RTTP SocSec Sample Syllabus
Based on emich.edu Math 110: Mathematical Reasoning
Prof. Andrew M. Ross
Winter Semester 2011
This is a sample syllabus for a course that includes the Reacting to the Past (RTTP) game
Ways and Means 1935. It is essentially the same syllabus that one of the game
authors uses in his Math 110 class at Eastern Michigan University. Math 110 is
our general-education math requirement in quantitative reasoning (QR) or
quantitative literacy (QL). This class is not typically taken by students who
major in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, or some technology fields (STEM).
Business majors do typically take this course.
Official Course Catalog Entry
An introduction to quantitative reasoning, with the aim of developing
the capacity to comprehend and analyze the quantitative information
that is prevalent in modern society. Topics include mathematical
modeling, basic probability and statistics, and practical
Prerequisites for this class
Placement or at least C in Math 098 (a developmental algebra course, gives no college credit, not
College Algebra), or at least D- in any of
The specific skills you will need from prerequisite courses are:
- Math 104: Algebra II (not developmental; gives college credit but is not College Algebra)
- Math 105: College Algebra
- Math 107: Trigonometry
- Basic percents: such as
- 1.2 is what percent of 4.9?
- If the budget is now 10.1 when it was 10.3, what is the percent change?
- If something cost 5.7 and it increased 6.1 percent, what does it cost now?
- Scientific notation: ability to convert 4e8 to 400,000,000 for example.
- Direct Proportionas: ability to set up and solve.
This class as a Prequisite for others
Math 110 is one of the math courses that fulfills the General Education
requirement for mathematical reasoning, in many cases. It also
fulfills prerequisites for courses in Chem, CompSci, Econ, Business, and Psych,
75 minutes per class meeting, twice a week (typically Mon/Wed or Tue/Thu).
3 credit hours.
Class meetings will be mostly interactive lectures, with some time to work on
problems in class, and some time to go over problems from the homework.
Some class sessions will meet in a computer lab or use a cartful of laptops.
Exams will also be held during class meetings.
I expect that you will work on Math 110 for 6 to 10 hours per week outside of class.
Professor Andrew Ross
Office: Pray-Harrold building, room 515z
(734) 487-1064, but I strongly prefer e-mail instead of phone contact.
- "Quantitative Reasoning in Mathematics" Course Pack
by Ahlbrandt, Calin, Curran, Gardiner, and Ross.
There's no ISBN.
I strongly recommend you not buy a copy more than 1 year old
- Scientific Calculator. Bring it to class each day.
A good example is the TI-30X-IIS calculator ($15-$20).
It does not have to be a graphing
calculator, but the TI-83plus graphing calculator is recommended.
Cell-phone calculators are not allowed on quizzes or tests.
- Microsoft Excel, or other spreadsheet software such as MS Works or
OpenOffice.org Calc or
- Graphing Calculator Manual for TI-83plus and TI-86 (ISBN: 0534-379001)
- In past years, we have used other textbooks for this course;
some people may like to read them in addition to our current
textbook. They are:
You may also enjoy "How to Lie with Statistics", by Darrell Huff,
"200% of Nothing" by A.K. Dewdney, and
"Proofiness" by Charles Seife.
- "Using and Understanding Mathematics: A
Quantitative Reasoning Approach" by Bennett and Briggs (any edition),
- "For All Practical Purposes: Mathematical literacy in today's world" (any edition), and
- "Quantitative Reasoning: Tools for Today's Informed Citizen" by Sevilla and Somers
Upon completing the course, students should be able to:
Math 110 qualifies as a Quantitative Reasoning course for almost everyone.
The QR outcomes defined by the General Education program (up to 2011) are:
- Carry out the steps of a mathematical modeling process.
- Apply a variety of mathematical models to problem situations.
- Analyze data using descriptive statistics.
- Calculate and interpret discrete probabilities.
- Use the normal distribution.
