Course Content and Outcome Guide for MTH 91 Effective Summer 2015

Course Number:
MTH 91
Course Title:
Intermediate Algebra Part I
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Explores functions graphically and symbolically with an emphasis on function notation. Investigates functions, equations and graphs involving linear rational, and absolute value expressions. Integrates technology throughout. Graphing calculator required. TI-89 Titanium or Casio Classpad 330 recommended. Must take both MTH 91 and MTH 92 to satisfy MTH 95 requirements. Prerequisites: MTH 63, MTH 65 or MTH 70 and placement into WR 115. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

1. Use linear and rational models in academic and non-academic environments.
2. Recognize connections between graphical and algebraic representations in academic and non-academic settings.
3. Interpret graphs in academic and non-academic contexts.
4. Be prepared for future coursework that requires the use of algebraic concepts and an understanding of functions.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

 Assessment shall include:

  1.  The following topics must be assessed in a closed-book, no-note, no-calculator setting:
    1. finding the equation of the linear function given two ordered pairs stated using function notation
    2. simplifying rational expressions
    3. solving rational equations
    4. determining the domain of rational functions
    5. evaluating algebraic expressions that include function notation
  2. At least two proctored closed-book, no-note examinations, one of which is the comprehensive final. These exams must consist primarily of free response questions although a limited number of multiple choice and/or fill in the blank questions may be used where appropriate.
  3. Assessment must include evaluation of the student€™s ability to arrive at correct and appropriate conclusions using proper mathematical procedures and proper mathematical notation. Additionally, each student must be assessed on their ability to use appropriate organizational strategies and their ability to write conclusions appropriate to the problem.
  4. At least two of the following additional measures:
    1. graded homework
    2. quizzes
    3. group projects
    4. individual projects
    5. in-class activities
  5. Optional additional measures may include:
    1. attendance
    2. portfolios
    3. individual student conferences
    4. in-class participation

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  1. Functions and function notation
  2. Functions represented as graphs, tables, equations and in words
  3. Connection between symbolic and graphical representations
  4. Algebraic simplification of expressions and solving of equations
  5. Problem solving and modeling, interpreting results in practical terms
  6. Language of graphs



1.     Calculator (integrated throughout the course)

1.1. Use the home screen carry out arithmetic operations

1.2. Use the calculator's table feature to explore functions

1.3. Graph functions

1.3.1.     Input the appropriate window settings to view the graph

1.3.2.     Use calculation tools         Value         Zero         Intersect

1.4. Understand that the calculator has limitations

2.     Functions

2.1.         Understand and apply the definition of function

2.2.         Determine whether one quantity is a function of another algebraically, graphically, numerically and within real life contexts by applying the definition of a function

2.3. Domain

2.3.1.     Understand the definition of domain (the set of all possible inputs)

2.3.2.     Determine the domain of functions represented graphically, algebraically, numerically and verbally

2.3.3.     Represent the domain in both interval and set notation, where appropriate

2.3.4.     Apply unions and intersections (€œand€ and €œor€) when finding and stating the domain of functions

2.3.5.     Understand how the context of a function used as a model can limit the domain

2.4. Range

2.4.1.     Understand the definition of range (set of all possible outputs)

2.4.2.     Determine the range of functions represented graphically, numerically and verbally

2.4.3.     Represent the range in interval and set notation, where appropriate

2.5. Function notation

2.5.1.     Evaluate functions with given inputs using function notation where functions are represented graphically, algebraically, numerically and verbally (e.g. evaluate f( 7 ) )

2.5.2.     Algebraically simplify and distinguish between different examples such as f( x+2 ) , f( x )+2 , 3f( x )  and f( 3x )

2.5.3.     Interpret f( a )=b  in the appropriate context e.g. interpret  f( 3 )=5 where f  models a real-world function

2.5.4.     Solve function inequalities algebraically (i.e. f( x )>b , f( x )>g( x ) , and a<f( x )<b where f and g are linear functions and  f( x )>b and f( x )<b where f is an absolute value function)

