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MA 109 Syllabus

Calculus I

Primarily for Biology and Social Science Majors

Fall 2014

Saint Vincent College

General Information

  • 4 credits
  • Prerequisite: Although there is no formal prerequisite, students should have a good background in precalculus mathematics (such as that provided by MA 104, Elementary Functions).
  • Instructor: Brother David Carlson
  • Office: Dupre Science Pavilion, Tenley Hall W217
  • Office hours:
    • Mon, Wed, Fri 9:30 am - 10:20 am
    • Mon, Fri 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
    • Tue, Thurs 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
    • Mon, Wed 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    • and by appointment
  • Phone: 724-805-2416
  • Email: or
  • The mathematics department will have tutors available to assist students with this course.
  • Text: Calculus and Its Applications, 13th. ed., by Goldstein, Lay, Schneider, and Asmar, Pearson Education (2014), ISBN 978-0-321-84890-1. Beware of getting a different edition or an international edition as these are likely to vary in the exercises (and perhaps the topics covered as well).


The course covers chapters 0 through 6 of the above text. Calculus I consists of a study of the elementary functions, limits, the derivative and its applications, the definite integral and its applications, as well as some techniques of integration. Applications are presented primarily from biology, business, and the social sciences, though on occasion applications from other areas are used as well. Graphing calculators, Mathematica, and WeBWorK are used to assist in the study of various concepts of calculus.

Why Take This Course?

This is a required course for some majors. Calculus is often a prerequisite for entry into graduate schools as well. Since mathematics in general, and often calculus in particular, is the language used to describe much of modern science, it is an essential tool for science students.

Core Goals

This course contributes especially toward the following core curriculum goals, listed in order of emphasis.
  1. To develop mathematical skills and quantitative literacy
  2. To form habits of ordered inquiry, logical thinking, and critical analysis
  3. To develop effective communication skills (especially in the writing of good mathematics in the solution of problems)

Course Goals and Means of Assessment

  1. By the end of the course, the student should know and understand the basic concepts of calculus.
  2. By the end of the course, the student should know and understand the main theorems covered, especially the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
  3. By the end of the course, the student should be proficient in applying the problem-solving techniques treated in the course, including the use of Mathematica and the graphing calculator.
  4. By the end of the course, the student should see connections between calculus and other areas of mathematics.
These goals will be assessed mainly through the use of homework, quizzes, and exams. Informal discussion with students will also assist, especially with the last goal above.

Grading and Course Policies

  • 20% First Exam
  • 20% Second Exam
  • 20% Third Exam
  • 25% Final Exam
  • 15% Homework and Quizzes
Letter grades will be assigned according to the scheme given in the current College Bulletin. Exams will be announced in advance. A quiz will be given during some class periods and typically will not be announced. Each quiz will consist of a few problems (or perhaps just one problem) of the type done recently. Much of the homework will be done in the WeBWorK online homework system, which will grade your homework automatically. It also typically allows you more than one attempt at each problem. Your instructor will provide you with an account and the URL needed to use this system. On occasion a non-WeBWorK homework assignment, especially one involving the use of a graphing calculator or Mathematica, may be graded and counted in the homework/quiz category. Exams and in-class quizzes will usually be closed-book, closed-notes in nature. Calculators may be used on the exams and quizzes. In fact, a graphing calculator is required to solve some of the problems. Cell phones and pagers should be turned off and put away during exams and quizzes. On a test students may only use the test itself, calculators, pens, pencils, and erasers. Calculators may not be passed between students during exams or quizzes. No laptops, computers, cell phones, tablets and the like may be used on an exam or quiz.

The questions posed on tests, quizzes, and homework will generally be of the mathematical problem-solving type. These require careful analysis using the rules of mathematics and logic, the writing of the steps of the problem's solution in good mathematical language, and the production of correct conclusions. You may also be asked to produce a graph of a certain situation and to interpret what you find. A typical problem requires a third to a half page of mathematical explanation, and a typical exam contains at least a dozen such problems.

A graphing calculator is required for this course. It will be used for certain homework assignments as well as on exams and quizzes. The TI-82, TI-83, TI-84, TI-86, and similar are recommended but other calculators that can handle the same types of problems will suffice. You must have a calculator that can produce the graph of a function within an arbitrary viewing window, integrate numerically, and solve equations. Do NOT get a calculator that does symbolic differentiation and integration, as these are not allowed on exams and quizzes in this course. (This is because their use would tempt you to write answers without giving the steps needed to produce them, reducing your level of understanding and causing you to lose points on exams.)

