MA109 Fall 2018 - College Algebra

Outdated (Past semester)

This the syllabus for a past semester. If you are a current MA109 student, this page has nothing for you. It is only here for historical purposes.

Course and instructor demographics

MA 109 is a 3 credit hour class taught by several instructors in several sections. For office hours, meeting times, and contact information, please see the tables below.


It is very important to keep up with your class and to inform your instructor as early as possible of any problems or concerns. Many instructors have multiple hundreds of students, and so there may be delays or special requirements needed to handle what may appear to be simple problems. On the other hand our instructors are highly trained professionals and may be able to help you solve what seem like insurmountable challenges. In either case, the more time the instructor has to consider your case, the more likely you are to have a good result.

Instructors hold drop-in office hours at the times and places listed below. You can stop by to ask questions about the course material or structure. Most instructors also are available in the Mathskeller where you can ask them (or any other instructor present) for help in the course.

InstructorEmailOffice LocationOffice PhoneOffice HoursMathskeller hours
Justin Barhite POT 706 (859) 257-6805 M: 2-3pm TR: 1-2pm
Jonathan Clark POT 757 TR: 12:15-1pm MWF: 10:30-11:30am
Kathy Effinger POT 957 TuTh: 11-12pm
Amber Holmes POT 827 MWF: 10-12 pm,
TR: 12:30-2pm
M: 1-2pm
Nicholas Nguyen POT 705 MWF: 10:30-11:45am T: 9-10am
Charlene Norman POT 957
Katherine Paullin POT 729 (859) 257-8836 MWF: 1-2pm
Jack Schmidt POT 761 (859) 257-1429 MWF: 2-3pm
Jason Terry POT 969 MTWRF: 2-3pm
Julianne Vega POT 722 (859) 257-6807 T: 3:15-4:15, W: 1-2pm M: 1-2pm


Active, engaged class participation is required in all sections. Make sure you know when and where your class meets and make sure to bring appropriate materials to class (a way to view the textbook, a place to take notes, any calculator you want to practice using). Your active, engaged class participation is a major component of your final grade.

The rooms for your exams are also listed (but please check back for possible room changes):

SectionInstructorRoomTimeExam 1-3 roomFinal room
001 Amber Holmes CB 212 MWF 8:00am–8:50am CB 106 CB 106
002 Amber Holmes CB 212 MWF 9:00am–9:50am CB 106 CB 106
003 Katherine Paullin CB 212 MWF 10:00am–10:50am CB 118 CB 118
004 Katherine Paullin CB 212 MWF 11:00am–11:50am CB 118 CB 118
005 Jonathan Clark CP 222 MWF 12:00pm–12:50pm CB 102 CB 102
006 Jonathan Clark CP 222 MWF 1:00pm–1:50pm CB 114 CB 114
007 Nicholas Nguyen CB 212 MWF 2:00pm–2:50pm CB 110 CB 110
008 Jack Schmidt CB 214 TuTh 8:00am–9:15am CP 139 MEH
009 Jack Schmidt CB 214 TuTh 9:30am–10:45am CP 139 MEH
010 Kathy Effinger CB 212 TuTh 9:30am–10:45am BS 107 KAS 213
011 Jonathan Clark CB 214 TuTh 11:00am–12:15pm CB 122 CB 122
012 Charlene Norman CB 212 TuTh 11:00am–12:15pm BS 116 FB 200
013 Jack Schmidt CB 214 TuTh 12:30pm–1:45pm CP 153 MEH
014 Jason Terry CB 212 TuTh 12:30pm–1:45pm BS 107 KAS 213
015 Julianne Vega CB 214 TuTh 2:00pm–3:15pm CP 155 MDS 220
016 Justin Barhite CB 341 TuTh 9:30am–10:45am CP 155 MEH
017 Justin Barhite CB 341 TuTh 11:00am–12:15pm CP 153 MEH

Course description

College Algebra covers selected topics in algebra, such as a review of grade school algebra, quadratic formula, systems of linear equations, introduction to functions and graphing. Please see this more detailed schedule. In particular, we will cover solving equations (linear, quadratic, power, radical, and absolute value equations, as well as equations mentioning the unknown only once), graphing on the Cartesian coordinate system (with special emphasis on lines, their slope, perpendicular and parallel lines), solving systems of equations (with substitution and elimination, both linear and non-linear), using technology (such as graphing calculators and numerical root finders), solving applied problems, inequalities, and general functions, with special emphasis on exponential, logarithmic, polynomial, and rational functions.

