Math 147: PreCalculus


William P. Clement
Associate Research Professor
Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface (CGISS)
Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
Telephone: (208) 426-4307

Critical Competencies for Life

Here is a list of critical competencies for citizens and workers from leaders in business, industry, and government (Gardiner, 1994):

You should keep these competencies in mind throughout your Boise State experience. Mastering these skills will make you employable. Notice that not one of the items on the list mention "knowing the subject". That comes under lifelong learning, epsecially in our fast changing society. Your Boise State education is much more than learning the material from your classes. Take advantage of the fantastic opportunities at Boise State to broaden your interests and knowledge!

Expectations for Math 147:

This list is from an Engineering professor highlighting the important aspects of PreCalculus that will be used frequently in higher level engineering courses. This list is not the complete set of topics I expect you to know at the end of this course. Furthermore, some items on the list may not be thoroughly covered in Math 147. However, this list gives you an idea of the types of math skills you should learn in Math 147 so that you will be on the path to a successful engineering career.

Boise State Univeristy Policies

Helpful Course Material

Course Syllabus. A copy, in pdf format, of the syllabus handed out in class. Also available is the PowerPoint® course introduction shown in class.

Course Schedule. A copy, in pdf format, of the schedule from the syllabus.

The ALEKS list of topics is now on the web.

For your convenience, here is a link to ALEKS.

Online Graphing Calculator Manual. The manual for your graphing calculator can be accessed by following the link titled Graphing Calculator Manual with Exercises on the this web page.

Helpful Trigonometric Function Links

Here is an excellent link to help you understand trigonometric functions. From this page are other excellent links. Especially look at the Unit Circle in Trigonometry and sin(x), cos(x) and tan(x) link near the bottom of the page. This web page shows how the trigonometric functions are related to the unit circle. Check out the tutorial! Other good pages from the trigonometric functions web page are the sin(x), cos(x), etc. links. Once at these pages, click the tutorial button. These sites show the general form of the trigonometric functions and how changes to one of the parameters, a, b, c, d, change the shape of the plot of the trigomometic function.

Helpful Enrichment Links

The Cornell Method for Note-taking is a simple system for note-taking and organizing your notes. The link is to a pdf file. The method suggests that you use telegraphic sentences. I had to look this up. In their book How to Study for College, Pauk and Owens indicate that "[t]he best way to take notes is telegraphically. Long before e-mail and the fax machine were invented, important business and personal messages were sent by telegraph. The sender paid by the word; the fewer the words, the lower the cost. To save valuable time when you're taking notes, leave out unneccessary words such as articles (a, an, the), abbreviate words you use often, and streamline definitions by using a colon (:) or a dash (-)."

I found a web page that has the steps to problem solving recommended in the book How To Solve It: A new aspect of Mathematical Method by George Polya. The web page was written by Peter Alfeld, a math professor at the University of Utah. He has some other links on this web site that you might find helpful and interesting.

Academic Support Services at Boise State is provided to help you improve your chance at success at Boise State. They have tips on how to study, take notes, prepare for exams, take exams, etc. Academic Support Services is an excellent resource to improve learning skills and therefore enjoy Boise State more.

Learning to Learn. A paper in pdf format by Karl Wirth and Dexter Perkins that provides a summary of different learning styles and learning philosophies. The authors are geologists, but the paper discusses learning for a general audience. Click here for a direct link to the paper and other interesting materials.

Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Styles. You might find it interesting to see the levels of knowledge proposed by Bloom, a seminal pioneer in learning styles.

Prof. Richard Felder is a Chemical Engineering Emeritus Professor at North Carolina State University. He is a highly regarded engineering professor who focuses on learning and engineering education.

Vark Guide to Learning Styles. Here is another survey to find your learning style.

Characteristics of a Successful Student from Cuesta College.

The Critical Thinking Community is an organization to help you learn how to think critically.

Helpful books for improving your learning skills

You may find the books Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a Rewarding Career by Raymond B. Landis (available from Discovery Press) or How To Study In College by Walter Pauk and Ross J. Q. Owens helpful.

Studying Engineering discusses the engineering profession and provides a lot of helpful information to succeed in your studies. The book also discusses the different types of engineering and provides information to help with your job search, either for summer employment or full-time work after graduation. I found this book informative about the engineering profession, study skills, and job searches.

How To Study In College is a basic book that discusses studying strategies for success in College. This book goes into more detail about studying, note-taking, and reading strategies than Studying Engineering. However, this book does not cover the engineering profession or job seeking skills. The book is aimed at a broader student audience.

A book aimed at problem solving is How To Solve It: A new aspect of Mathematical Method by George Polya. This book is highly regarded and often recommended to help improve your problem solving skills.

A book I found unexpectedly fascinating is Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography by Lou Holtz, the retired football coach. This book is not really about football; it is about the importance of learning throughout life. When I started reading it, I thought it would be a rather poorly written, corny coach's memoir. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book and how much I learned from it. Some of the terms Holtz uses, like "learning how to learn" are the same terms as books on teaching use. Holtz is a strong proponent of life-long learning and taking advantage of opportunities.

Fun (?) stuff

Here are some articles about learning or math that you may find interesting. Read them if you wish in your spare time. Let me know what you think about them. Are they interesting? Worthwhile? Motivating?

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Last updated January 11, 2008 by William P. Clement.
© William P. Clement 2008