Course Information

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MTH098 Syllabus

MTH098 Algebra for Poets Winter 2016

Gary G. Parker
Department of Mathematics
Blue Mountain Community College

Office: Emigrant 109
Office hours: 9AM daily and by appointment
Telephone: 541-278-5772
Email: [email protected]
Contact me to schedule alternate office hours.

Course Description: Students will study arithmetic and algebra in different contexts. This course provides the algebra, quantitative reasoning, and problem solving skills necessary for success in Math 105. Students will solve a variety of contextual and open-ended mathematical problems. The course is alternate pathway to Math 105 for students not intending to take calculus. Technology such as calculators and spreadsheets will be explored. (Credits: 5)

Recommended Prerequisites: Successful completion of MTH 025 or appropriate placement or equivalent as determined by the Mathematics Department.

Required Materials:

  • Quantway 1.1.2015
  • Calculator, Spreadsheet, Graph Paper, Ruler
  • access

Student Outcomes: After completion of this course the student will demonstrate proficiency in the following areas:
⇒ Students will discuss and solve contextual and open-ended mathematical problems.
Students will apply number sense to a variety of quantitative scenarios.
⇒ Students will create, analyze, and discuss simple algebraic models.
⇒ Students will read, create, and interpret graphs.
⇒ Students will measure and interpret quantities.
⇒ Students will demonstrate basic statistical reasoning.

Method of Instruction: There will be group and project work on a daily basis. Attendance is expected, along with your commitment to do math everyday.


  • Your attendance is expected along with your most sincere effort. You are paying to be here; you ought to show up for class, ON TIME. You can show up late once, quietly.
  • Don’t cheat or you’ll be sorry. Although the instructor assumes that no cheating will take place, any evidence of cheating will be reported to the VP of Instruction, pursued thoroughly and dealt with strictly. A negative grade will be assigned on the first instance of cheating; An F in the course will be assigned on the second.
  • Each section covered should be read before the scheduled lecture and worked through immediately after the lecture.
  • You are also expected to be considerate in class, upholding the utmost respect for the educational environment. If you are inconsiderate, then you will be asked to leave.

Homework: Homework is required and should be worked on daily. There
are online exercises available though Online homework is due soon after it is assigned and before the unit test date. Keep your homework in a loose-leaf notebook for easy reference when you have questions and in preparing for tests. Make sure that you show all of your work. Communicating a process is as valuable as showing an answer, especially when you are looking back at it later. When you are done with college nobody will care whether you can find an oblique asymptote of an improper rational function, but you will be expected to clearly communicate complex ideas.
It is required that you take a practice unit test. These practice tests are extremely important to your success.
It is also required that you submit corrections to any exam questions that you get wrong.
You may be given other assignments throughout the quarter.

Testing Procedures: There will be three mid-term exams, plus a comprehensive final exam.
Quizzes may be distributed throughout the quarter.
No make-up exams or quizzes will be given. 
The final exam must be taken during finals week.

Method of Evaluation:
Your final grade will be a weighted average of all of your homework, quiz and exam grades.

Homework & Preparations 25%   A is ≥ 90%
In Class Work 25%   B is ≥ 80%
Quizzes & Exams 50%   C is ≥ 70%
      D is ≥ 60%
      F is < 60%

Special Services and Student Accommodations: Students requiring assistance beyond the services provided in the regular classroom activities must seek out the instructor after class.
Additional assistance is available at the Special Programs Tutoring Center.
Persons having questions about or requests for special needs and accommodation should contact
the Assistant Director, Admissions and Advising at Blue Mountain Community College, 2411 N.W.
Carden, Pendleton OR 97801, Phone 541-278-5931 or TDD 541-278-2174. Contact should be made
72 hours in advance of the event.

Disclaimer: The syllabus may change depending upon the needs of a particular class. Please
verify topics, tests and other due dates with your instructor.

