Friday, December 18, 2015

Frequently asked questions about Math 129

Q. What is Math 129?

A. Math 129 is an accelerated one-semester course that covers the entire algebra curriculum through the level of intermediate algebra. It contains the entire course content of Math 100 (Elementary Algebra) and Math 120 (Intermediate Algebra) and satisfies the prerequisite for any course with an intermediate algebra prerequisite.

Q. Who should take Math 129?

A. Math 129 is designed for exceptionally well-prepared students who can commit to two hours of math in class, five days a week, for an entire sixteen-week semester (plus many additional hours of work outside of class). Successful completion of Math 129 moves you rapidly through the math curriculum and accelerates your access to all of the courses that require algebra. Math 129 is also a good choice for students who previously did well in algebra but are re-entry students who have been away from school for several years and need a comprehensive algebra review.

Q. What is the format of Math 129?

A. Math 129 is a lecture course that meets Monday through Friday from 9:00 till 10:50 (with a 10-minute break). Many in-class quizzes are given; most of them are individual but a few are done as group work. Exams occur approximately every two weeks. Math 129 is not offered in an on-line or hybrid format.

Q. What is the most common problem that Math 129 students run into?

A. The time commitment. The class time (ten hours every week) is just the tip of the iceberg. Math 129 is really two courses in one semester, so expect to double your usual out-of-class study time and homework time. A common mistake is to treat Math 129 like an ordinary single course. It’s not.

Q. Is on-line homework or testing required?

A. Depending on the instructor, on-line homework could be required. However, the instructor assigned to teach Math 129 during the 2015-2016 school year does not require on-line homework. Homework is assigned from the textbook and collected on exam days. All exams are handwritten exams (no multiple choice tests and no Scantrons) and grading is based on mathematical accuracy, completeness, and the correct use of notation.

Q. What textbook is used for Math 129? Is it required?

A. The current textbook is Elayn Martin-Gay’s Beginning and Intermediate Algebra, 5th edition. The book is required and should be brought to class every day. The course will cover the entire book.

Q. What is the grading policy for Math 129?

A. Most of your grade is determined by the exams. Seven chapter tests are given (with the lowest score dropped), as is a comprehensive final exam (which is never dropped). The chapter tests are 70% of your grade, the final is 15% of your grade, and the homework and quizzes together constitute the remaining 15%.

Q. Is attendance mandatory?

A. Yes. Skipping class is the best way to fall behind and earn a low (or even failing) grade. Reasonable accommodation will be made for emergencies, but students are expected to make their best effort to attend every day. In keeping with Los Rios policy, students will be dropped for excessive absenteeism.

Q. Can students with learning disabilities take Math 129?

A. A good-faith effort is always made to provide reasonable accommodation. However, students who need to work slowly to maintain their accuracy should carefully take into account the challenges of an accelerated course. Time-and-a-half on exams is not difficult to provide, but Math 129 also includes dozens of short in-class quizzes that are immediately followed by demonstrations of their solutions; there is no satisfactory way to provide extra time on such quizzes.

Q. Is extra credit available?

A. Short answer: no. Longer answer: A few (but not many) exams or quizzes will offer optional problems that earn extra points for students who successfully solve them, but Math 129 is not a class where students can compensate for bad exam scores with projects or other alternative assignments.

Q. Is Math 129 offered during summer session?

A. Please tell me you’re kidding!