Math 105, Math in Society @ BMCC

Overview
This is a course in modern mathematics. We will be exploring a number of topics that have been developed fairly recently in the mathematical world, along with some more traditional ones.

This class will be nothing like an intermediate algebra course. If you prefer equations and expressions, this is not the class for you. We will be looking at topics that might not seem like math to you. Many of these topics will be explored in context of their applications.

The purpose of this course is to expose you to the wider world of mathematical thinking. There are two reasons for this. First, for you to understand the power of quantitative thinking and the power of numbers in solving and dealing with real world scenarios. Secondly, for you to understand that there is more to mathematics then expressions and equations.

Course Description:
Math in Society is a rigorous mathematics course designed for students in Liberal Arts and Humanities majors. The course provides a solid foundation in quantitative reasoning, symbolic reasoning, and problem solving techniques needed to be a productive, contributing citizen in the 21st century.

Course Outcomes: Skills and abilities that result from the course.

  • Mathematical Reasoning: Students will read a complex problem requiring quantitative and/or symbolic analysis, use flexibility in selecting a solution strategy, and impose an appropriate mathematical structure or mathematical procedure in solving the problem.
  • Mathematical Habits of Thought: Students will determine the reasonableness and implications of mathematical solutions, and will recognize the limitations of the methods used in context.
  • Mathematical Decision-Making: Students will apply mathematical processes and solutions in making personal and societal choices.
  • Mathematical Communication: Student will use appropriate representations to effectively communicate, orally and in writing, quantitative results and mathematical processes. 
  • Mathematical Symbols, Techniques & Computation: Students will demonstrate proficiency in the skills supporting mathematical understanding.

Prerequisite
The pre-requisite for this course is Math 98, Quantitative Literacy, or Math 95, Intermediate Algebra, with a C or better, or a suitable placement test score. 

Technical Expectations
To be successful in this course, you will need some technical skills.  Most important is access to a computer with a reliable internet connection, and the ability to operate that computer and a web browser.  If you are reading this, you're probably OK for this part.  There will be a couple assignments that ask you to upload files, cut-and-paste internet addresses (URLs), etc.  In most cases, a non-technical alternative is available if needed.

Is this course right for you?
Math 105 is almost a terminal math course, meaning it does not prepare you for many other math classes.  You could take Statistics after this, but not Trigonometry or Calculus.

Hopefully you went to an adviser who knows your educational goals when deciding which class to take.  If you're not sure if this class is right for you, please feel free to talk to me or email me and I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

Textbook
I got tired of students having to pay over $100 for the book.  So instead of using a traditional textbook, a book that David Lippman wrote will be used.  The book will be available free online in PDF format.  If you prefer reading from print, you are welcome to print out the PDFs, or have the relevant chapters printed at the BMCC bookstore.
 
If you wish to read beyond the materials I provide, you can find additional material online, or in more traditional textbooks available in the library;  Excursions in Modern Mathematics by Tannenbaum is a good choice.

Format of the Course
This course is not self-paced. Each week there will be a specific set of material to learn, and assignments and tests on that material. There will be fixed due-dates for those assignments. You can log into the online, classroom any times during the week that are convenient for you and complete the assignments. You should attend class, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12-1:30.

Each week, you will be given a reading assignment. Reading the textbook will be your secondary way to learn the material for the course. Attend the on-campus lectures.

There will also be a playlist of videos that correspond with the examples in the book.  You should use these to supplement the reading, not replace it, as there is a lot of content in the book that is not included in the videos.  These videos will hopefully help you understand an example if you're having trouble following it in print.

The lectures, book, and videos will provide the theory and skills needed to approach the exercises, quiz, and writing assignment.  Unlike algebra classes, this class is about solving problems, not just replicating skills, so some questions may not be exactly like problems in class or in the book.  For those, you will need to figure out how to adapt what you've learned to solve the new and different problem.

A discussion forum will be provided where you can ask questions about the reading, and discuss the material with me and your classmates. This is one way you can get help when you don't understand the book besides attending class.