Both the instructor and students are expected to do their best to produce a good class and to treat each other with respect. This includes many factors, such as listening when someone else is speaking, trying to understand what others are saying, being of assistance to others, etc. It definitely does NOT include making fun of others. On a practical level, do your best to improve your grade: read the text, attend class, do the work, ask questions, and try to answer questions in class. Mathematics is not a spectator sport! It requires active participation and repeated practice. If you begin to feel lost, consult one of the tutors, see the instructor, or work through the difficulties with the help of another student in the course. Do not let yourself get behind. Note in particular that attendance is expected. Student performance is bound to deteriorate when classes are missed. In order to emphasize the importance of attendance, the policies outlined after this paragraph will be used.

  • If the student does not attain an overall passing test average, a failing grade will be received for the course.
  • Each unexcused class absence after one week's worth (4 classes) results in 1 percentage point being deducted from the final course grade.
  • Arriving late for class or leaving early (without a proper excuse) is counted as 1/2 of an absence.
  • An unexcused absence from an exam results in the failure of the course.
  • Unexcused absence from more than one-third of the semester's classes results in the failure of the course.
  • Attendance is used to decide borderline grades at the end of the semester.
  • Unexcused absence from class means a grade of zero on any quiz given in that class.
  • Late work is not accepted unless resulting from an excused absence.
  • Written documentation (such as a note from a doctor's office or coach of one's sports team) is normally required for an absence to be excused. Always bring a copy of such a note to give to your instructor when class must be missed. In special circumstances, check with your instructor, as it is not always possible to get documentation.
  • The lowest 2 homework/quiz grades (but not Mathematica/calculator assignment grades) will be dropped at the end of the semester. This is intended to cover absences due to minor illnesses, sports, and the like.
  • The mini-test on integration, near the end of the course, will count as 3 quizzes. Be sure not to miss it!
  • Exam and quiz questions normally require you to show all major steps for producing the answer to each question. Failure to do so will likely result in losing most of the points on the problem. Exceptions where you can simply write the answer will be clearly marked.
Make-up quizzes will not normally be given. For an excused absence, the student will simply be excused from the quiz. Make-up exams are strongly discouraged. If possible, take the regularly scheduled exam. For an excused absence for a significant reason, the instructor may agree to give a make-up exam. Whenever possible, see your instructor ahead of time if you know you must miss an exam (e.g. due to sports). Normally some type of written documentation is required (such as a note from the coach, doctor, etc.). If the documentation or reason for missing an exam is poor, the student can count on receiving a significantly more difficult exam, if one is given at all! Do ask about a makeup exam if you have a good reason to miss an exam, as it is understood that illnesses and other complications do happen. Students participating in sports teams are required to notify the instructor in advance of games that might conflict with class.

Homework, quizzes, and exams will ask critical thinking questions that require careful analysis, mathematical explanation, and meaningful conclusions. For example, you might be asked to find a formula for the derivative of a certain function and then explain what this tells you about the graph of the function. You would have to decide which derivative rule or rules should be used, carry these out in a logical manner using good mathematical notation, and then interpret the result by explaining what you can learn about the graph of this function by looking at its derivative.

Intellectual honesty is important at Saint Vincent College. Attempts to pass off the work of another as one's own, or group work as one's individual work, will result in action appropriate to the seriousness of the situation. All cases of apparent intellectual dishonesty are referred to the college administration. If the administration does not say what to do about the grades in a case where plagiarism occurred, the first offense will involve a significant grade penalty (such as a grade of zero on the quiz or exam), while a second offense may result in failure of the course. In this course, students are expected to do entirely their own work on WeBWorK, exams, and quizzes. Other types of homework can be done together unless explicitly stated otherwise. Some students learn better when working mostly alone. Others do better when working together. However, never simply copy someone else's work as that does little to help you to learn the material. Remember that you are responsible for knowing how to solve the homework problems and that you will have to face the test and quiz questions on your own. Be sure to read the Regulations section of the College Bulletin (which covers such things as grading, academic honesty, etc.) and the Student Handbook (which covers academic honesty, classroom etiquette, etc.).

Students with disabilities who may be eligible for academic accommodations and support services should please contact the Associate Dean of Studies, Mrs. Sandy Quinlivan, by phone (724-805-2371), email ( or by appointment (Academic Affairs-Headmaster Hall). Reasonable accommodations do not alter the essential elements of any course, program or activity.

If the instructor needs to cancel class, every effort will be made to send an email message to students' Saint Vincent email accounts.

Maintained by: Br. David Carlson
Last updated: August 15, 2014