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NSU - Norfolk State University
MTH 103 : Syllabus
Phone:   (757) 823-8820 Office:   Suite B-168 Brown Memorial Hall

Math Website

Contemporary Mathematics

This is a one-semester, liberal arts mathematics course that satisfies the minimum general education mathematics requirement. The course emphasizes global, unifying ideas in mathematics and stresses the connections between contemporary mathematics and modern society. Topics are selected from elementary mathematics, logic, probability and statistics, discrete systems, geometry, measurement, and consumer applications.


Completion of MTH 101 with a minimum of “C” or Placement Test

Again, this course is a part of the general education core requirements at Norfolk State University (NSU) which provide the foundation for the Academy’s mission to increase in students the knowledge, qualities and attitudes necessary to become productive citizens who contribute to a globally and rapidly changing society. Through this course, it is the goal of the Department of Mathematics at NSU to aid students in the liberal arts in mastering basic mathematical skills, and enhancing their quantitative reasoning/critical thinking skills. Thus, the applications and emphases will occur within the following four contexts:

  • Numeric or arithmetic
  • Conceptual
  • Geometric
  • Data representation and chance element
More importantly, successful completion of this course will assist students in developing the proficiency needed to do well on such tests as the Praxis I: Pre-Professional Mathematics Skills Test (PPST®), the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA™), and/or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE®) General Test of Quantitative Reasoning. These tests serve as gateways for admission into the School of Education, certification to teach public school in Virginia, and/ or admission to graduate study.

The following are the major goals to be achieved by students taking this course:

  • Increase quantitative reasoning/ literacy skills needed for informed citizenship, advancement, and strategic problem solving
  • Develop an understanding about the fundamentals of probability and statistics as well as understand how these numbers are used to make decisions
  • Gain an appreciation for the importance of financial health, investing, and real estate
  • Develop an understanding of the fundamentals of measurement and geometry for the purpose of improving proficiency on standardized tests
  • Build a repertoire of problem solving strategies such as the use Venn diagrams, proportional reasoning, and logic for improved reasoning ability
  • Improve ability to analyze and interpret graphic representations of information for decision making and improving proficiency on standardized tests

At the completion of this course, students should be able to:
  1. Express a fraction as a percent.
  2. Express a decimal as a percent.
  3. Express a percent as a decimal.
  4. Use the percent formula.
  5. Solve applied problems involving percents.
  6. Calculate simple interest.
  7. Use the future value formula.
  8. Use the simple interest formula on a discounted loan.
  9. Use compound interest formulas.
  10. Calculate present value.
  11. Understand and compute effective annual yield.
  12. Identify and use inductive reasoning with an emphasis on discovering patterns.
  13. Identify and use deductive reasoning.
  14. Use estimation techniques to arrive at an approximate answer to a problem.
  15. Apply estimation techniques to information given by graphs.
  16. Solve problems with numeric, algebraic, geometric, conceptual, statistical, and chance contexts using the four-step problem solving process.
  17. Identify and use the appropriate symbols when writing in set notation.
  18. Determine a set’s cardinal number.
  19. Identify equal and equivalent sets.
  20. Use Venn Diagrams to visualize set relationships with an emphasis on a survey’s results and answer questions about the survey.
  21. Perform operations with sets.
  22. Evaluate an exponential expression.
  23. Find ratios.
  24. Solve problems using proportional reasoning.
  25. Demonstrate quantitative literacy in the U.S. Customary and metric systems of measurement.
  26. Convert from one unit to another within the same or different systems using dimensional analysis.
  27. Use appropriate units for making measurements.
  28. Read a calibrated scale or measurement tool such as a ruler or protractor.
  29. Determine measurements needed to solve a problem.
  30. Identify and use geometric concepts in making linear, area, and volume measurements.
  31. Solve measurement problems by using a formula, proportional reasoning, or nonstandard unit.
  32. Identify and use geometric properties and relationships in both pure and real-world situations such as determining a distance using the Pythagorean relationship.
  33. Use the Fundamental Counting Principle the number of possible outcomes in a given situation.
  34. Evaluate factorial expressions.
  35. Distinguish between permutation and combination problems.
  36. Solve problems using the permutations and combinations formulas.
  37. Compute and compare theoretical and empirical probabilities.
  38. Compute probabilities with the Fundamental Counting Principle, permutations, and combinations.
  39. Find the probability that an event will not occur.
  40. Compute probabilities of compound events.
  41. Use and compute odds.
  42. Compute conditional probabilities.
  43. Compute expected values.
  44. Identify trends and deceptions in visual displays of data.
  45. Organize and present data.
  46. Select an appropriate sampling technique.
  47. Calculate, compare, and select the best measure of central tendency given a data set.
  48. Determine the range and standard deviation for a data set.
  49. Recognize the characteristics of a normal distribution.
  50. Define the empirical rule within the context of a real-world situation.
  51. Make a scatter plot given a table of data points.
  52. Interpret information given a scatter plot.
  53. Write the equation of the regression line.
  54. Predict values for the dependent variable using the regression line.


