Linear Algebra Math 310
Course Info in Detail
The course schedule that has been distributed should be considered tentative. It is possible that we will deviate from the schedule, spending more time on some subjects and less time on others. However, we should cover all the material listed by the end of the course. As a general rule, once a section of the text has been discussed in class the first time, you should work on at least some of the assigned homework problems by the following class meeting. Even if no specific assignment is announced in class, you will be expected to work on the appropriate problems. See the additional comments on a separate page about Homework.
As stated on the one page course information sheet, grades will be based on two in-class exams (28% each), a final exam (28%) and class participation, homework, and other activities (16%). This last category is optional, and cannot lower your exam average. Here is how it works. During the semester, you are expected to keep as detailed on a separate webpage about portfolios. It will contain all of your work for the semester. The portfolio will be handed in for my review at each exam. During the final exam I will review your portfolio and then determine a subjective grade for both the portfolio and class participation. If this grade is lower than your exam average, (or if you do not turn in a portfolio), it will NOT be counted as part of your grade. (In this event, the in class exams will each count for 1/3 of your grade.) If the subjective grade is higher than your exam average, it will be included in your grade, with a weight of 16%.
I do not follow a rigid point system for converting point totals to
letter grades. At the end of the course, I try to assign grade
ranges so that students with nearly equal point totals don't end up
with different grades. Usually, the grade ranges are something
like this: A = 93 and above, A- = 90-93, B+ = 88-90, B = 83-88, B- =
80-83, C+ = 78-80, C = 73-78, C- = 70-73, D = 60 - 70, F = anything
below 60. But these are only approximately correct. At the
end of the course, the cutoffs between different grades may be slightly
different than the list shown here.
If you are forced to miss an in-class exam for reasons beyond your control (such as an illness, family emergency, etc.), a makeup may be arranged, but ONLY if I am informed in advance. I will NOT approve requests to reschedule an exam for reasons of convenience. For example, if you plan to travel before or after a school break, that is not a valid reason to reschedule an exam. Similarly, avoidable conflicts for recreational, entertainment, social, or work activities are generally not valid reasons to miss an exam. You have received a schedule indicating the dates of the exams; please plan other activities around them.
Aside from the days of the midterms, attendance in this course is not required; I will not keep track of days you miss class. However, you are responsible for anything presented in class, including announced schedule changes, modifications to assignments, and material that supplements what is in the text. Note also that the class work component of your grade will depend on regular participation in class activities. If you elect to skip these activities, your final grade will be based on exams.
Learning Objectives and Study Tips
The goal of this course is to learn the important ideas, results, and techniques of linear algebra. Doing assigned homework problems is one way to learn this material. However, you will also be expected to understand (and be able to explain) important concepts, as well as knowing mathematically correct statements of definitions and theorems. That means knowing the assumptions as well as the conclusions of theorems. Often, doing the homework problems alone is NOT sufficient for learning definitions and theorems. So, in addition to doing homework problems, plan to read each section carefully, making note of the significant theorems and definitions, and practice restating these in your own words, without looking at the text.