- Apply statistical criteria such as significance tests, correlation and confidence intervals.
- Explain the meaning of statistical criteria such as significance tests, correlation and confidence intervals.
- Present a written or oral report outlining a problem
situation, a proposed mathematical model, and a solution, together with
a discussion of both the assumptions upon which the model is based and
the limitations of the model.
- Analyze data using a spreadsheet program.
- Use a spreadsheet program to produce tables and graphs, and include them in a written report.
- Identify an appropriate model.
- Identify and discuss assumptions.
- Collect or generate appropriate data.
- Analyze a situation using arithmetic, geometric, algebraic, and probabilistic or statistical methods.
- Estimate answers.
- Propose and evaluate solutions.
- Predict outcomes in other situations based on what they have learned from their analysis.
- Understand and communicate quantitative relationships using symbols, equations, graphs, and tables.
- Share their findings in oral and written reports using appropriate mathematical language.
- Write summaries to explain how they reached their conclusions.
- Draw inferences from a model.
- Discuss the limitations of the model.
This course will provide students with ways to approach the quantitative
information that they are certain to encounter in later coursework at
Eastern Michigan University, throughout their careers, and in daily life.
The emphasis is on learning methods for comprehending, analyzing and using
quantitative information and on techniques for using data to inform
decisions about real world events and problems. For these reasons,
MATH 110 will satisfy the Quantitative Reasoning requirement in the
general education program,
Education for Participation in the Global Community.
Here are the topics in the order we cover them, with the relevant chapter/section numbers in our book.
- Percents pre-test
- Ch 1.1: Fish in the Lake: accuracy and precision
- Ch 8.1: Intro to Spreadsheets: text/number/formula, cell references, formatting
- Ch 1.2: Big Numbers (Scientific Notation), analytic estimation
- Ch 1.3: Compared to What? Putting numbers in context
- Ch 8.2: Intro to Spreadsheets: Simple and Compound interest
- Ch 2.1: Direct Proportions
- Ch 2.2: Inverse Proportions
- Ch 2.3: Advanced Percents:
- Spreadsheet formulas and formatting
- percentage points
- comparisons other than increase/decrease, like "Your proposal costs 90% more than mine"
- Ch 2.5: Inflation and Consumer Price Index (CPI)
- using CPI to convert from one year to another
- computing inflation as a percent from CPI
- "nominal" vs "real" percent changes
- "in constant dollars"
- Ch 3.1-3.3: Linear models review
- Ch 3.4: Piecewise Linear models:
- Economies of Scale/Bulk Discounts
- Diseconomies of Scale/Increasing Marginal Costs
- Progressive/Flat/Regressive taxes
- use of =max() and =min() in spreadsheets
- Ch 3.5: linear regression on spreadsheets
- Ch 4: Exponential models, mainly compound interest
(I actually skip this, preferring to do them year-by-year on a spreadsheet)
- Ch 5.1: Sampling, Random Sampling, Bias
- Ch 5.2: Probability
- Axioms (called "basic rules")
- Empirical probability
- Expected Frequency
- specifically skipped: combinatorics, binomials, etc.
- Ch 5.3: Expected Value and insurance
- Ch 6.1: histograms
- Ch 6.2: Mean and Median
- Social Security Game
- a week of preparation: worksheets from the gamebook, game instructions, etc.
- a week of role playing
- Ch 3.5: correlation vs. causation
- Ch 5.4: Gambler's Fallacy, classical vs. frequentist vs. Bayesian
- Ch 7: confidence intervals, statistical significance vs. practical significance
Your grade will be computed from a weighted average, with the following components:
Some homeworks and worksheets might be graded as credit/no
credit instead of graded in detail. These homeworks might then be
counted as only half of a graded-in-detail homework.
Final course grades will be assigned as follows: 90+ is an A, 85-90 is an A-, 80-85 is a B+, etc.
