Math 108 Practical Mathematics (Topics in Mathematics)

Fall 2009 Online course using Sakai


Contact Information:

Instructor: James Baglama

Phone: 401.874.4412

Office: Lippitt Hall 101A


Office Hours:  By appointment only.


Learning Outcomes:

The course is designed to help students learn to think clearly, logically, and analytically, and to understand the importance and practical applications of math in everyday life, science, and technology.


Course Description:

The online Math 108, Practical Mathematics, is a special topics course that satisfies the general education requirement for math at the University of Rhode Island. The three general educations skills addressed in this class, are reading complex texts, using quantitative data, and using information technology. The content of the course is intended for students majoring in the liberal arts or other fields that do not have a specific mathematical requirement. This course covers in part the following topics, Management Science, Identification Numbers, Transmitting Information and Cryptography, the Internet, Voting Methods, Data Distributions, and the Mathematics of Money. Prerequisite for this course is basic high school math.


Course Objectives and Goals:

To better appreciate the variety of subjects within mathematics, you will be introduced to some exciting ideas in mathematics that come from a wide variety of disciplines along with real world applications such as voting schemes, consumer price index, web searching, home buying, etc. The course intends to help students think logically and critically about mathematical information that abounds in our society. We will use the online systems in Sakai. Within Sakai we will use discussion boards and the exam system as methods to help learn the topics covered in this course.  We will cover nine chapters of the Practical math textbook over the semester.





3 Online quizzes

50 points each, total 150 points

10 Homework assignments

10 points each, total 100 points

3 Writing essays

30 points each, total 90 points

Participation (10 discussion groups, i.e. Forums)

  6 points each, total 60 points

Extra credit maximum allowed 10 points

  0 to 10  points


400 total points

A 360pts

360pts < B 320pts

320pts < C   280pts

280pts < D 240pts

240pts < F

                                                               +/- grades will not be given



TextBook: (Must have textbook by Sept. 9)


 “For All Practical Purposes”, 7th edition by COMAP. Publisher W.H. Freeman.

There are two options to obtain the textbook for this course.

Option 1:

Electronic Textbook, referred to as the ebook. The website for the Electronic Textbook, The ebook cost $61.95 for one year access to the electronic textbook. The instructor's email address is

Option 2:

Purchase a new or used hard copy of the textbook through




Course Outline: (There is much more material in our text than we could possibly cover

                              this semester. We will cover nine chapters. Make sure you read these

                              chapters entirely.)








HW Due



Sept. 9 - Sept. 20


Classes begin


Ch. 1

pp. 25-27

1, 2, 3, 4, 16, 

20, 24


Sept. 20


Sept. 21 - Sept. 29



Ch. 2

pp. 64-69

1, 2, 4, 20, 26, 32,

40 part a only


Sept. 29


Sept. 30 - Oct. 9


Short Writing Essay 1

 Due Oct. 9

Ch. 5

pp. 210-214

1, 5, 6, 11, 12, 15,

 19, 20


Oct. 9


Oct. 10 - Oct. 20

Quiz 1

Chapters 1, 2, 5

Ch. 8

pp. 326 - 329

1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 19, 22,

32, 36

Oct. 20


Oct. 21 - Oct. 30



Ch. 9

pp. 364-365

2, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14


Oct. 30


Oct. 31 - Nov. 10

Short Writing Essay 2

Due Nov. 10

Ch.  16

pp. 613-615

 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15,

 18, 22, 36


Nov. 10


Nov. 11 - Nov. 20


Quiz 2

Chapters 8, 9, 16

Ch. 17

pp. 654-655

2, 3, 8, 10, 20, 34,

46, 60


Nov. 20


Nov. 21 - Dec. 1


Ch.  21

pp. 825-831

 2, 3, 5, 13, 14, 17,

 18, 30


Dec. 1


Dec. 2 - Dec. 11

Short Writing Essay 3

Due Dec. 11

Ch. 22

pp. 852 - 853

1, 3, 4, 15, 16, 43, 44

Dec. 11


Dec. 12 - Dec. 19

Quiz 3

Chapters 17, 21, 22







Short Writing Essays:

There will be three short writing essays for this course. The due dates are Oct. 9, Nov. 10, and Dec. 11 for essay 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Essays will be no more than one page in length. The assignments must be submitted by the due date and must be submitted using the Assignments tool in Sakai. DO NOT SUBMIT ASSIGNMENTS VIA EMAILS OR FAXES! I will not accept them! I suggest using a word processor (e.g. Microsoft Word or OpenOffice) for your essay submissions. . Essay topics will be posted in Sakai. Essay 1 topic will be posted on Sept. 2, Essay 2 topic will be posted on Oct. 10, and Essay 3 topic will be posted on Nov. 11. No late essays will be accepted. The computer system Sakai does not allow late submission.


Short Writing Essay grading rubric

Full credit (30pts)

No grammatical and spelling mistakes, well organized, well written, material thoroughly covered, paper stands out from other papers, and display of original thought

29pts – 20 pts

Most of the points covered in the full credit, but not as well written

19pts – 10pts

Displays a decent effort, and no major grammatical or spelling problems

9pts – 0pts

Comprehension of material not displayed, and/or major grammatical or spelling problems,

little effort made, looks like it was prepared night before




You will be required to participate in the discussion groups, i.e. Forums. Topics will be posted as the course progresses. There will be one Forum for each chapter we cover and one additional Forum. This is considered class participation and counts for 60 points out of 400 points.  At the end of a discussion I will grade each student. A student that receives a 3 on each criterion would receive a grade of 6 for that discussion.


Forums grading rubric





Responses to questions

Student responds to the posted questions with thoughtful ideas, uses concepts in

the text, and post in a timely manner.

Student responds to the posted question in a way that does not clearly use the concepts in the text.

Student responds to the posted question but misses the main idea.


Postings encourage and facilitate interaction among members of the online community. Student responds to other postings.

Postings rarely interact with or respond to other members of the online community.

Not actively engaged in the discussion.

Postings respond to questions posed by the instructor only. Students rarely post to the discussion boards.





All homework has been assigned with a due date. The assignments must be submitted by the due date using the Assignments tool in Sakai. DO NOT SUBMIT ASSIGNMENTS VIA EMAILS OR FAXES! I will not accept them! I suggest using a word processor (e.g. Microsoft Word or OpenOffice) for your assignments. You can also scan and upload handwritten assignments. The computer system Sakai does not allow late submission.



Quizzes will be given through Sakai on the dates stated above. Quizzes will be posted for one week and will be timed. For example,  Quiz 1 will be made available on 12 :00 a.m. Saturday Oct. 10 and will be removed on 11:55 p.m.  Saturday Oct. 17 and you will have a maximum of four hours to complete the quiz.  Failure to take the quiz in the given time slot will be given a zero. No exceptions!



Academic Integrity:

Cheating is defined in the University Manual section 8.27.10 as the claiming of credit for work not done independently without giving credit for aid received, or any unauthorized communication during examinations. Students are expected to be honest in all academic work.  The resolution of any charge of cheating or plagiarism will follow the guideline set forth in the University Manual 8.27.10-8.27.20, Online exams must be done independently. Suspicious scores may require additional explanation via email or phone and/or a face to face on campus examination.  



Sakai is being used to teach this course. That means you must become familiar with using Sakai. All of the course material can only be accessed through the Sakai course shell. All assignments MUST be submitted through Sakai using the Assignments tool. You can access Sakai at the following web address:  Use your e-campus id or your 9-digit URI student number and your email password. When you log into Sakai you will see the tap labeled 2099-MTH-1080202: Topics in Mathematics. Click on the tab.