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MA 238

Differential Equations - 2018 Fall

Course Information

  • Semester: 2018 Fall
  • Title: Differential Equations
  • Section: MA 238-104
    • Tue/Thu 12:30-1:45pm
    • MSPB 360
  • Office Hours
    • MW 1:15-2:45pm and TR 1:45-3:15pm
    • MSPB 314

Course Content

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

In particular, our course standards are aligned with the following learning outcomes defined by the Association of American Colleges & Universities:

  • Convert relevant information into various mathematical forms (e.g., equations, graphs, diagrams, tables, words).
  • Solve mathematical problems


Grades in this course are determined purely based upon your mastery of the twenty-four Course Standards. Each time you successfully demonstrate mastery of a Standard by correctly solving a relevant exercise, you will earn a Mastery Mark ✓. Up to two per Standard will be awarded, plus an additional 3✓ for completing Advanced Modeling (AM) tasks, for a total of 51✓.

Letter grades are assigned based on how much content was learned by each student, measured by how many were earned.

  • A: 48✓, including 3✓ from AM
  • B: 42✓, including 1✓ from AM
  • C: 36✓
  • D: 30✓

Textbook and Resources

Much of the material for this course will be provided on this website.

Homework will be assigned from MyLabsPlus, which will be assigned as described below. The physical textbook will not be required for this course, but may be used by students for additional reference/practice.

The use of any calculator is allowed, as long as it does not support communication functionality or internet connectivity.


Teams will be organized near the beginning of the semester. All 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.

Active/Inactive Students

By default all students are considered Active in the course. However, students that fail to sufficiently participate in the course (as described below) will be designated as Inactive. Inactive students lose certain privileges (as described below).

Students may be returned to Active status by making an appointment and meeting with the instructor and discuss the issues that caused the student to fall into Inactive status. Reinstatement of Active status is at the discretion of the instructor.


Attendance will be taken daily. Generally, only absences that have been previously approved by the instructor or that are related to a medical issue (with accompanying documentation from a medical professional) will be considered excused. All excused absences must be documented via email with the instructor.

Students that accumulate two unexcused absences within a three-week period will become Inactive.

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.

Students that earn below a 70% average on an iRAT and tRAT will become Inactive.

Class Activities

Within each module, the instructor will present on several sections, each based on a Standard for the module, providing theory, formulas, and examples. At the end of each section, students will collaborate on one or more team activities similar to exercises that will be assigned for that standard. These should be completed by each team on the provided whiteboard, showing all details and uploaded to Google Drive

Students that attend class but refuse to participate in completing Activities on the whiteboard or refuse to document work in Google Drive will become Inactive.

Peer Evaluation Survey

Students will be asked to complete a Peer Evaluation Survey occasionally during the semester to evaluate their teammates. Students that fail to complete the survey or who receive negative feedback from multiple students will become Inactive.


Online homework will be assigned on MyLabsPlus throughout the semester, associated with many (not all) of the course standards as they are covered in class.

Students that have 70% progress or better on the online homework by the end of the semester will receive a bonus Mastery Mark ().

Mastery Quizzes

During most class days, Active students will be able to complete a short Mastery Quiz. Each standard covered in class will appear on up to four Mastery Quizzes, at most once a week. A schedule of which standards are covered on each quiz is available on the Calendar.

In addition, Active students will be offered two 75-minute Comprehensive Mastery Quizzes that include exercises for every standard covered in the class so far.

All submissions are due by the end of the class period. Inactive students will not receive any credit for these quizzes unless they have previously scheduled a time to meet with the instructor to discuss their status.

Quizzes are randomized and personalized for each student based upon the most recent progress report; standards that have already been completely mastered by a student will not appear on the personalized quiz.

Marking Quizzes

Each submitted solution will be marked as follows:

  • Mastery Mark ✓: The solution demonstrates complete mastery of the given standard.
  • Revision Mark ✱: The solution might demonstrate complete mastery of the given standard, but needs to be revised for clarity/accuracy.
  • 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. So, a student who earns 42 and 3 throughout the semester will earn the same grade as a student who earns 42 and 300 .

As a rule, at most one will be awarded to a student per standard per week.

Revising Solutions

A student may improve a solution marked as to by completing a Revision Form outside of class and submitting it on the date of the next assessment. A student submitting a Revision Form cannot also attempt that standard on a quiz that week.

This submission will be marked as usual, possibly earning another that the student should revise further. (Usually at most two revisions will be allowed per exercise.)

Advanced Modeling Exercises

Occassionally the instructor will assign a take-home exercise based on an Advanced Modeling (AM) exercise, worth an additional Advanced Modeling (AM) Mastery Mark . Up to three of these may be earned throughout the semester.


Office Reassessments

During office hours each week, Active students may take advantage of Office Reassessments. Students that satisfactorily meet the requirements given on the linked form will be given the opportunity to solve a new exercise on the instructor’s whiteboard that will be immediately marked.

A student receiving a in this way may not earn a second for the same standard until the following week. Only two reassessments are allowed per week.

Note that availability for this opportunity may be limited due to student demand, particularly later in the semester.

Makeup Quiz

Students that miss one or more quizzes due to an excusable absence will be allowed to complete a Makeup Quiz near the end of the semester. The Makeup Quiz is the same format as a Comprehensive Mastery Quiz, except the exercises that may be attempted are based upon which quizzes were excused.

Final Exam

The Final Exam is the same format as a Comprehensive Mastery Quiz, except that students will have 120 minutes and no revisions will be allowed.

Up to four marks earned on the Final Exam will be automatically upgraded to .

In particular, solving exercises on the Final Exam has the same benefit as solving exercises on Mastery Quizzes.

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 throughout the entire semester and will only be allowed to earn future on a limited number of scheduled quizzes and the Final Exam, which must be done by appointment in the instructor’s office. In addition, the incident will be reported to the university.

Any student who is caught cheating twice will automatically receive an F letter grade for the course.

USAOnline and USA Course Policies

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

USA’s Course Policies apply to this course.