Course Bulletin

The 2017-2018 Bulletin describes this 3 credit hour course as

Selected topics in algebra. Develops manipulative algebraic skills and mathematical reasoning required for further study in mathematics and use in mathematical modelling. Includes brief review of basic algebra, quadratic formula, systems of linear equations, introduction to functions and graphing, with applications. This course is not available for credit to persons who have received credit in any mathematics course of a higher number with the exceptions of MA 111, 112, 123, 162, 201 and 202. Credit not available on the basis of special examination. Prereq: Two years of high school algebra and a Math ACT score of 21 or above or a Math SAT score of 510 or above; or UK 096; or appropriate MathIndex; or grade of B or better in MA 111. Math placement test recommended.

Student learning outcomes and course goals

The goal of this course is to prepare you to use the basic tools of algebra to manipulate both known and unknown numerical quantities. By succeeding in this course, you should be prepared to study elementary calculus (as presented in MA 123) as well as being able to understand and work with mathematical models in your other course work.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Recognize reasonable answers based on number sense and the algebraic relations that must be satisfied by solutions.
  2. Recognize and operate with covariational and functional relationships between quantities
  3. Read and express those relationships as implicit equations, explicit (functional) equations, graphs, tables of values, and verbal descriptions
  4. Manipulate implicit and explicit equations to solve for a chosen variable, or recast a functional relationship in terms of a chosen independent quantity.
  5. Use algebraic techniques to solve applied and modelling problems in restricted settings appropriate for a general mathematics course
  6. Analyze and evaluate sample arguments and solutions for correctness and reasonableness
  7. Analyze limitations of models, especially in terms of piecewise functions and domain restrictions
  8. Use appropriate technology to understand and solve problems


Your final grade is a letter grade A, B, C, D, or E. It is computed from several components (as indicated in the table). Each exam is taken in the evening, and has a very strict absence and cheating policy (be careful not to get a zero on the exam). Homework is completed online and requires internet access. The instructor score will measure active, engaged, in-class participation. It may be based on pre-class online quizzes, in-class activities or quizzes, or post-class online quizzes. Once the semester is over, including the final exam, your total points can be compared against the grading cutoffs table to find the matching letter grade. Any curve will be decided after the final exam is graded, but is unlikely to be significant barring unforeseen circumstances. A typical grade distribution is 20% of students assigned an A, 25% B, 20% C, 10% D, 10% E, and an additional 15% withdrawing. Grade distributions may change from semester to semester, but this provides a rough indicator of the difficulty students as a whole have with the course. Please note that the option to retake this course are limited.

Grading components
100 20% Exam 1
100 20% Exam 2
100 20% Exam 3
100 20% Final Exam
60 12% Active Participation
40 8% Written Project
500 100% Total
Grading cutoffs
450 90.0% A
400 80.0% B
350 70.0% C
300 60.0% D
0 0.0% E

Mid-term grades will be posted in myUK by the deadline established in the Academic Calendar.

During final exams week there will be limited, scheduled opportunities to retake at most one of exam 1, 2, 3. The grade you make on the retake will be averaged with the original grade, in effect allowing you to earn half-credit back, but also allowing you to lose half-credit if you do worse on the retake than on the original. You must schedule the retake by filling out a form in canvas before Wed of 13th Week of Class.

