Algebra for Calculus

Professor Hlas
hlascs (@)
Drop-in times

Course Information

Section 012: MTWTh 1-1:50 (HHH 231)
Section 013: MTWTh 4-4:50 (HHH 301)

This course is designed for students pursuing degree programs that require calculus. Topics covered include: algebraic concepts, techniques, and applications including polynomial and rational expressions, linear and quadratic equations, complex numbers, inequalities, absolute value, functions and graphs, exponential and logarithmic functions, systems of equations and inequalities, and zeros of polynomials.

Course objectives will be achieved by:

  1. Group work -- Working in groups provides insight to mathematical problems and different ways of thinking than your own. Think of your group as a mini-classroom. How can you guide group members to an answer without showing them how to solve it?
  2. Conceptual understanding -- Before we can become proficient, we must first understand why the mathematics works, which will aid in the remembering of important mathematical procedures.
  3. Procedural fluency -- Improvement of algebraic skills will be necessary in order to focus on upper-levels of mathematics. This will be done by focusing on increasingly faster and more efficient techniques.

This course meets the following Liberal Education Learning Goals: creative and critical thinking, and effective communication.

More course information is available on Canvas.

Required Materials

Connally, E., Hughes-Hallett, D., Gleason, A.M. et al. (2007). Functions modeling change: A preparation for calculus,third edition. John Wiley & Sons. (ISBN: 978-0-471-79303-8)


Graphing calculator (i.e., TI-84). Calculators with computer algebra systems (e.g., TI-89 and TI-92) and cell phones will not be allowed on exams.

Math Lab - free mathematics help (


In this course, we expect you to master the material at a variety of levels: basic skills, applications, and conceptual understanding. The homework assignments will focus on mastery of basic skills. Quizzes and projects will test your conceptual understanding and your ability to apply what you have learned. Exams will test all three: skills, applications, and concepts.

In order to maximize your scores, it is important to clearly and accurately show your mathematical thinking when working on problems. If any concerns arise regarding grading, please contact the instructor.

Grading scale (by percentage):
A ≥ 92.5; A- ≥ 90; B+ ≥ 87.5; B ≥ 82.5; B- ≥ 80; C+ ≥ 77.5; C ≥ 72.5; C- ≥ 70; D ≥ 60; F ≥ 0

Final Exam (20%)

This course uses a comprehensive, common final with the other sections. Other details have not yet been finalized with these sections. Remember that university policy does not allow students to take an examination prior to its scheduled time, so plan accordingly.

Exams (30%)

"To assess conceptual knowledge, researchers often use novel tasks … Because children do not already know a procedure for solving the task, they must rely on their knowledge of relevant concepts to generate methods for solving the problems." (Rittle-Johnson, Seigler, Alibali, 2001, p. 347). Assessments are a part of the learning experience so will require mastery of class material and will require the ability to apply class material to new situations.

There will be three in-class exams. All exams will be comprehensive, but will focus on more recent material. For each exam, one side of an 8.5x11 piece of paper is allowed for notes. These notes must be handwritten and turned in with your exam. Calculators will be allowed on all exams, but calculator work will not be accepted for credit. Exams will be weighted 5%, 10%, and 15% for the lowest to highest scores, respectively.

Group quizzes (20%)

During most weeks a group quiz will be given. Only one quiz per group will be scored with each group member receiving the same score. It is expected that all group members contribute to quiz responses and that all answers are fully explained.

MapleTA homework (20%)

MapleTA is a computer software that creates unique mathematics questions and can evaluate correct answers. Most MapleTA homework assignments will have a week for completion and be worth 10 points. Assignments may be retaken as many times as necessary to get a desired scored. Only the best score will be recorded.

Best score (10%)

The highest score (exam 1-3, final exam, quiz, or homework) will be weighted an extra 10% to allow for individual differences between students.

Suggested homework (0%)

After each class, suggested book problems will be posted on canvas. These problems will not be graded, but will be the basis for class discussion and weekly quizzes.

Fine print

Email is the best way to reach me. I typically respond within 24 hours, but do not check email in the evenings or on Saturdays due to family commitments.

Attendance A record of attendance is required by the University to maintain accurate class rosters. Attendance is not graded but poor attendance may impact participation in group activities.

Absences If you are absent, please check the course schedule then meet with me (drop-in hours, Zoom, or email) so I can make sure you are caught up. Authorized absences (school functions, emergencies or illness) may be made up for full credit. Other absences may be completed early for full credit, or late for 90% credit. Late work is expected to be completed within two weeks of the original due date or by the last day of classes, whichever occurs first.

Entry-level switching The Department of Mathematics allows students within entry-level mathematics courses (i.e., 010, 020, 104, 109, 112, 114, or 246) to move up to a higher numbered course during the first two weeks of a semester or move down during the first three weeks. Please contact the instructor for more details.


Student Accommodations Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations should contact the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office in Centennial Hall 2106 at the beginning of the semester.

Academic Integrity Any academic misconduct in this course will be submitted to the Dean of Students.

Mandatory Reporter As a Wisconsin State employee, the instructor is obligated to report any crimes to the Dean of Students, including claims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. The Dean of Students office may reach out to you to offer resources and support.

Community As members of this class we are members of a learning community that values all people with all backgrounds. Please remember that our words and actions affect everyone within our community and remember a little positivity can go a long way.