  • Mathematical Ideas (11th Ed.) by Miller, Heeren, and Hornsby
  • Scientific calculator
  • Notebook or folder

1.1/1.2Reasoning in Numeric/ Conceptual Contexts:
Solving Problems by Inductive Reasoning
1.3Problem Solving Strategies
Problem Solving Strategies
1.4Calculating, Estimating, and Reading Graphs
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/ Reinforce/Quiz)
2.1Introduction to Set Theory
2.2Venn Diagrams and Subsets
2.3Set Operation
2.4Cardinal Numbers and Surveys
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/Reinforce/Quiz)
7.3Ratio, Proportion and Variation
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/Reinforce/Quiz)
Test 1
14.1The Time Value of Money
14.2/14.3Consumer Credit and Truth in Leading*
14.4Purchasing a Home
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/Reinforce/Quiz)
Test 2 (Midterm)
9.1Reasoning in a Geometric Context:
Points, Lines, Planes, and Angles
9.2Curves, Polygons, and Circles
9.3Perimeter, Area, and Circumference
9.4The Geometry of Triangles
9.5Space Figures, Volume, and Surface area
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/Reinforce/Quiz)
A-1The Metric and American Systems of Measurement
The Metric and American Systems of Measurement
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/Reinforce/Quiz)
Test 3
11.1-11.3 Reasoning in data representation and Chance contexts:
The Fundamental counting Principle; Permutations; Combinations
12.1Fundamentals of Probability
12.2Events involving Not and Or; Odds
12.3Events involving and; Conditional Probability
12.5Expected Value
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/Reinforce/Quiz)
13.1Sampling, Frequency Distrubutions, Graphs
13.2Measures of Central Tendency
13.3Measures of Dispersion
13.5Applying the 68-95-99.7 Rule
13.6Scatter Plots and Regression Lines
Cooperative Learning Activity (Review/Reinforce/Quiz)
Test 4
 Final Exam Review
 Final Exam Review

Final grades will be determined as follows:

A Minimum of 4 Tests:40%
Quizzes and Projects: 20%
Online Practice Tests and Homework Sets: 20%
Final Exam:20%

Grading Scale
A : 100-90 B : 89-80 C : 79-70 D : 69-60 F : Below 60
  1. Each student must obtain the appropriate textbook/materials and attend all lectures.
  2. Each student must complete 7 of 9 possible homework assignments online.
  3. An 70% mastery level is required per homework set with the exception of the first assignment.
  4. The student should complete the related homework assignments successfully before the in-class tests.
  5. Each student must complete at least 3 of 4 practice tests online.
  6. A 70% mastery level is required per test.
  7. The student should also the practice tests successfully before taking the related in-class test.
  8. Each student must complete all assignments in a timely manner.


  1. Purchase your textbook and Student Access Kit.
  2. Write down the Course ID number that will be provided by your instructor in-class.
  3. Register online at using the register button for students and following the on-screen instructions.
  4. Then follow the step-by-step guide for logging in and beginning your homework in MyMathLab. Be sure to download all plug-ins before you attempt your assignments.


  1. Students must have Internet access.
  2. Students must purchase a text that with the MyMathLab Student Access Kit or purchase a code separately in the book store.
  3. Students who are completing on-line homework assignments from locations off-campus must use computers that
    • Have Windows 2000,XP, Macintosh 9.2, OS X Version 10.1, or 10.2 as an operating system.
    • Have a minimum Internet connection speed of 28.8 kbps (kilobits per second) and either Microsoft Internet Explorer (Version 5.x up to Version 6.0) or Netscape Navigator 7.0 as the browser.
    • Have the following plug-ins downloaded: Adobe Reader, Macromedia Flash, Macromedia Shockwave Player, Apple QuickTime, and RealNetworks RealOne Player.

Please consult the NSU Student Handbook on matters regarding student conduct such as attendance, illness, off-campus trips, and grade appeals, etc.

The College of Science, Engineering and Technology provides tutoring services through the STARS Tutoring Center for those NSU students who may be experiencing difficulties in Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, Technology and Physics courses. The STARS office is located in RTC, Suite 100. This service is free of charge and provided to NSU students only. Visit the site at

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans With Disabilites Act (ADA) of 1990, if you have a disability or think you have a disability, we ask that you please contact the Supporting Students through Disability Services (SSDS) office.
LOCATION: Student Services Center Room 110D
CONTACT PERSON: Marian E. Shepherd - Disability Services Coordinator SSDS
TELEPHONE: (757) 823-2014

As part of NSU's commitment to provide the environment and resources needed for success, students may be required to participate in a number of university-wide assessment activities. The activities may include tests, surveys, focus groups and interviews, and portfolio reviews. The primary purpose of the assessment activities is to determine the extent to which the university's programs and services maintain a high level of quality and meet the needs of students. Students will not be identified in the analysis of results. Unless indicated otherwise, by the instructor, results from University assessment activities will not be computed in student grades.

Class Attendance Policy
  • A student is expected to attend all classes. The student assumes all responsibility for work missed due to an absence. Make-up work may be permitted at the discretion of the instructor. Refer to the NSU Student Handbook ( for further details.

  • NSU email Accounts
  • In an effort to keep students informed about Norfolk State University updates and account information, students must check their official NSU student email account frequently.
    You may access your official NSU email account at Follow instructions on the NSU-webmail login page.

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