Required course materials


The textbook College Algebra, by Jay Abramson and other contributors at OpenStax serves as an important reference work for the course. This textbook is available for free online, or printed for around $50 to $60.

Online submission of assignments

Students are required to submit assignments via the Canvas and WebWork websites.


Your active particpation grade may require clickers, index cards, or other materials whose cost is not expected to exceed $20. The way this is measured depends on which section you are in. You may want to see the submission guidelines for some details.

In the sections 001-014, you will need a “Reef Technologies iClicker subscription” for $15 per semester. They can be purchased from the UK bookstore, or directly from the phone app. If you don't have a device to view webpages on during class, then ask your instructor about other options. You'll need to register them on Canvas.

Students in the small sections, 015-017, do not need an iClicker. You may be asked to purchase 3x5 index cards or something similar (a dollar or two for the semester).

Lecture Notes

We will be using notes written for you as a complement/guide to the textbook in order to assist you throughout the course. We will also be using practice problems at the end of every set of notes that have been designed to get you practicing during lecture. These are available for free on our website (though you'd have to pay for printing if you wanted paper versions).

Lecture notes and worksheets
TextbookLecture NotesWorksheetSlides


Technology such as calculators can be very helpful for exploring mathematics. A simple ($10 to $30) calculator with powers and logs may be needed for some exam questions.

Using the calculator during a test for any reason other than performing the required calculations (for example, to recall a previously stored formula) will be considered cheating. You may use any graphing calculator that is allowed by ACT. Note that you will not be allowed to use the calculator on a cell phone, or any other communication device. Furthermore, you may not use any calculator that has a computer algebra system (CAS) or a QWERTY keyboard. In particular, you may not use the TI-Nspire CAS, any TI-89, any TI-92, the HP 48GII, any HP 40G, any HP 49G, any HP 50G, the Casio Algebra fx 2.0, the Casio ClassPad 300, the Casio ClassPad 330, or any Casio CFX-9970G.

A graphing calculator can be helpful for parts of the course. A standard choice is the TI-84 ($75 to $125). Most graphing calculators have the same basic functions, and you should be able to learn about your calculator by reading the manual. A free online graphing calculator such as Desmos may be easier and cheaper to use while still providing all the conceptual benefits, however it cannot be used on exams, so one should be familiar with whatever sort of calculator one decides to use. Exams require a scientific calculator (powers, e, log; TI-30 series, $10 to $30), or graphing calculator.

Course policies

There are a number of important policies that can have a dramatic effect on your understanding and final grade in this course. These policies are intended to be uniform and simple, but if you have not read over them, they may have unexpected consequences.

Important dates

See the Academic Calendar, the Common Hour Exam schedule, and the Final Exam schedule for Fall 2018.

Wednesday, August 22 First Day of Classes
Tuesday, August 28 Last Day to Add
Monday, September 3 Labor Day
(no classes)
Wednesday, September 12 Last Day to Drop
Wednesday, September 19 Exam 1 (7:30pm – 9:30pm)
Friday, October 5 1st Written Project Due
Wednesday, October 17 Exam 2 (7:30pm – 9:30pm)
Friday, October 19 Midterm grades
Friday, November 2 Last Day to Withdraw
Wednesday, November 14 Exam 3 (7:30pm – 9:30pm)
Wednesday, November 21 to Friday, November 23 Thanksgiving Break
(no classes)
Friday, November 30 2nd Written Project Due
Friday, December 7 Last Day of Classes
Wednesday, December 12 Final Exam (8:30pm - 10:30pm)


Active, engaged, in-class participation is mandatory and forms a major portion of your final grade. You should be ready to work when class begins (for example: seated, notes and pencil ready, attention to the front, quiet at 8:00am if the class starts at 8:00am). You should not pack up or leave until class is over (for example: you should still be working at 8:49am if the class ends at 8:50am). If you have special circumstances, please contact your instructor before class begins so that they can excuse late arrivals or early departures. Unexcused late arrivals or early departures may result in significant reduction in participation grade for each day on which they occur.

