MCS 118: Calculus with Pre-calculus Review I (Fall 2013)

Course Information


In MCS 118, we will study polynomial and power functions. In particular, we will learn how to find limits, calculate instantaneous rates of change, and compute the area bounded by graphs of these functions. We will use these ideas to model various real world problems. At the same time, we will review the algebra and pre-calculus skills that are useful in understanding this material.

In MCS 119, we will continue our study of calculus by extending the ideas from MCS 118 to exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions. Students who complete both MCS118 and MCS119 may use MCS119 to substitute for MCS121.

Course Objectives

  • to model "real world" problems
  • to use algebra and calculus tools to solve these problems
  • to interpret solutions of algebra and calculus problems
  • to improve your algebra skills, and your understanding of fractions, functions and inverse functions
  • to understand the basics of calculus, using algebraic functions


Two years of high school mathematics beyond plane geometry, including trigonometry.


We will use Calculus I with Precalculus, 2nd Edition by Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards. Be sure you have the second edition, not the third. (The third edition is considerably more expensive.)


You should have a graphing calculator available for use in class and on exams. If you are buying a new one, the MCS department encourages the use of Texas Instruments calculators, in particular the TI86, or the TI89 (though the use of some of the TI89 features may be restricted, so that I will want you to use another calculator on quizzes and tests). If you have the standard version of any of these calculators there is no need to purchase a new calculator. If you have another brand of calculator please see me before purchasing a new one as you may be able to continue using it. A limited number of calculators are available in the Diversity Center for students who have financial difficulties buying one.

Class Web Site

All course materials will be available through the class web pages. The main URL for this course is


Classes will be used for lectures, problem solving, discussions, and other fun activities. You should prepare for classes by doing the reading beforehand (reading assignments are posted on the Web), thinking about the problems in the text, and formulating questions of your own. You should also participate as much as possible in class. Class meetings are not intended to be a complete encapsulation of the course material. You will be responsible for learning some of the material on your own.

Attendance, both physical and mental, is required.

Should you need to miss a class for any reason, you are still responsible for the material covered in that class. This means that you will need to make sure that you understand the reading for that day, that you should ask a friend for the notes from that day, and make sure that you understand what was covered. You may not make up any in-class work, unless you have accommodations for a disability (see below). If there is a homework assignment due that day, you should be sure to have a friend hand it in or put it in my departmental mailbox (in Olin 324). You do not need to tell me why you missed a class unless there is a compelling reason for me to know.

Should you miss more than four classes, no matter what the reason, I reserve the right to make your class participation grade a 0.

Texting (reading or sending messages) in class is prohibited.

If you are expecting an urgent call or text message, you should notify me before class. When you get the call, you should quietly leave class and deal with it in the hall. If you are not expecting an urgent call, your cell phone should be turned off and stored in your backpack.


You will need to read a section of the book and do problems for each day that we have class.

Homework problems are designed to help you learn the material we cover in class and in the reading. You should read the material and attempt the problems before coming to class. You should finish the problems after class. You may work with other students on these problems; but be sure to give credit. Once or twice a week, you will hand in your solutions to the problems you did. These should be neatly written on standard sized paper, and with all of the pages stapled together. The sections and problem numbers should be clearly labeled. Once you've completed the homework, fill out a homework reflection sheet and then staple all of your solutions together with the homework reflection sheet on top. The grader will only grade a few sample problems.

On the day that homework problems are due, you will be asked to place your work in a homework folder. After class, I place the folder outside my office door for the grader. Any homework that is not in this folder when the grader gets it is considered late. Late homework will be accepted as long as I get it before my grader hands back the graded assignments. (Alternatively, you can put it in the folder for late homework that is outside my office door.) In that case, the homework will be graded but you will lose 30% of the points on that assignment.

Quizzes and Exams

We will have four quizzes, one mid-semester exam, and and a final exam. The mid-semester exam will be given in the evening, on Tuesday, Oct. 15, from 5:00 -7:00 or from 7:00 - 9:00. The final is scheduled for . Be sure to make appropriate travel plans.

Course grade

Your grade is a measure of your learning and growth in the course, rather than a set of points to be “earned” or “lost.” Viewed this way, a grade shows the extent to which you have mastered and can communicate important concepts and ideas. Not all work is graded – you do many things in a course that contribute to your learning: reading, writing, revising, thinking, talking, and listening. It is useful to think of work, then, as the set of activities that contribute to learning. Graded work is that subset of activities where you show how well you have learned to reason mathematically and how well you can communicate your reasoning to others.

The graded course components will contribute to your grade in the following proportion:

Class participation 5%
Homework problems 15%
Quizzes 30%
Mid-term exam 20%
Final exam 30%

Letter grades are assigned using the following table.

mastery of the material with developed insight
87 -89.9
80 -82.9
mastery with limited insight
73 -76.9
basic knowledge with limited mastery
60- 66.9
minimal to unacceptable performance

Disability Services

Gustavus Adolphus College is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs. If you have a documented disability (or you think you may have a disability of any nature) and, as a result, need reasonable academic accommodation to participate in class, take tests or benefit from the College's services, then you should speak with the Disability Services Coordinator, for a confidential discussion of your needs and appropriate plans. Course requirements cannot be waived, but reasonable accommodations may be provided based on disability documentation and course outcomes. Accommodations cannot be made retroactively; therefore, to maximize your academic success at Gustavus, please contact Disability Services as early as possible. Disability Services is located in the Advising and Counseling Center.

Disability Services Coordinator Laurie Bickett (6286) can provide further information.

Academic Integrity

You are expected to to adhere to the highest standards of academic honesty, to uphold the Gustavus Honor Code and to abide by the Academic Honesty Policy. A copy of the honor code can be found in the Academic Bulletin and a copy of the academic honesty policy can be found in the Academic Polices section of the Gustavus Guide.

On homework problems, I encourage you to discuss problems and their solutions with each other. However, each of you should first make a real effort to solve each problem by yourself.

On quizzes and tests, you are expected to work completely by yourself, and to sign the honor pledge on each of these assignments. The first violation of this policy will result in a 0 on that assignment and notification of the Dean of Faculty. Further violations will result in failing the course.

Help for Students Whose First Language is not English

Support for English Language Learners and Multilingual students is available through the Academic Support Center and the Multilingual/English Language Learner Academic Support Specialist, Laura Lindell (x7197). She can meet individually with students for tutoring in writing, consulting about academic tasks and helping students connect with the College’s support systems. When requested, she can consult with faculty regarding effective classroom strategies for ELL and multilingual students. Laura can provide students with a letter to a professor that explains and supports appropriate academic arrangements (e.g. additional time on tests, additional revisions for papers). Professors make decisions based on those recommendations at their own discretion. In addition, ELL and multilingual students can seek help from peer tutors in the Writing Center.