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MA 237

Linear Algebra - 2018 Spring

Course Information

  • Semester: Spring 2018
  • Title: Linear Algebra
  • Sections:
    • MA 237-101
      • Mon/Wed/Fri 9:05am-9:55am
      • MSPB 360
    • MA 237-102
      • Mon/Wed/Fri 11:15am-12:05pm
      • MSPB 360
    • MA 237-103
      • Mon/Wed/Fri 2:30pm-3:20pm
      • MSPB 360
  • Office Hours (MSPB 314)
    • Mon/Wed 10:05am-11:05am
    • Mon/Wed 12:20pm-2:20pm
    • Thu 9:30am-3:30pm

Course Content

The course is split into six Modules, each of which is split into several Standards of learning. These are listed on the course Standards page.


Grades in this course are determined based upon your mastery of the twenty-five Course Standards. Each time you successfully demonstrate mastery of a Standard by correctly solving a relevant exercise, you will earn a . Up to two per Standard will be awarded, for a total of 50✓. An additional 3✓ may be earned by solving Theory/Application Exercises.

Letter grades are assigned based on how many are earned by a student.

  • A: 48✓.
  • B: 42✓.
  • C: 36✓.
  • D: 30✓.

An unofficial grade of A+ will be awarded to students who earn 53✓. The university does not maintain records of grades higher than A, but the instructor will use this data if asked (e.g.) for a written recommendation.

Textbook and Resources

Much of the material for this course will be provided on this website. Homework will be recommended from Linear Algebra with Applications (2nd ed) by Jeffrey Holt, but students may choose to complete homework from other sources instead (the first edition, another textbook, the internet, old quizzes, etc.).

All students are highly encouraged to acquire a calculator that supports matrix manipulations (row reduction, multiplication, etc.). There are several cheap/free smart device apps that can provide this functionality while studying, but unfortunately only a dedicated calculator without communication functionality and without internet connectivity may be used during assessments.


Teams will be organized near the beginning of the semester. Most class activities will be done within teams, allowing students to master the course standards in an environment where they may discuss topics and ask questions freely with their peers and the instructor.

Class Activities

On a typical day of class, each team will be seated at a table with a computer station and whiteboard. The instructor will provide slides that may be viewed at each station. Students will work through the material covered on these slides within their teams, with the support of the instructor as needed.

Slides describing Activities should be completed by each team on the provided whiteboard. All details must be shown on the whiteboard (not on personal notes or scratch paper), and the Activity’s number should also be marked. Each completed activity will be photographed and uploaded to a Google Drive folder provided by the instructor, to serve as notes for that team (including students that were absent that day).

Readiness Assurance

Before each module of the course, students are given a list of materials for review. Readiness for that module will be assessed on a Readiness Assurance Test, first individually (iRAT), and then as a team (tRAT). High scores reflect sufficient preparedness for the module, while low scores demonstrate a need for further review.

Mastery Quizzes

Beginning with the second Friday of classes, each Friday is set aside for a weekly Mastery Quiz. Every student will receive a personalized quiz generated based on their most recent progress report. This generated quiz will include one exercise for every course Standard covered in class for which the student can earn a by demonstrating mastery. All submissions are due by the end of the class period.

When possible, the full class period will be set aside for these quizzes. However, up to 25 minutes of Friday classes may be used to wrap up coverage of material, leaving at least 25 minutes for the Mastery Quiz.

Marking Quizzes

Each submitted solution will be marked as follows:

  • (“checkmark” or “mastery” mark): The solution demonstrates complete mastery of the given standard.
  • (“star” or “revision” mark): The solution might demonstrate complete mastery of the given standard, but needs to be revised for clarity/accuracy.
  • (“caution” or “issues” mark): The solution demonstrates partial understanding of the given standard, but has one or more issues that suggest that further study is required to develop complete mastery.
  • : The solution demonstrates negligible understanding of the given standard.

Only contribute to improving a student’s letter grade for the course; all other accumulated marks will be ignored at the end of the semester.