There will be a set of homework exercises assigned each week. The online homework exercises are required, and graded.  However, if you miss a question, it will show the answer, allowing you to self-diagnose your mistake, and then you can try similar problems until you get the questions correct.  You can ask questions in the discussion board about any homework questions you have difficulty with.   These exercises will allow you to explore and practice the material from the chapter.  The exercises will be due at the end of the week.

Each week there will be a "Skills Quiz". This will be a quiz consisting of problems similar, but not necessarily identical, to the homework problems, that test your understanding of the material and your ability to perform any procedures or techniques presented in that chapter. These questions will be numerical, multiple-choice, matching, or fill-in-the-blank.  The quiz will be due at the end of the week.

Additionally, each week there will be an written/extended assignment not from the book. This assignment will be a more open-ended question that usually requires a bit more work, conceptual understanding, possibly some outside research, and may require a written solution or explanation.  These questions provide a less procedural exploration of the topic being covered, focusing on critical thinking and quantitative reasoning.  In some cases these may be collaborative assignments with intermediary due dates in the middle of the week.  Be sure to check the classroom at the beginning  of the week to see if there are any such intermediary due dates.

Except in the case of collaborative assignments requiring feedback to fellow students, there are no graded forum response, email, or log-in frequency requirements.  However, I strongly encourage you to not wait until the last day of the week to begin your assignments, as this does not allow time to seek out assistance if needed.

There will proctored exams for the midterm and final.  You will have a week during which you can take this exam at your convenience at a BMCC ccenter, or through an external proctor by arrangement. 

This quarter we will be studying these topics (in order):

Week 1: Problem Solving
Week 2: Logic
Week 3: Growth Models
Week 4: Finance 
Week 5: Collecting data, Mid-term exam
Week 6: Describing data
Week 7: Probability
Week 8: Voting Theory
Week 9: Graph Theory
Week 10: Final review (no new material)
Finals Week: Final Exam

Learning Outcomes
The course learning outcomes (aka objectives) describe what abilities and skills a successful student is expected to develop and demonstrate in this course.  While often related, these are separate from the course content (the specific topics we'll be covering)

  1. Describe how mathematics can contribute to the solution of problems in the natural world or human society.
  2. Employ critical thinking skills, drawing upon prior knowledge when possible, to analyze and explore new and unfamiliar problems
  3. Form and communicate generalizations of patterns discovered through individual or group investigations.
  4. Solve problems using algorithms or formulas
  5. Model and solve problems using graphical methods
  6. Communicate methods of solutions and solutions to problems for the clarity of the receiver.
  7. Analyze and interpret data, including calculating numerical summaries and creating graphical representations, to propose possible implications
  8. Identify multicultural perspectives of, or multicultural contributions to, at least one mathematical topic studied
Within each week's folder, you will find a list of that week's topic-based learning outcomes, and how they related back to these course outcomes.  You will be able to meet these learning outcomes by reading the book, making sure you understand the examples in the book, and working through the online exercises, seeking out assistance if you have difficulties.  You will, of course, also need to apply your critical thinking skills, since part of the purpose of this course is to expand your ability apply the skills you've learned to new and different scenarios.  In real life, problems rarely tell you how to solve them :)
 
Feedback
The homework exercises and skills quizzes are automatically graded by MyOpenMath.com, and you will receive instant feedback on those assignments. 
 
If you email me work for problems you missed on the skills quiz, I will typically grade those after the quiz due date, usually within 2-3 days.
 
Written/extended assignments I manually grade.  I typically will grade these over the week after they're due.  Your score, with feedback, will show in the MyOpenMath.com gradebook after they're scored.

Late Work Policy
The online Homework and Skills Test deadlines are extremely firm. The link to these assignments will actually disappear at midnight on the due date, and the assignment must be completed before midnight. Because of this, I strongly recommend that students not wait until 11:50pm to start the test, in case if they have problems logging in or something.

The Graded Assignments deadlines are also very firm, since you have the entire week to work on them. If a graded assignment is turned in late, I will never give more than 50% of the possible points.

If something major comes up (a death in the family, hospitalization, etc.), go ahead and email me or call me to let me know, and we can work something out.

Getting Help

Come to class. Visit your instructors office hours: 9am daily or by appointment.