2.5.5.     Solve function inequalities graphically (i.e. f( x )>b , f( x )>g( x ) , and a<f( x )<b where f and g should include but not be limited to linear functions, and f( x )>b for quadratic and absolute value functions)

2.5.6.     Solve function inequalities graphically (i.e. f( x )>b , f( x )>g( x ) , and a<f( x )<b  where f  and g  should include but not be limited to linear functions and absolute value functions)

2.6. Graphs of functions

2.6.1.     Use the language of graphs and understand how to present answers to questions based on the graph (i.e. read the  x value of an intersection to solve an equation and understand that  f( 2 ) is a number not a point)

2.6.2.     Determine function values, solve equations and inequalities, and find domain and range given a graph

2.7.         Apply function notation to prerequisite skill of finding linear equations given two ordered pairs

3.     Rational Functions

3.1. Determine the domain of rational functions algebraically and graphically

3.2.         Simplify rational functions, understanding that domain conditions lost during simplification MUST be noted

3.3. Rewrite rational expressions by

3.3.1.     Canceling factors common to the numerator and denominator

3.3.2.     Multiplying

3.3.3.     Dividing using both   a b   c d and a b ÷ c d notation         Simplify the following cases where a , b , c , d represent real numbers, linear polynomials or quadratic polynomials:  a   b c   ,   a b   c and   a b   c d . (See addendum)

3.3.4.     Adding

3.3.5.     Subtracting

3.3.6.     Simplifying complex rational expressions         The following forms of complex rational expressions shall be simplified: a   b c + d e   ,   b c + d e   a ,   a b + c d   e f ,   a b     c d + e f   where a , b , c , d , e , and  f represent real numbers, linear polynomials in one variable, or quadratic polynomials in one variable. (See addendum.)

3.4. Solve rational equations

3.4.1.     Check solutions algebraically


  • Functions should be studied symbolically, graphically, numerically and verbally.
  • As much as possible, instructors should present functions that model real-world problems and relationships to address the content outlined on this CCOG.
  • Function notation is emphasized and should be used whenever it is appropriate in the course.
  • Students should be required to use proper mathematical language and notation. This includes using equal signs appropriately, labeling and scaling the axes of graphs appropriately, using correct units throughout the problem solving process, conveying answers in complete sentences when appropriate, and in general, using the required symbols correctly.
  • Students should understand the fundamental differences between expressions and equations including their definitions and proper notations.
  • All mathematical work should be organized so that it is clear and obvious what techniques the student employed to find his answer. Showing scratch work in the middle of a problem is not acceptable.
  • Since technology is used throughout the course, there is a required calculator packet for students that gives directions for several graphing calculators. The students should understand the limitations of calculator€”i.e. when the calculator gives misleading information. Examples of the calculator€™s limitations include the following: when finding horizontal intercepts, the calculator sometimes gives something like y = 3E-13; the calculator rounds to 12 or fewer decimal places; some calculators appear to show vertical asymptotes on the graphs of rational functions; it appears that the graph of  y= 1 x 2 touches the x axis; the calculator does not show holes on rational function graphs; the calculator cannot handle very large numbers, e.g.  10 1000 =ˆž etc.
  • For dividing rational expressions as in 3.3.3 and, focus on examples where the letters represent real numbers and linear polynomials. E.g.   3 x   5 ,  xˆ’2  x 5 , and 3x 4   x xˆ’4  
  • As much as possible, instructors should present functions that model real-world problems and relationships to address the content outlined on this CCOG.
  • For simplifying complex rational expressions as in, a major emphasis shall be placed on cases where a , b , c , d , e , and  f (as above) represent real numbers, linear polynomials in one variable. For example,   1 x + 1 x+2   5 or 2 3   1 x + 5 2   would be good examples.