Note that there are about 17 homework assignments/worksheets,
and homework all together is worth 50 percent of your grade. So, each
assignment or worksheet is worth about 3 percent of your grade.
Missing two can knock you from an A to an A-, or an A- to a B+, etc.
Or, put it this way: if you paid about $1000 to take this course,
each homework is worth about $30. So not turning in a homework is like
taking a $10 and a $20 out of your wallet and burning them--and that's
just the immediate effect, not including doing worse on the tests,
and increasing the chances you might have to take the whole course again.
Similarly, we have about 28 class meetings this semester. So,
you are paying about $36 per class meeting--miss one, and you might
as well burn two $20 bills.
- 50%: Homework, In-Class Work, Projects, and possible Quizzes
- 15%: each of 2 Midterm Exams
- 20%: Final Exam
I take attendance every day. Research shows that taking attendance
improves student success, so that is why I do it. There will be material
presented in class that is not in the textbook, yet will be required
on the exams. Similarly, there are things in the textbook that
are might not be covered in class, but are still required on the
homework and exams. If you must miss a class,
arrange to get a copy of the notes from someone, and arrange for
someone to ask your questions for you.
My lectures and discussions mostly use the chalkboard. I do not
usually have PowerPoint-like presentations, and thus cannot hand
out copies of slides.
Sometimes we may have work that is assigned but not collected.
Even if homework or worksheets are not collected, you are responsible for
learning it--it could be on the tests!
Our project this semester will be a role-playing game where we pretend that
it is 1935 and we are members of the US House of Representatives. You
will stand up and make short speeches to persuade your fellow Representatives
to vote for what you want included (or not included) in the new
Social Security law, using cost estimates that you derive as your main
line of reasoning. This will occupy a week of class about 2 weeks before
the last day of class.
The final will be comprehensive, with a special emphasis on any material
not covered by the midterm exam(s).
You might be assigned seats while exams are in progress. No extra
time will be given for late arrivals to exams. During the exam, all
electronic equipment other than your calculator should be put away.
Remember, calculators embedded in cell phones are not allowed.
Do not purchase any airline tickets to depart before the
final exam. Be sure to allow enough time to get to the airport, etc.
You will not be allowed to "take
the exam early because you have already purchased a non-refundable
airline ticket". See above for the final exam schedules.
No scores will be dropped, unless a valid medical excuse with
evidence is given (subject to the school's H1N1 Flu policy).
In the unfortunate event of a medical need, the instructor will decide
between a make-up being given or the grade being dropped, or any
Even if a grade is dropped, you are strongly encouraged to still
complete the relevant assignments or exams and consult with me during
office hours to ensure you know the material.
The instructor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus
throughout the semester. Notification will be given in class or
by e-mail or both. If you miss class, it is your responsibility
to find out about syllabus and schedule changes, especially
the dates and times of exams.
Advice from Other Math 110 Students
In the last two semesters, I've asked my Math 110 students to give
advice to you, future Math 110 students, based on their experiences
in my course. Here are some of the highlights:
- Study, prepare and take advantage of office hours if needed!
Come to class, take notes & use the opportunity to make the sheet
for exams. Very helpful were the sheets we could use on exams.
- Write all that you can on the note sheet you can use for
the test because it's better to have more than you need instead of
missing something :)
- Be prepared to understand the math and its various applications.
- You will be spending a lot of time on the computer, but the areas that you cover will really benefit you.
Read the book (at least some of it). The examples from the book are
very helpful. Sometimes things are better explained in the book if you
don't completely understand how to do something first.
- Listen to what is talked about in class to help prepare for the exams.
- Have a calculator & do the homework. Watch your calculations.
Make sure you always ask questions and go to office. It is what helped
me get through this class. Professor Ross always helped when we asked.
- Come to class, ask questions, see Dr. Ross in office hours he will help explain things.
- Don't round up on the homework until you get to your final answer.