MA450 Seminar in Mathematics

for SP 2011

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MA 450 Seminar in Mathematics


SP 2011 HO


Smith, Charlie L.


Associate Professor of Mathematics


Ph.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2002
M.A., University of Kansas, 1983
B.A., William Jewel College, 1981

Office Location

Science Building, Room 308

Office Hours


Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

January 10 through May 6, 2011

Class Days


Class Time

2:25 - 3:40 PM


MA 301 and permission of the instructor.

Credit Hours


No textbook required for this course.

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
MA 450 Seminar in Mathematics: A capstone for the mathematics majors. Topics may include: selected readings and discussion of the history and philosophy of mathematics, the golden ages and crises in mathematics. Student presentations are required. One field trip required. 3:0:3 Prerequisite: MA301 and Permission of the instructor.

Educational Philosophy:

Mathematics is my lifelong passion and obsession. In the classroom, I try to convey my enthusiasm and excitement for mathematics; I emphasize its pristine beauty and logical structure. Students are required to work a substantial number of homework problems in order to learn the material. Typically two major tests are given each semester. Material is presented in lecture format; students are encouraged to interrupt to ask questions.

A famous old adage says that mathematics is not a spectator sport. In order to learn mathematics, students must attempt a significant number of problems. Drill and practice are essential in order to succeed. In addition, the material should not be covered too quickly. Student comprehension always takes priority in the educational process.

Class Assessment:
Test on Unit 1:  Definitions and Classic Theorems
Test on Unit 2:  Related Rates; Optimization; Length, Area, Volume
Essay on Unit 3:  Awareness of the Beauty, Diversity, and Rich Interconnectedness of the Various Branches of Mathematics
Test on Unit 4:  Matrix Applications and Classical Probability
Test on Unit 5:  Techniques of Proof and Abstract Algebraic Structures

All tests will be CLOSED REFERENCE tests, meaning that you are NOT allowed to use any books, notes, or handouts.  you will of course be required to bring a calculator.  Graphing calculators are not allowed on testsPLEASE take each test on the day that it is scheduled.  any make-up test given will be significantly more difficult than the original test.  The instructor may deny this option depending upon circumstances.  Once taken and recorded, your test score is final and cannot be changed.

85-100% = A
  70-84% = B
  60-69% = C
  50-59% = D

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Homework assignments MUST be turned in on the announced due date.  LATE PAPERS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.  You will either turn in an assignment on the date that it is due, or you will not turn it in at all.  An assignment MUST be received by class time on the announced due date.  If it is not received by this time, then a score of ZERO will be recorded for that assignment.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  NO EXCUSES.  Athletes who are traveling out of town with a Park University team must turn in the assignment before departure.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

EXPECTATIONS:   What are the things that the student needs to do in order to succeed in this course?

1.  Regular attendance is ESSENTIAL.

2.  Listen carefully and pay attention.

3.  Take thorough, accurate class notes.  For better retention, review your notes as soon as possible after each class 

     session. Review your notes regularly throughout the semester. 

4.  VOCABULARY, TERMINOLOGY, and NOTATION are extremely important in learning mathematics.

5.  ASK QUESTIONS DURING CLASS whenever you need more explanation.

6.  Consult with the instructor if you are having ANY DIFFICULTY WHATSOEVER.  That's why they pay me the big


7. Tutoring assistance is available through the Academic Support Center, Mabee Underground Room 406, phone 6330.

Behavior:  Show respect for the instructor.  Show respect for your classmates.  Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated.

Responsibility:  The student is entirely responsible for obtaining and learning any material missed because of absence.  Get handouts and assignments from instructor.  Get class notes from another student in the class.

Calculator:  Each student will need a scientific (not statistical or business) calculator.  Graphing calculators are NOT ALLOWED ON TESTS.  Please make sure that the calculator has trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic, and inverse function capabilities.  Try not to spend more that $25 or so.  You can probably find one on sale somewhere.  Most students use Texas Instruments, Casio or a comparable brand name.

Miscellaneous: What materials are you responsible for understanding?  EVERYTHING.  Of course, it would be impossible for you to reproduce everything or demonstrate total knowledge on homework and tests, but you are expected to strive for excellence in everything that we cover, so that you will be prepared for anything.  As mathematics and science majors, any effort on your part less than this cannot be considered satisfactory.

The instructor reserves the right to make changes in the syllabus due to time constraints, speed of coverage, or other factors.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:
Unit 1:  Definitions and Classic Theorems
Unit 2:  Calculus Applications
Unit 3:  Aesthetic Awareness and Technology
Unit 4:  Matrix Applications and Classical Probability
Unit 5:  Abstract Structures and Proving Theorems

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

Additional Information:
MA 450 Exam Rubric

Competency 1: 

The student will demonstrate the ability to read, present, utilize and explain orally and in writing, fundamental concepts of mathematics.

Example Items: 

Provide definitions of a limit, derivative, anti-derivative, the Riemann sum of a definite integral.  Explain the quadratic formula.  State and explain the Fundamental Theorems of Arithmetic, Algebra, and Calculus.

How Well Competency is Met?       Exceeds ____   Meets ____ Fails to Meet ____

Competency 2:

The student will analyze and model given abstract mathematical structures.

Example Items:

Demonstrate knowledge of logic, of groups, rings, and fields, of vector spaces, and of set theory.

How Well Competency is Met?       Exceeds ____   Meets ____ Fails to Meet ____

Competency 3:

The student will demonstrate the ability to abstract, generalize, and apply specific mathematical concepts.

Example Items:

Solve problems of optimization, related rates, classical probability, systems of linear equations, lengths, areas, and volumes by integration, and problems entailing the graphing of functions.

How Well Competency is Met?       Exceeds ____   Meets ____ Fails to Meet ____

Competency 4:

The student will exhibit through oral and written expression an awareness of the beauty, diversity, and rich interconnectedness of the various branches of mathematics.

Example Items:

Demonstrate knowledge of the three classic construction problems of ancient Greece.

How Well Competency is Met?       Exceeds ____   Meets ____ Fails to Meet ____

Competency 5:

The student will construct clear, logical, coherent, and correct proofs using various strategies and techniques and evaluate proofs of others by the same criteria.

Example Items:

Demonstrate skill in performing proofs by direct proof, through induction, through the use of contradiction, by the use of contrapositive, by cases, by the "pigeonhole" method, by logical tautology, and by using the definition of set equality.

How Well Competency is Met?       Exceeds ____   Meets ____ Fails to Meet ____

Competency 6:

The student will be aware of appropriate technology (including paper and pencil) to solve mathematical problems and to present, display, communicate, or create mathematical ideas.

Example Items:

Demonstrate use of appropriate software and/or hardware.

How Well Competency is Met?       Exceeds ____   Meets ____ Fails to Meet ____


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Last Updated:1/27/2011 3:42:03 PM