An absence can only be excused if the instructor is notified within a week of the absence. The choice to excuse the absence is with the instructor, though excuses will be granted (given timely notification) according to University Senate Rule namely (a) serious illness, (b) illness or death of a family member, (c) University related trips, (d) major religious holidays, (e) other reasons deemed reasonable by the instructor. In the case of (c) and (d) notification must be provided one week in advance. In all cases documentation may be requested to ensure the absence does meet policy. For (a) a University Health Services Tier 2 or Tier 3 excuse is required, or a similar note from a health care provider who will confirm that you are a patient and were seen on the indicated day. Documentation that cannot be verified may result in the absence not being excused.

Absences can affect three major types of grade, and the policies for how absences affect each grade differ: Homework extensions should be requested before the homework solutions are available. Homework is available many weeks in advance, so that absences of type (c) and (d) can usually be handled without recourse to a homework extension. Instructor score measures a continued commitment to engaged, active in-class participation. Consult your individual instructor for details on how this will be measured, and how excused absences affect this measurement. Absences for exams are quite serious. An unexcused exam absence results in 0 for the exam grade, which lowers your final grade by at least a letter grade. To allow for exceptional circumstances, there is a simple alternate exam sign-up available in your canvas course. We have a number of alternate times available to take each exam, and any request received before two weeks prior to the exam for one of those times will be automatically granted (excused). On the other hand last minute requests or requests that would require undue hardship are likely to be rejected (unexcused) or only given with a severe point penalty. Absences of type (a) and (b) should be reported within 24 hours of the exam to ensure that a reasonable accommodation can be found. Exam absences not reported within a week are automatically unexcused and result in a zero on the exam.

Submission of assignments

Homework must be submitted online at WebWork, in the appropriate course as accessed from Canvas. Each student is responsible for submitting the assignment in a way and time that the server will accept. Internet outages, different clocks, and other technical difficulties that occur after 5pm on the due date are at your own risk.

The homework due dates are listed in the course schedule. Homework assignments are always due at 11:59 pm. There will be many homework sets throughout the semester. You can see the homework assignment due dates on the class schedule. Note that a few of these assignments are due during Dead Week.

Exams must be taken at the specified times and locations, or an alternate exam must be approved by the instructor, using the form in canvas. You are expected to take the exam without notes, textbooks, online access, or communication with your peers. You may use a calculator approved for use on the ACT.

Active participation may require submission of online quizzes (also on WebWork) that may be due before class, during class, or after class. Sections 001-014 require the use of Reef Technologies iClicker which costs about $15 (and can be used on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop). Instructor score may also require taking a short in-class quiz at the beginning (“entrance slip”), middle (“pop quiz”), or end (“exit slip”). You may be expected to bring your own index card to turn in the quiz, especially in sections 015-017.

Two written projects will be submitted through Canvas (instructions will be posted on Canvas). The due dates are Friday, October 5 and Friday, November 30 and at 5pm. This project is a mandatory part of the class and fulfills Gen Ed requirements (UK Core Quantitative Foundations). Information about the project can be found here (1st) and here (2nd). These projects are worth 40 points in the calculation of your final grade. One point is deducted for every 6 hours the project is late.

Accommodations Due to Disability

Please notify your instructor in advance if you need accommodations due to disability. Exam accommodations require one week notice to get everything in place. Most accommodations can be worked out (in broad strokes) with the disability resource center. They will provide you with a letter for your instructor that should make finding accommodations easy. You should still check with your instructor that everything looks fine (and arrange a private meeting if details need to discussed).

Academic Honesty

All assignments, exams, quizzes, projects, and exercises completed by students for this class should be the product of the personal efforts of the individual(s) whose name(s) appear on the corresponding assignment. Cheating or plagiarism is a serious offense and will not be tolerated. Any potential cheating case will be thoroughly investigated, and could lead to failure in the course or even to expulsion from the university. See Student Rights and Responsibilities in the University Senate Rules (Sections 6.3.1 and 6.3.2) for information on cheating, plagiarism, and penalties. A summary of recent changes to rules on cheating can be found at the academic ombud website.

