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MA 237/238

Linear Algebra and Differential Equations - 2020 Spring

COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

The remaining content for the course will be delivered prerecorded videos uploaded to Panopto, virtual office hours, and feedback on weekly quiz attempts. Here is the weekly schedule:


You should watch the appropriate videos on USAOnline (Panopto tab) (use your Jag# with your Jagmail password) and attempt practice exercises related to the material being assessed on Thursday’s quiz (see below). MA237 students may also use the MA 237 course slides, and I’ve made my MA 238 fall lecture notes for the second half of the semester available on our shared Google Drive.

Also, a quiz covering standards from earlier in the semester is available each Tuesday (replacing office reassessments), submitted on Gradescope. You may attempt any of these, but you are required to upload photos of work on 5 exercises from https://masterit.clontz.org for each standard you attempt. Your options for this quiz are outlined in your course calendar.


I will hold virtual office hours via Google Meet on Wednesdays 9am-4pm and 9pm-10pm at this link: https://meet.google.com/ddp-mwmo-hgj. Please log in using your Jagmail account. This is your chance to follow up with the prerecorded videos with questions, or show me your attempts at solving the practice exercises.

If you have trouble connecting via that link and would prefer to use Zoom, email me and we’ll set it up.


Each Thursday, a quiz covering newer standards will become available to view/download/print. Using the printout or any other paper, you will write full solutions for each exercise, photograph your work, and upload to Gradescope before the end of the day. Your course calendar lists which standards are included on each quiz.

Info on grading

For all submissions, I will give minimal feedback on the first pass to get results back to you as quickly as possible; if possible, you should try to figure out specific mistakes for yourself to help you learn from them. However, you may use the “Regrade Request” feature on any of your submissions for me to provide more detailed feedback (or ask for feedback during office hours).

Revising submissions

Submissions marked as revisable with a star (on both Tues/Thurs quizzes) may be revised by sending me an email with a photograph of your revision. Please include all the information asked on the Revision Form.


Final grades will be reported according to the original syllabus. Note that this semester you have the option to convert A/B/C grades to S, and D/F grades to U. S/U grades do not affect your GPA, but S grades count as passing the course.


All enrolled students are considered “Active” for the remainder of the semester.


I will send emails each Monday with updates.

Progress Reports

I’ve shared a Google Drive spreadsheet with each student that is periodically synced to my gradebook for progress reporting. Log into Google Drive with your Jagmail to view it.

Course Calendars

Original Syllabus

Course Information

  • Semester: 2020 Spring
  • Instructor: Dr. Steven Clontz
  • Sections:
    • MA 237-104 Linear Algebra
      • TR 9:30am-10:45am
      • MSPB 360
    • MA 237-105 Linear Algebra
      • TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
      • MSPB 360
    • MA 238-104 Differential Equations
      • TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
      • MSPB 360
  • Office Hours
    • W 9:30am-3:30pm
    • MSPB 314

Textbook and Resources

All required material for this course will be provided on the course website or uploaded to Google Drive.

The textbook carried in the univeristy bookstore will not be required.

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

MA237 calculator

Linear algebra students will greatly benefit from a calculator that has an RREF function supporting matrices as large as \(6\times 6\).


Grades in this course are determined based upon your mastery of the Course Standards. Each time you successfully demonstrate mastery of a Standard by correctly completing a relevant task, you will earn a Mastery Mark ✓. Up to two per Standard may be earned from in-class exercises, and one per Standard is available for at-home projects.

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

  • MA237 Linear Algebra (out of 48 possible)
    • A: 45✓
    • B: 40✓
    • C: 35✓
    • D: 30✓
  • MA238 Differential Equations (out of 40 possible)
    • A: 38✓
    • B: 34✓
    • C: 30✓
    • D: 26✓

Student Data

Grade data will be provided to students via regular printed progress reports. Students are also highly encouraged to opt-in to using the Gradescope platform to receive instant notficiation of assignment results via email and the web.

Active/Inactive Students

By default all students are considered Active in the course. However, students that meet any of the following criteria may be designated as Inactive:

  • Accumulating two unexcused absences within three weeks of each other.
  • Failing a Readiness Quiz.
  • Receiving excessive negative feedback (more than one standard deviation lower than the mean) on a Peer Evaluation Survey (or neglecting to complete it).

When a student becomes Inactive, they will receive an email from the instructor requesting an appointment. At this appointment the student will make an agreement with the instructor to address the issues that caused the Inactive status, and will return to Active status provided this agreement is kept.


Teams will be organized near the beginning of the semester. Much of our class meetings will be spent in teams completing activities related to the material, 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.

If any student from the class submits a request to the instructor by email to do so, a Peer Evaluation Survey will be conducted to allow teammates to provide anonymous feedback to each other.


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.

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 Quiz, first individually and then as a team. High scores reflect sufficient preparedness for the module, while low scores demonstrate a need for further review. A 70% average of both quizzes is required to pass this quiz.

Class Activities

Frequently, teams will be required to complete various activities. When these involve writing out a full solution on a whiteboard, teams should photograph and upload this work to Google Drive.

Mastery Quizzes

During most class days, Active students will be able to complete a short Mastery Quiz. (Submissions by Inactive students will not be counted.) A schedule of which standards are covered on each quiz is available on the Calendar; generally, each standard appears 3 times before it is rotated off the daily quiz schedule.

In addition, all students will be offered two 75-minute Comprehensive Mastery Quizzes and a 120-minute Final Exam that include exercises for every standard covered in the class to that date. Inactive students can receive credit for these.

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 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 affect 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 35 and 3 throughout the semester will earn the same grade as a student who earns 35 and 300 .

Once a standard has been “mastered” (both have been earned), there is no need to complete another exercise of that type.

Revising Solutions

On any assessment besides the final exam, a student may improve a solution marked as to by completing a Revision Form outside of class and promptly submitting it in class, usually the following Tuesday.

This submission will be marked as usual, with at most one additional re-revision allowed in the case of a very minor mistake.

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 to earn .

Note that availability for this opportunity may be limited due to student demand, particularly later in the semester, so it’s best to take advantage of this early.

Missed Quizzes

Students that miss one or more quizzes due to excused absences may request additional time on a Comprehensive Mastery Quiz or the Final Exam.

Take-Home Projects (MA238)

Some differential equations standards are too involved to be assessed on timed daily quizzes. Instead, each student will complete a take-home project based on that topic. Each project will have one or more submission deadlines; after each deadline, the instructor will mark the submitted project with , , or . If a is not awarded, the student may revise and resubmit the same project at the next submission deadline. Even once all submission deadlines have passed, any project may be submitted for credit at the final exam.

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. Instead, up to three marks earned on the Final Exam will be automatically upgraded to .

In particular, demonstrating mastery on the Final Exam has the same benefit as demonstrating mastery on Mastery Quizzes throughout the semester, so students who keep up with the material throughout the semester will have a shorter final than students who attempt to cram everything in at the last minute.

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, will become permanently Inactive in the course, and will have to take the remaining assessments 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. USA’s Course Policies apply to this course.