A student’s job, in the Precalculus Program, is to learn the material in their courses and demonstrate their competence on Unit and Final Exams. Our job is to help the student do their job. No one expects students to learn the content of a course all by themselves! We provide many resources to help students learn. The most successful students know what these resources are and use them effectively.
Every Precalculus course is organized around a set of learning objectives. Objectives describe the skills and facts students are expected to learn and tells them what they’ll be asked to do on the Unit Exams. The Learning Resources described in this section are keyed to those objectives.
As students read about the Learning Resources in the Precalculus Program, they should ask themselves how they like to learn. Do they like to work alone or do they like to interact with others? Do they prefer to read a text, watch as someone works a problem, or work the problem themselves and ask a lot of questions? Students should keep the answers to these questions in mind as they read and try to identify the learning resources that best fit the way they learn. Then use these resources regularly.
Online Course Materials and e-Text
The online e-text contains the course objectives for each unit and provides printable PDF files of lecture notes. There are many additional learning resources contained within the online materials, including video lectures, practice problems, Required Assignments, and Review Exams. The “My Status” link gives students access to the course grading scale and their current point total.
Students registered for Precalculus Course will have automatic access to the e-text without purchasing a physical copy or access code from the CSU Bookstore. Once the drop date passes (Registration Deadline Dates), the CSU Bookstore will charge the student’s account the cost of the e-text. The e-text grants access to all registered Precalculus courses for that semester. Following semesters will require additional purchases; however, students will retain access to the e-text for any courses they complete.
Each course begins with a review of basic mathematical skills necessary for successful completion of the course. There are many videos to help students to brush up on their mathematical skills. Students will need to pass a Skills Review Exam before gaining access to the course content.
Instead of presenting lectures to groups of 250 students in 50 minutes blocks of time, the Precalculus Program has created many short video lectures. The video lectures present a single objective at a time so students can focus on that one objective until they have a good understanding before moving on to the next objective. Students will be required to view each video lecture. Videos can also be viewed multiple times to enhance understanding and can be paused to allow students to take notes.
In addition to the objective lectures, there are from one to six videos of example problems for each sub-objective. We highly recommend that students study each example problem. The many examples provide different facets of the sub-objective. Each sub-objective has one to six “Try This” problems. Students should try to solve these problems on their own and then check their solution by watching the video solution.
The Precalculus Center in the Weber Building is staffed with undergraduate course assistants who provide walk-in tutoring for students taking the Precalculus courses. The course assistants have been specially trained to help students learn Precalculus mathematics.
Students should not hesitate to ask questions of the course assistants. They should raise their hand or walk up to a course assistant and initiate a conversation. Course assistants will expect students to have done their part by studying the online materials, watching the lectures, and working through examples and sample problems, and making a serious effort to understand and solve problems. Expect the course assistant to engage students in a discussion that builds on the studying they have done. Do not expect a course assistant to give students private lectures or explain the entire course to them. Expect a course assistant to be a coach.
To make the best use of the Precalculus Center, students should spend an hour or more there studying math several times each week. Students will benefit more from the course assistants’ help if they get to know them. Students should make an effort to get acquainted. If students prefer to work with a certain course assistant, they should ask when he or she is scheduled in the Learning Center or check the Course Assistants’ Schedule posted in the Learning Center and arrange their study hours at those times.
Learning math is like learning to play a musical instrument; it takes practice. The best way to develop problem solving skills is to try them out on numerous problems. Required Assignments for the units of every course are available within the course materials. There is one Required Assignment for every objective. Students may complete these assignments in the Precalculus Center or at another computer that is compatible with our program. Students will be required to successfully complete each assignment by answering three problems correctly.
Required Assignments may be completed multiple times. New problems will appear each time to allow students to practice what they are learning.
These sites provide more opportunities to practice problems.
Students may access each attempted Review, Unit and Final Exam via the “My Status” link. They can review the exam items, what answers were entered, and the correct answers by clicking on the applicable exam. An explanation of the solution is provided for each of the exam items.
Students should keep organized scratch work when taking an exam. It is helpful to have scratch work when students have a need to discuss a problem with a course assistant. Then, if they have questions or are especially proud of a solution, they can discuss their work with one of the course assistants in the Learning Center. Explaining written solutions to someone else will reinforce understanding.
Supplemental Texts and Calculators
The Precalculus Center Resource Desk is stocked with supplemental textbooks, calculators, and calculator manuals. Check out these texts to read another presentation of a topic and to find additional practice problems.
Texas Instruments TI-83® or TI-84® Graphing Calculators are needed for all Precalculus courses. If you are not familiar with these calculators, you may want to check one out from the Precalculus Center Resource Desk and practice with it in the Precalculus Center.
Texas Instruments offers a free 90 day trail of their TI-84 emulating software.
Texas Instruments also maintains a listing of TI-83/84 tutorial websites. Many of these tutorials are offered free of charge.