The discussion board is a forum where you can ask questions about the reading or homework, and get help from me or your classmates. The idea is to have the class operate like a study group - with all of you working together to further your learning. This is what distinguishes an online class from a traditional distance learning or math lab course.

Use the Discussion Board to ask for help on problems you don't understand how to do. If you do understand how to do the problems, help out your classmates by answering questions on the discussion board.

I will monitor the homework discussion boards, and will respond to questions if they go unanswered, or if someone provides an incorrect response. If you have additional questions, didn't understand the answer someone gave you, or have a question that has gone unanswered, don't hesitate to email me and ask questions. However, please use the discussion boards first, so that others can benefit from your questions.

I can't stress enough that without being able to see the expression on your face, there's no way for me to judge if you understand my or a fellow student's explanation to your questions. So, you need to be proactive about your learning, and ask for more explanation when you need it. Again, you can do this via email to me, or in the discussion boards.

In addition to the discussion board and emailing me, you are also welcome to come see me on-campus if your schedule allows. See the Instructor Information to see what my office hours are this quarter.

Additionally, you can get help from the drop-in tutors at the Academic Support Center on either campus. Be aware that not all tutors have taken this math course, and may have difficulty helping you. Writing tutors are also available to help with writing assignments.

Instructor Contact
You can contact me via the discussion boards, email, messages, by phone, or in person.

Please check Instructor Information for my email address, phone number, and office location and hours.

If you have general questions about the course, you can ask them in the "Ask Coach Parker" discussion forum. If the question is of a personal nature, feel free to email me.

If you have questions about the homework or readings, you can ask them in the weekly discussion forums. Feel free to email me, call me, or visit me for additional help.

When you post a message or email me, please understand that I am not online all the time. Please allow at least 24 hours for me to respond to your questions, possibly longer on the weekends (up to 48 hours). Because of the asynchronous nature of the course, please ask questions early enough to allow time for a response.

Grading
The first week of class there is a bio assignment and syllabus quiz.
Each week you will have online Homework.
Each week you will have a Skills Quiz.
Each week there will be a written/extended assignment.
There will be a proctored mid-term exam and a final exam


Online homework will count for 20% of your course grade.
Skills Quizzes will count for 20% of your course grade.
Written assignments will count for 20% of your course grade.
The Midterm and Final will count for 40% of your course grade.

Your weighted percent in the class will be converted to a decimal grade via this scale:
90-100%: A = 4
80-89.99% : B = 3
70-79.99% : C = 2
60-69.99%: D = 1
Below 60%: F = 0

Academic Integrity
Online courses have the same academic integrity as any other college course. You can trust that I will respond to your questions and comments in a timely manner, as well as be timely and fair in grading submitted assignments.

As your instructor, I trust that you will make your best effort to complete the activities in a timely manner and to the best of your abilities. If there is an unforeseen change in your schedule feel free to contact me for alternative arrangements. I expect that the work you submit for this course will be your own work. Cheating and/or plagiarism will not be tolerated. Please refer to the college's Academic Dishonesty policy for more details. If there is any evidence of cheating, it will be reported to the Office of Instruction. A negative grade will be assigned on the first offence and an F in the course on the second.

Online Etiquette
Much has been written about online etiquette. The old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." is suddenly untrue. Words are our sole means of communication. Many times a sarcastic phrase you make to a friend is softened with a smile or eye contact. In an online situation, that same phrase can be very hurtful if read differently. Remember treat everyone the same way you would want to be treated: with respect.

There are ways to express emotions without words. These are called emoticons. You've probably seen several already in computer writing: ;-) :) :o) :-( etc., These are actually faces turned on their side to represent emotions. They take the place of body language and facial expressions that are a natural part of communication. In this setting, it's difficult sometimes to discern between sarcasm and criticism. Using emoticons can often convey the context of the comment when words can't.

Most importantly, this class will be free of sexual, verbal, and racial discrimination or harassment.

Disability Services
Students with disabilities who believe they may need academic adjustments, auxiliary aids or services to fully participate in course activities or meet course requirements are encouraged to register with the Access and Disability Services (ADS) Office.