Math 121 Syllabus - Fall 2002

Dr. Robb T. Koether
Office: Bagby 114
Office phone: 223-6207
Home phone: 392-8604 (before 11:00 pm)
Office hours: 1:30 - 2:20 M-F; other hours by appointment.
Statistics by Blaisdell

If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. (Eccles. 10:10)


The class meets during EI periods in Bagby 008. We will meet during the Tuesday I period; we will not meet during the Thursday I period.

The text for the course is Statistics in Practice, 2nd ed., by Ernest A. Blaisdell.

The web page for this course is at


There will be In the final average, these will have the following weights:

Category Weight Equivalent
Average of homework problem sets 30% (3 letter grades)
Average of the tests 40% (4 letter grades)
Term paper grade 10% (1 letter grade)
The final exam 20% (2 letter grades)

Homework problem sets (30)%

I will assign homework problems every day. (See the schedule.) Whenever homework is assigned, it will be collected the following class meeting, except when there is a test, in which case it will be collected the class meeting following the test. Typically, I will select approximately 25% of the homework problems at random and grade them. I will grade only even-numbered problems. At the end of the semester, I will drop the four lowest homework grades.

You may work with another student on the homework, but you must never copy anyone else's work and turn it in as your own. Neither should you copy answers from the back of the book. The work you turn in for a grade must be your own work. Otherwise, it is an honor code violation. I will prosecute any cases for which I have sufficient evidence.

The homework is the most important part of this course. Learning mathematics requires gaining knowledge and understanding, but it is also a skill. You should not expect to acquire a skill by listening to a lecturer talk about it. It takes practice. Do all of the homework every night. As you do the homework, make an effort to memorize the formulas and methods. It is easier to memorize a little at a time than a lot at once. When doing the homework, make full use of the available resources:

I strongly recommend that you do the homework as soon as possible after class, perhaps during the following period, while the day's lesson is still fresh. I am generally available until 5:00 pm each day. The tutors are generally available from 8:00 pm until 11:00 pm, Sunday through Thursday. Do not wait until all of your helpers are off duty to begin your assignments.

At the beginning of each class meeting, I will spend up to 15 minutes answering questions on the latest homework. I will discuss only odd-numbered problems. I will not discuss any even-numbered problems. If you have questions about even-numbered problems, you should see me before class. The first 15 minutes of class is not a time to be doing homework. Your homework should already be done.

All outside work is due at the beginning of class on the due date. No late work will be accepted without a valid excuse. (See the Class Attendance section of the Academic Catalogue 2001-2002.) If you must miss class, you should either turn in your work early or send it by a classmate. If you must turn in work late, then turn it in at my office during office hours so that we will have a chance to discuss the reason why it is late.

Tests (40%)

You should make every conceivable effort to be present and prepared for an hour test. If you do not feel that you are prepared, you must take the test anyway. The only valid excuses for missing a test are serious illnesses and unavoidable emergencies which can be verified. If you foresee that you must miss a test, then you should make arrangements, before the absence, to take the test. If you miss a test for a reason that is less than compelling, you will not be allowed to take the test later. If you miss a test, it is essential that you contact me and make arrangements at the earliest possible moment.

When you study for a test, do not attempt to do all of your studying in one night. Instead, spread your studying out over several nights. Each test covers three chapters, so perhaps you could devote one night to a single chapter for each of three nights. On the night before a test, the most important thing you can do is to get a good night's rest. Do not drink alcohol on the two or three days before a test. If you do, it will affect your ability to concentrate, think logically, and recall facts. In other words, it will make it look as if you didn't study.

The test schedule is as follows:

Test Date Material
#1 Fri, Sep 27 Chapters 1, 2, 3
#2 Fri, Nov 1 Chapters 4, 5, 6
#3 Fri, Dec 4 Chapters 7, 8, 9

Term Paper (10%)

During the semester I will give you a variety of topics of current interest from which to choose a subject for a term paper. You may also suggest for my approval topics in which you may be interested. You may research a topic through the library or the internet, or you may conduct your own statistical study, gathering and interpreting your own data. You will write a term paper on your topic, making use of statistical concepts and terminology as well as addressing the subject matter. I will grade these term papers for grammar and quality of writing as well as for mathematical and statistical content.

Final Exam (20%)

The final exam will be cumulative. Seventy percent will come from Chapters 1 - 8 and 30% from Chapters 9 and 10. It will be given in this classroom at the time stated in the exam schedule. Everyone must take it and it will not be rescheduled.


See the Class Attendance section of the Academic Catalogue 2001-2002.

Attendance will be checked at the beginning of each class. If you arrive late, you will be counted absent. If that happens and you would like the absence to be changed to a late arrival, then see me after class. Two late arrivals will be counted as one absence.

The only valid excuses for missing class are

No other excuses will be considered.

When assigning final grades, attendance will be taken into account.

Absences Action
0 - 2 Grade bonus (one "part" of a grade)
3 - 5 Neutral
6 - 8 Grade penalty (one "part" of a grade)
> 8 Withdrawal (WF)

A warning letter will be sent out after the 8th absence.


A calculator will be necessary for this course. I encourage you to use a more advanced statistical calculator with keys for the mean and standard deviation. I strongly recommend a TI-83. All calculators will be permitted, including programmable calculators.

Classroom Policy

Do the reading before each lecture. Be prepared to work problems in class. When you come to class, bring with you

During a lecture,you are free to ask questions. It is polite to raise your hand first and wait to be called on. You should not talk to other students while I am talking.

However, while working assigned problems in class, you are free to talk to other students provided you are talking about the assigned problems.

Do not make a habit of leaving the room during the class. If necessary, use the bathroom before coming to class. If you are thirsty, get a drink before class.

Final Note

Some of you may be well prepared in math; others of you may not be. Some of you may be talented in math; some of you may not be. Never use a lack of talent as an excuse not to work hard. Rather, it is a reason to work all the harder. In other words, I expect to see the greatest effort from those of you who are the least talented!

e-mail me at

Last modified: Aug 22, 2002


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