Colorado State University, Pueblo
Math 121 — College Algebra, Section 12
Fall 2011

Here is a shortcut to the course schedule/homework page.

Class meets: MTWF 10-10:50pm in PM 103      Group Learning Program: MW 11-11:50pm in PM 132A
Instructor: Jonathan Poritz     Office: PM 248 E-mail:
  Phone: 549-2044 (office — any time); 357-MATH (personal; please use sparingly)
  Office Hours: M-F 9-9:50am or by appointment (or walk-in!)

Prerequisites: A satisfactory grade on a placement exam and either Math 099, two years of high school algebra, or the equivalent.

Catalog Description: Solutions of algebraic equations, graphs of rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, systems of equations, matrices, and determinants.

Text: College Algebra Essentials, 9th Edition, by Michael Sullivan. You are expected to be reading the textbook sections as we cover them in class. This is partly so that you can see a different exposition of the material from what is presented in class. In addition, there may well be a result or example which we simply don't have time to talk about in class which is given in the textbook — and it will be assumed you have seen this material in your reading! To reward careful reading of the textbook, the weekly class quizzes will (usually) be taken directly from an example worked out in one of the book's sections covered that week.

On-line homework: Students must acquire access to the MyMathLab on-line homework system, which is then accessed through To connect to this course, use poritz43233 as the Course ID. You will be withdrawn from the course if you have not registered with MyMathLab by Friday, August 26th at 8am; notification of this will be made to your university e-mail address. Here is a sheet which should help with the registration process.
Since you can repeat the on-line homework as many times as you like, there is no reason not to answer every problem correctly. Therefore, in order to demonstrate mastery of the material, you will be expected to score at least an 80% on every homework set. To enforce this expectation, you must score at least 80% on every on-line HW and exam review due before any hour exam (including the final) to be eligible to take that exam. See the policy sheet for more details.

Academic integrity: Mathematics is more effectively and easily learned — and more fun — when you work with others. However, all work you turn in must be your own, and any form of cheating is grounds for an immediate F in the course for all involved parties.

Attendance: Regular attendance is a key to success -- every class you miss will harm your understanding of the topics we cover no only that day, but every other day of the term as well. For this reason, attendance will be taken each class period.

Calculators: A Texas Instruments graphing calculator like the TI-84 Plus is required. Calculators like the TI-89 or TI-Nspire CAS that can do symbolic calculations are not allowed. The department has a calculator rental program. Please contact Mary Sandoval in PM 216 for more information.

Students with disabilities: This University abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulates that no student shall be denied the benefits of education "solely by reason of a handicap." If you have a documented disability that may impact your work in this class for which you may require accommodations, please see the Disability Resource Coordinator as soon as possible to arrange accommodations. In order to receive accomodations, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to: the Disability Resource Office, which is located in the Library and Academic Resource Center, Suite 169.

Group Learning Program: The Mathematics Department at CSU-Pueblo offers the Group Learning Program as a means of supporting student success in College Algebra. Attendance is mandatory. Students will not be allowed to take their course final after 4 unexcused absences from the Group Learning Sessions.
There will be worksheets in each GLP session which will count towards your course grade.

Homework: Mathematics at this level is a kind of practical (although purely mental) skill, not unlike a musical or sports skill — and, like for those other skills, one must practise to build the skill. In short, doing problems is the only way truly to master this material (in fact, the only way to pass). To this end, there will be homework sets assigned for every section we cover, through the website. You will need the access code that came with the Student Access Kit you purchased at the bookstore in order this important (and fun! the system provides you with instant feedback and help as you do the HW sets!) part of the course.

Quizzes: Most (probably all) Fridays, during weeks in which there is no hour exam, there will be a short (10-15 minute) quiz at the end of class. These will be closed book, but calculators will (usually) be allowed. A missed quiz will receive a grade of 0 unless a satisfactory explanation (with documentation) is provided before the date of the quiz in question. The content of the quiz will almost always be identical to an example (or examples) from that week's textbook sections — so don't forget to read (carefully!) the book.
Your lowest quiz score will be dropped.

Exams: We will have three in-class hour exams: on Friday, September 16, covering Chapter 1 and §§2.1–2.4; on Friday, October 14, covering Chapters 2 and 3; and on Friday, November 11, covering Chapters 4 and 5. A missed exam will receive a grade of 0 unless a satisfactory explanation (with documentation) is provided before the date of the exam in question. There will be a comprehensive final exam on Tuesday, December 6, from 3:30-5:50pm in a room to be announced — please note, this is not the final exam period written in the Catalog corresponding to our class meeting times.
There will be a review for each of the exams, which we will discuss in the class before that exam.

Writing mathematics is an important skill which we will not get a chance to practice with the on-line homework. It is therefore particularly important that you try to write clear and complete solutions on GLP worksheets, quizzes, and exams. In particular, you will have the opportunity to receive (generous) partial credit in such written work only if you show your steps in a comprehensible way.

Grades: Your total homework points will be scaled to be out of 100. So also will be the total quiz points. Each hour exam during the term will be graded out of 100, while the final will be out of 200. The GLP worksheets will count as 50 points. This means that the maximum possible course points are then 750. Letter grades will then be calculated in a way no more strict than the traditional "90-100% is an A, 80-90% a B, etc." system, based on your total points. (Note that by Math Department policy, there will be no +'s or -'s on final course grades.)

Contact outside class: Over the years I have been teaching, I have noticed that the students who come to see me outside class are very often the ones who do well in my classes. Now correlation is not causation, but why not put yourself in the right statistical group and drop in sometime? I am always in my office, PM 248, during official office hours. If you want to talk to me privately and/or cannot make those times, please mention it to me in class or by e-mail, and we can find another time. Please feel free to contact me for help also by e-mail at, to which I will try to respond quite quickly (always within the day, often much more quickly); be aware, however, that it is hard to do complex mathematics by e-mail, so if the issue you raise in an e-mail is too hard for me to answer in that form, it may well be better if we meet before the next class, or even talk on the telephone (in which case, include in your e-mail a number where I can reach you).

A request about e-mail: E-mail is a great way to keep in touch with me, but since I tell all my students that, I get a lot of e-mail. So to help me stay organized, please put your full name and the course name or number in the subject line of all messages to me. Also, if you are writing me for help on a particular problem, please state the complete problem in your e-mail.

The Math Learning Center offers registered CSU-Pueblo students free tutoring in math classes from Elementary Algebra to Calculus and Statistics. It is staffed by a Director and student tutors. Located in the Physics and Mathematics buliding, PM 132, it is open this fall semester from August 22 until December 9, 2011. No appointment is necessary, just walk in and ask for help. The hours of operation are posted in the Center and on

Gen Ed Tutoring Math/Science Center: The Gen Ed Tutoring Center offers one-on-one tutoring on a walk-in basis as well as by appointment for all developmental and general education mathematics courses. It is located in room 251 of the Library and Academic Resources Center (LARC) and is available Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm. For more information, contact Mike Giannetto at 719-549-2290,


Jonathan Poritz (