Classroom Behavior, Decorum, and Civility

Students are expected to be actively participating during class. Students are also expected not to distract others. If you arrive late, leave early, are distracted by your phone, or are otherwise not actively engaged with the class you may not receive credit for participating that day. If you are disrupting class, you may be asked to leave.

College Algebra is traditionally a very difficult class, and many of your classmates will be having a hard time adjusting both to the university and to the demands of the class. You are expected to treat your classmates with respect. It is reasonable to disagree, but you should express your disagreement respectfully. Personal attacks or statements denigrating another on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender expression, age, national/regional origin or other such irrelevant factors are considered a severe disruption. Harassment will not be tolerated.

Non-Discrimination Statement and Title IX Information

The University of Kentucky faculty are committed to supporting students and upholding the University's non-discrimination policy.

Discrimination is prohibited at UK. If you experience an incident of discrimination we encourage you to report it to Institutional Equity & Equal Opportunity (IEEO) Office, 13 Main Building, (859) 257-8927.

Acts of Sex- and Gender-Based Discrimination or Interpersonal Violence: If you experience an incident of sex- or gender-based discrimination or interpersonal violence, we encourage you to report it. While you may talk to a faculty member or TA/RA/GA, understand that as a "Responsible Employee" of the University these individuals MUST report any acts of violence (including verbal bullying and sexual harassment) to the University's Title IX Coordinator in the IEEO Office. If you would like to speak with someone who may be able to afford you confidentiality, the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) program and Bias Incident Support Services (Frazee Hall – Lower Level), the Counseling Center (106 Frazee Hall), and University Health Services are confidential resources on campus.

Dead week

Homework score and instructor score continue as usual. Homework is due and the typical measures of in-class participation will be present. No papers or exams will be given during dead week.

Limited course repeats

University Senate rule 4.3.3 allows department chairs to prevent a student from registering in a course for a third time, unless a student has withdrawn for urgent, non-academic reasons. The Department of Mathematics enforces this rule for students attempting a fourth registration in MA 109, 110, 113 and 137.

Course Schedule

The following is a tentative course schedule. The homework assignments correspond to the online textbook.

