.

Regular Homeworks

There are 12 regular homeworks. Each of them contains 15-20 problems, worth 40 points. The problems can be done and re-done in any order, independently of each other.

The first one is a special Homework 0 about course policies, which will quiz you on items in the syllabus (and some of the documents referenced there). If it is in the syllabus, you are supposed to know about it, and this HW 0 will make sure of that. You cannot do any other assignment (except HW 1) until you have finished HW 0 with a 100% score. That is not as harsh as it sounds: you can repeat each question individually until you get it right.

You have all sorts of help available during the regular homeworks: you can call up an online version of the relevant textbook section, you can ask for a solved similar problem, you can ask to be walked through the problem step by step. Some problems have videos attached.

If you use one of the helps, or if you type in the wrong answer 3 times, you need to click on Similar Problem for a new version of the same problem. You can repeat each problem until you get it right. It is only the last score that counts for each problem. The system does not even save any earlier scores.

There is really no excuse not to get 100% credit on all the homework, except that you didn't spend the necessary time on it. As an extra incentive, you will get 1% extra credit if you complete all the regular and Excel homework problems with at least an 80% score.

Also read the Homework section in the FAQ web page.

Excel Homeworks

There are 2 Excel homeworks. They each contain only 1, 2 or 3 problems (usually multi-part), and are worth 15 points each. These problems are too big to solve by hand; you have to use technology.

The intention is that you will do those problems using Excel. You can learn how to do that through the videos of Excel HW Tutorials (can be found in the Weekly Lesson Plans ). However, we have no way of checking what you actually use. Some of them could be done with a graphing calculator, or by other means. Either way, you will need some kind of technology.

Practice Exams

Practice Exams are different from homeworks in several respects: You don't have any of the help functions available, and you don't get feedback until you are done with all questions. You are limited to 3 tries, and there is a time limit. Many students have reported that the first exam was a shock to the system, so we put in some practice exams.

The practice exams are a bit shorter (10 questions instead of 12), but otherwise identical to the real exams. You can take them from any computer. The password for all practice exams is "practice".

Practice exams only carry a small amount of credit (10 or 20 points each), but you have to try them at least once. You cannot take an exam until you have taken the corresponding practice exam at least once and get at least 10% of credit. Practice Exams are counted as part of the homework score for the grades (so do your best on them and get the highest score you can), but they are not counted towards the extra credit(1%) for passing all homeworks at the 80% and up level.

Exam Policies Homework

The exam policies are listed in the Exam Policies document. It is your responsibility to read this document, and to be aware of the rules. You are required to complete an Exam Policies Homework with a 100% score before you are allowed to take the practice exam and then the exam. It is not counted to your final grade, but just for you to be aware of the exams rules since they are so important.

Quiz and Practice Quiz

There is one quiz containing 10 questions from Sections 3.1, 3.2, 5.1 and 5.2, which is worth 30 points. It has to be taken in one of the computer labs, Carver 250 and 449. You have 3 tries on it.

Practice Quiz is just for your practice, not counted to your final grade.


There are four exams and the final exam, which are required to be taken in one of the computer labs in Carver. This is where most of the credit for this class comes from. You have 3 tries for each. Don't waste them.

The recommended procedure is this:

Don't wait until the last possible moment to take the exam. There may be lines outside the labs (if too many people are procrastinating), or you may run into computer problems or other snags.

There are a lot more things you should know about the exams. This is all written up in the Exam Policies, but you don't need to read that until you get ready to take the first exam, several weeks into the course.

Computer Grading

A common complaint from students is "I have basically the correct answer, but in a slightly different form than the computer wants. Can I get credit?".

The short answer is this: if your answer is truly correct, just in a different format, contact Dr. Pan and request a review. If your answer is only approximately correct, or has a typo in it, you will not get credit. The long answer is given in the FAQ file.

Before you contact Dr. Pan, ask yourself whether your anwer is truly correct. Sometimes the answer has multiple fields to be filled in. If one of them is wrong, the whole answer counts as wrong. (Yes, we would like partial credit here, but we don't have this option). Correct is not the same as approximately correct. 0.25 is the same as 1/4, but 0.33 is not the same as 1/3.

Also read the problem carefully for statements like "enter the answer as a fraction", or "enter the answer to 3 decimal places", and check that you did that.

When you ask, make sure to include all details: which homework or exam? If it is an exam, which of your multiple tries? Which questions? Your name and section?

Lab (Office) Hours

If you need help with the materials, you can go to any lab meeting and ask a TA there. Check the Schedule before you go.

The line of students waiting for Lab(office) hour help has gotten quite long a few times, usually right before an exam. In such cases, the TA holding the office hour has the right to impose rules that guarantee that everybody gets a turn within a reasonable time.

The TA may work with students in groups, he/she may set up some students to work on something together while he/she helps other students, he/she may limit the time for each student to 5 minutes (after which a student would have to go to the end of the line and wait their turn again).

The course coordinator also has office hours, but those are not for help with the math materials. Contact Dr Pan with any questions or problems involving the course web site, online assignments, or grades. She also handles the questions, such as signing an add/drop slip, giving permission to make up an assignment, or other special arrangements.

Students With Disabilities

If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, you should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) from the Disability Resources office (Student Services Building, Room 1076, 294-6624 or TDD 294-6335, or Please contact your Math 150 course administrator early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met.

More information about disability resources in the Mathematics Department can be found at

Conduct and Academic Dishonesty

We expect all students to behave in a respectful manner during classes. For more information, including make up policies, see the Class Policies provided by the Department of Mathematics.

last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015