Syllabus: MAT 171-01 Survey of Calculus for Life Science Students. Spring 2014.

Updated Tue Jan 21 14:51:55 PST 2014

Instructor: George Jennings
Office: NSM A122
Phone: (310)243-3592

Office hours: Please see my website.


Text: Calculus for the Life Sciences, a Modeling Approach. Vol. I by James L. Cornette and Ralph A. Ackerman. Download a full-color copy for free or purchase an inexpensive, convenient, black-and-white paper copy at

Please do not imagine that you can pass this course without a textbook. Students who try that always fail. The course is too hard to learn without careful study. You'll need your textbook starting on the first day of class.


Course Description and Prerequisites

For prerequisites and the official course description please the University Catalog:

However the course description in the University Catalog is out of date because it was written at a time when this class was meant for business and economics students. Nowadays MAT 171 is aimed at biology and life-science students. MAT 171 aims to give biology and life science students an overview of calculus so that they understand what calculus can do in a life-science context. and read and comprehend life science literature that uses the concepts of calculus. Students learn to use the concepts, symbols, language, and tools of calculus: rates of change, derivatives, differential equations, integration, to solve life-science problems. By the end of the course students should be able to understand life-science literature where calculus is used and communicate productively with mathematicians about life science problems.

Course Objectives, Expected Outcomes, and Method of Evaluating Outcomes

See the paragraph above, and the Math Department Syllabus for MAT 171 at

Grading Policy, Make-up Work

Students' grades are based on homework, tests, and a final exam.

Homework =20% of grade
3 chapter tests = 45% of grade (15% each)
Final exam = 35% of grade

Homework is the most important thing on this list because practice is the key to learning. People who do well on homework usually do well on tests, but people who don't do the homework always fail the tests.

I normally do not accept make-up work or give make-up tests. Please arrange your schedule so you can finish the work on time and take the tests when scheduled.

Minimum grades. Of course if you get 90% of all possible points you are guaranteed to get an A, if you get 80% you will get at least a B, and so on. These are minimum grades -- your grade may be higher than that.

Exam Dates and Assignment schedule

Exam dates and paper-based assignments are listed on the course calendar

. Computer-based homework assignments are listed on Webwork Please check these sources frequently for updates.

Attendance Requirements

I normally do not require attendance except on exam days, but long experience shows that students who miss a significant number of classes always flunk, or have to drop out, and lose their registration fees. If you are serious you will come to class, work hard, and learn a lot of mathematics, but if you are not serious please don't register for this class.

Academic Integrity

The mathematics department does not tolerate cheating. Students who have questions or concerns about academic integrity should ask their professors or the counselors in the Student Development Office, or refer to the University Catalog for more information. (Look in the index under "academic integrity".)

Accomodations for Students with Disabilities

Cal State Dominguez Hills adheres to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations for students with temporary and permanent disabilities. If you have a disability that may adversely affect your work in this class, I encourage you to register with Disabled Student Services (DSS) and to talk with me about how I can best help you. All disclosures of disabilities will be kept strictly confidential. Please note: no accommodation may be made until you register with the DSS in WH D180. For information call (310) 243-3660 or to use telecommunications Device for the Deaf, call (310) 243-2028.

Computer and Information Literacy

Computers can't do calculus for you, what you need are your brain cells. However computers can generate nice diagrams and do tedious arithmetical calculations that would take you a lot of time to do by hand, so we'll use them sometimes in class. Most computer computer programs are designed to be pretty easy to use, all you really need to be able to do is turn the machine on, type in your name and password so you can log in, and read and follow instructions. If you use a calculator read your manual!! If you have lost the manual you can probably find one online -- just use a search engine like Google or Microsoft Bing to search for one. You'll need to use WeBWorK to do the homework problems, which means you'll need to have access to the internet, use a web browser, and type in answers to math problems. Don't worry about this -- just follow the instructions. If you have trouble just ask me or somebody else to help.