Math 522 Algebraic Thinking

T 5:30-8:15pm NSM C239

Matt Jones                            email: 

Website: You will find the syllabus and course assignments on the website.        

Office:  NSM A-120             phone:  (310) 243-2410

Office Hours:        M 12-12:45pm

                                M 2:15-3:45pm

                                T 8:15-9pm

                                W 6:45-7:30pm

                                And by appointment

Text and Materials:  Fostering Algebraic Thinking, by Mark Driscoll, Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH, 1999; Algebraic Thinking, Barbara Moses, ed., NCTM; a graphing calculator; graph paper.

Course Description:  This course is designed for you to learn algebraic thinking and research about the teaching of algebraic thinking.

Goals:  Students will understand

  • The use of mathematical language as distinct from everyday language
  • Polynomials, especially linear and quadratic polynomials, their algebra, and their applications
  • Properties and operations with integers, rational numbers, and real numbers
  • The notion of function and the functions common to introductory algebra
  • Habits of mind and how they relate to success in mathematics, especially
    • Generalization
    • Specialization
    • Connecting multiple representations
  • Problem-posing as a tool of algebraic thinking
  • Current research in algebraic thinking and the teaching of algebraic thinking

Expected Outcomes:  Students will be able to

  • Model teaching techniques to assist students in deciphering the language of mathematics
  • Explain operations with polynomials using the area model
  • Explain the effect of the coefficients of a polynomial on its graph
  • Pose and solve problems involving questions about the behavior of polynomials
  • Pose and solve problems involving properties of numbers and number patterns
  • Use multiple representations of functions (including graphing calculators) to give multiple solution methods to problems
  • Create appropriate contexts which require a specified function or type of function
  • Utilize knowledge of current research to inform teaching practice


You will be assessed in the following categories:

Homework             98            points

Journal                   42            points

Midterm                 140          points

Final                       220          points

Total                       500          points

Homework:  You will be assigned homework problems weekly, and homework will be due each Tuesday.  If you cannot be in class, have someone turn your homework in for you or turn it in to my office on the day it is due.  Late homework is not accepted.  Full credit (7 points) is given if all work is completed and correct.  A score of 6 points is given to work that is complete but not all correct.  A score of 5 points or fewer indicates that not all the homework was done.

Journal:  Each week will involve two journal entries:  One entry will be a reflection on the week’s assigned reading, and the second will be an end-of-class reflection.  Journals will be collected three times over the semester:  September 21, November 2, and December 7.

The Midterm will be given on Tuesday, October 19 at the beginning of class.

The Final will be held on Tuesday, December 14, 5:30-7:30pm, and will be cumulative.

Grading Scale:  A:  92% or better, A-:  88-91%, B+:  84-87%, B:  81-83%, B-:  77-80%,

C+:  74-76%, C:  71-73%, C-:  68-70%, D:  65-67%, F 64% or below

Make-up Policy:  I do not accept late or make-up work.  If you experience a major emergency, special arrangements may be made at my discretion.

Academic integrity is expected.  I enforce university policies on academic integrity.  In particular, cheating, fraud, plagiarism or other academic dishonesty is unacceptable and will be cause for disciplinary action.