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Math Utilities

.org | Beautiful, Free Math


TI-84 Resources

Atomic Learning - TI-84 Silver Edition Calculator Training (

TI Graphing Calculator Guide Books

Wabbit TI (

Smart Phone Math Apps

Android Apps


MathLab Graphing Calculator


 iPhone Apps

Good Grapher

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This course is a work-in progress, adapted by faculty from Pierce College (Lakewood, WA) from Quantway Version 1.0, developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin under sponsorship of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

This course is a developmental-level course, intended to prepare students for non-STEM college-level math courses, like math in society, and perhaps statistics or math for elementary educators.  It takes a highly contextual, highly active-learning approach to mathematics.  The student lessons won't make a lot of sense by themselves - make sure you look at the Instructor lessons in the Instructor Resources folder; they are essential to understanding the lessons.

Some of the original material has been changed by us.  The original versions are available via the Dropbox link in the Instructor Resources folder, as well as the Word files of our revisions.

Note that most of the homework in this course is from the original QW OCEs, and is not algorithmic.

There are a handful of links in this course that did not come through when I transferred the course - I'll try to get those repaired eventually.

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Writing about Quantitative Information


You might be surprised that you are asked to write short responses to questions in this course. Writing in a math class? This course emphasizes writing for the following two reasons:

  • Writing is a learning tool. Explaining things such as the meaning of data, how you calculated the data, or how you know your answer is correct deepens your own understanding of the material.

  • Communication is an important skill in quantitative literacy. Quantitative information is used widely in today’s world in products such as reports, news articles, publicity materials, advertising, and grant applications.

Understanding the Task

One important strategy in writing is to make sure you understand the task. In this course, your tasks will be questions in assignments, but in other situations the task might be a question on a report form, instructions from your employer, or a goal that you set for yourself. To begin to write successfully, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the topic of the writing task?

  • What is the task telling me to do? Some examples are given below:

    • Describe how you found the answer.

    • Explain why you think you have the right answer.

    • Reflect on the process of coming up with the answer.

    • Make a prediction about the next data point.

    • Compare two data points or the answers to two parts of the problem.

  • What information am I given to help me with the task?

A Basic Writing Principle for Quantitative Information

Writing Principle: Use specific and complete information. The reader should understand what you are trying to say even if he or she has not read the question or writing prompt. This includes

  • information about context, and

  • quantitative information.

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Understanding Visual Displays of information

Data are increasingly presented in a variety of forms intended to interest you and invite you to think about the importance of these data and how they might affect your lives. The following are some of the types of common displays:

  • pie charts,

  • scatterplots,

  • histograms and bar graphs,

  • line graphs,

  • tables, and

  • pictographs. 

Strategy for Understanding

A strategy for understanding visual displays of information is to ask questions about the displays.

What questions should you ask yourself when you study a visual display of information?

  • What is the title of the chart or graph?

  • What question is the data supposed to answer? (For example: How many males versus females exercise daily?)

  • How are the columns and rows labeled? How are the vertical and horizontal axes labeled?

  • Select one number or data point and ask, “What does this mean?” 

Use the following chart to help you understand what some basic types of visual displays of information tell you and what questions they usually answer.

This looks like a …

This visual display is usually used to …

For example, it can be used to show …

pie chart

  • show the relationships between different parts compared to a whole.

  • how time is used in a 24-hour cycle.

  • how money is distributed.

  • how something is divided up.

line graph

  • show trends over time.

  • compare trends of two different items or measurements.

  • what seems to be increasing.

  • what is decreasing.

  • how the cost of gas has increased in the last
    10 years.

  • which of these foods (milk, steak, cookies, eggs) has risen most rapidly in price compared to the others.

histogram or bar graph

  • compare data in different categories.

  • show changes over time.

  • how a population is broken up into different age categories.

  • how college tuition rates are changing over time.


  • organize data to make specific values easy to read.

  • break data up into overlapping categories.

  • the inflation rates over a period of years.

  • how a population is broken into males and females of different age categories.

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