Revising Solutions

A student may improve a solution marked as to by completing a Revision Form outside of class and submitting it on the upcoming Friday as one of their ten Mastery Quiz submissions. This submission will be marked as usual, but the student may not also attempt the exercise for the matching standard on the Mastery Quiz.

Appealing Marks

In the rare case of a solution erroneously marked as or rather than , the affected student may complete an Appeal Form outside of class and submitting it on the upcoming Friday as one of their ten Mastery Quiz submissions. If the reason for the appeal is accepted, this submission will be marked as usual; otherwise the submission will not be marked. The student may not also attempt the exercise for the matching standard on the Mastery Quiz.

In the extremely rare case of a solution erroneously marked as ✱/⚠/✘ rather than , the student may simply show the solution to the instructor; if no mistakes can be found in the original submission, the will be awarded automatically.

Office Reassessments

During Wednesday office hours, each student may submit up to two Office Reassessment Forms. Students that satisfactorily meet the requirements given on this form will be given the opportunity to solve a new exercise that will be immediately marked as usual. A student receiving a in this way may not also attempt the same standard on that week’s Mastery Quiz.

Unless an exception is granted by the instructor, this privilege is not offered on any other day, but students are encouraged to meet with the instructor during Monday office hours to discuss course content.

Theory/Application Questions

During each Mastery Quiz, each student will have the opportunity to solve a Theory/Application Exercise to demonstrate how to apply the course material to solve new problems, and is marked similarly to other exercises:

  • : The solution demonstrates complete mastery of how to apply course concepts to the given exercise.
  • : The solution demonstrates partial understanding of how to apply course concepts to the given exercise, but needs to be revised to demonstrate mastery.
  • : The solution references some of the relevant concepts covered in class, but does not demonstrate satisfactory understanding of how to apply them to solve the given exercise.
  • : The solution demonstrates negligible understanding of the relevant concepts covered in class or how to apply them to the given exercise.

These may be similarly revised and appealed as other solutions, but cannot be attempted in office hours.

Final Exam

The Final Exam has the exact same structure as the Mastery Quizzes, with the following exceptions:

  • Students have 120 minutes.
  • Two Theory/Application Exercises are available. Students may submit solutions for both.
  • Solutions from the last Mastery Quiz marked as are returned for revision during the exam; they must be revised during the exam period. Other solutions from the last Mastery Quiz may not be appealed.
  • Up to five (including at most one Theory/Application ) will be automatically improved to . Further marks cannot be improved.

Makeup Policy

Since any missed exercises may be completely made up on future assessments, make-up Mastery Quizzes are not available. However, a student may request for additional time and responses on the Final Exam if they can demonstrate that their progress has been limited by multiple excusable absences throughout the semester. Documentation from a medical professional or university official asking the instructor to excuse an absence is usually required for this purpose.

Data Collection

The instructor may also collect the following data to evaluate student participation and the effectiveness of the course.

  • Attendance
  • iRAT/tRAT results
  • Quality of team responses to class activities uploaded to Google Drive
  • Peer evaluation survey feedback
  • Variance of student performance within each team
  • Collegiality of student interactions during class

This data will not be directly used in assigning letter grades for the course, but students who have good attendance, score well on readiness tests, get long with their peers, and so on tend to do well in the course anyway. This data will also be used by the instructor if (e.g.) a written recommendation is requested by a student.

Note also that purposeful negligence with regards to the above (except attendance) will be treated as disruptive academic behavior and will be addressed as such. (Refer to USA’s Course Policies for more details.)

Academic Honesty

Academic Honesty is defined in USA’s Student Academic Conduct Policy. Any student who is caught cheating will immediately lose credit for all earned , either for the relevant standard(s) or the whole semester as appropriate. In addition, the incident will be reported to the university, and the student may be required to take future assessments during office hours.

USAOnline and USA Course Policies

The official syllabus for this course is available on USAOnline. Grade data will be provided to students via weekly printed progress reports.

USA’s Course Policies apply to this course.