Week #SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1 Aug 19 Aug 20 Aug 21 Aug 22
First Day of Classes
Syllabus, 2.1 Cartesian Coordinates and Graphs
Aug 23 Aug 24
2.1 Cartesian Coordinates and Graphs
Aug 25
2 Aug 26 Aug 27
2.2 Linear Equations
Aug 28
Last Day to Add
Section 2.1
Aug 29
2.3 Models and Applications
Aug 30 Aug 31
3.1 Function notation
Section 2.2
Sep 1
3 Sep 2 Sep 3
Labor Day
(no classes)
Sep 4
Section 2.3
Sep 5
3.1 Function notation
Sep 6 Sep 7
3.3 Average rate of change
Section 3.1
Sep 8
4 Sep 9 Sep 10
3.2 Domain and range
Sep 11
Section 3.3
Sep 12
Last Day to Drop
2.7 Linear inequalities
Sep 13 Sep 14
4.1 Linear functions
Section 2.7
Section 3.2
Sep 15
5 Sep 16 Sep 17
Review / Catchup
Sep 18
Section 4.1 (for Exam 1)
Sep 19
Exam 1 (7:30pm – 9:30pm)
Sep 20 Sep 21
4.1 Linear functions
Section 4.1
Sep 22
6 Sep 23 Sep 24
4.2 Linear models
Sep 25
Section 4.2
Sep 26
4.3 Best linear-fit
Sep 27 Sep 28
1st Written Project Draft
Section 4.3
Sep 29
7 Sep 30 Oct 1
3.6 Absolute value functions
Oct 2
Section 3.6
Oct 3
3.5 Graph transformations
Oct 4 Oct 5
1st Written Project Due
3.4 Function composition
Section 3.5
Oct 6
8 Oct 7 Oct 8
3.7 Functional inverses
Oct 9
Section 3.4
Section 3.7
Oct 10
5.1 Polynomial and rational functions
Oct 11 Oct 12
2.5 Quadratic equations
Section 5.1
Oct 13
9 Oct 14 Oct 15
Review / Catchup
Oct 16
Section 2.5
Oct 17
Exam 2 (7:30pm – 9:30pm)
Oct 18 Oct 19
Midterm grades
5.2 Power functions and polynomial functions
Oct 20
10 Oct 21 Oct 22
5.3 Graphs of polynomials
Oct 23
Section 5.2
Oct 24
5.6 Rational functions
Oct 25 Oct 26
5.3/5.6 Graphs of rational functions
Section 5.3
Oct 27
11 Oct 28 Oct 29
5.7 Inverse and radical functions
Oct 30
Section 5.6
Oct 31
5.8 Proportionality
Nov 1 Nov 2
Last Day to Withdraw
6.1 Exponential functions
Section 5.7
Nov 3
12 Nov 4 Nov 5
6.2 Graphs of exponentials
Nov 6
Section 6.1
Nov 7
6.1/6.2 Graphs of exponentials
Nov 8 Nov 9
6.3 Logarithmic functions
Section 6.2
Nov 10
13 Nov 11 Nov 12
Review / Catchup
Nov 13
Section 6.3 For Exam 3
Nov 14
Exam 3 (7:30pm – 9:30pm)
Nov 15 Nov 16
6.4 Graphs of logarithms
Section 6.3
Nov 17
14 Nov 18 Nov 19
6.5 Log properties
Nov 20
Section 6.4
Nov 21
Thanksgiving Break
(no classes)
Nov 22
Thanksgiving Break
(no classes)
Nov 23
Thanksgiving Break
(no classes)
Nov 24
15 Nov 25 Nov 26
6.6 Exponential and logarithmic equations
Nov 27
Section 6.5
Nov 28
6.7 Exponential and logarithmic models
Nov 29 Nov 30
2nd Written Project Due
Chapter 6 / Written Project
Section 6.6
Dec 1
16 Dec 2 Dec 3
7.1 Linear systems in 2 variables
Dec 4
Section 6.7
Dec 5
Dec 6 Dec 7
Last Day of Classes
Section 7.1
Dec 8
17 Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec 12
Final Exam (8:30pm - 10:30pm)
Dec 13 Dec 14 Dec 15

Study help

The textbook and your instructor's office hours are invaluable sources of information. You may also find the following useful for studying:

Practice exams

Warning: The order of topics has changed significantly, so old exams may not be as useful. They are available on request, but are not recommended for current students.

Services in The Mathskeller and The Study

The Mathskeller is located in CB 063 in the basement of the classroom building. Many instructors from the Department of Mathematics will hold office hours in the Mathskeller. In addition, limited drop-in tutoring is available. The Mathskeller is open from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday (except academic holidays) during the semester. Additional information is available at

The Peer Tutoring Program offers FREE drop-in tutoring for many University of Kentucky (UK) core courses. Offering proactive assistance, the goal of the Peer Tutoring Program is to enhance students' academic experience as early and as often as possible. The Peer Tutoring Program provides a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for students to drop in, as they wish, to seek help on homework or exam prep, or simply to study within a group environment. Peer Tutors in The Study Central and The Study North are nationally certified, well-trained undergraduate students who have successfully completed the course for which they tutor at UK. This makes them a great resource for questions about a professor or course format in addition to questions pertaining to the subject.

Peer tutoring is offered in two locations: The Study Central, on the bottom floor of Donovan Hall (entrance is catty corner from K-Lair) on central campus, and The Study North, on the first floor of Jewel Hall (residence hall across from the Student Center) on north campus.