Welcome to MA 109!

  Fall 2020 edition

College Algebra at the University of Kentucky

Course Description

MA 109 is a 3 credit hour class taught by several instructors in several sections. For office hours, meeting times, and contact information, please see the tables below.


College Algebra covers selected topics in algebra, such as a review of grade school algebra, quadratic formula, systems of linear equations, introduction to functions and graphing. Please see this more detailed schedule. In particular, we will cover solving equations (linear, quadratic, power, radical, and absolute value equations, as well as equations mentioning the unknown only once), graphing on the Cartesian coordinate system (with special emphasis on lines, their slope, perpendicular and parallel lines), solving systems of equations (with substitution and elimination, both linear and non-linear), using technology (such as graphing calculators and numerical root finders), solving applied problems, inequalities, and general functions, with special emphasis on exponential, logarithmic, polynomial, and rational functions.

Course Bulletin

The Course Bulletin describes this 3 credit hour course as:

Selected topics in algebra. Develops manipulative algebraic skills and mathematical reasoning required for further study in mathematics and use in mathematical modeling. Includes brief review of basic algebra, quadratic formula, systems of linear equations, introduction to functions and graphing. This course is not available for credit to persons who have received credit in any mathematics course of a higher number with the exceptions of MA 111, 112, 123, 162, 201 and 202. Credit not available on the basis of special examination. Prereq: Two years of high school algebra and a Math ACT score of 21 or above or a Math SAT score of 510 or above or a Math SAT2016 score of 540 or above; or UK 096; or appropriate MathIndex; or grade of B or better in MA 111. Math placement test recommended.

Learning Outcomes and Course Goals

The goal of this course is to prepare you to use the basic tools of algebra to manipulate both known and unknown numerical quantities. By succeeding in this course, you should be prepared to study elementary calculus (as presented in MA 123) as well as being able to understand and work with mathematical models in your other course work.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Recognize reasonable answers based on number sense and the algebraic relations that must be satisfied by solutions.
  2. Recognize and operate with covariational and functional relationships between quantities
  3. Read and express those relationships as implicit equations, explicit (functional) equations, graphs, tables of values, and verbal descriptions
  4. Manipulate implicit and explicit equations to solve for a chosen variable, or recast a functional relationship in terms of a chosen independent quantity.
  5. Use algebraic techniques to solve applied and modelling problems in restricted settings appropriate for a general mathematics course
  6. Analyze and evaluate sample arguments and solutions for correctness and reasonableness
  7. Analyze limitations of models, especially in terms of piecewise functions and domain restrictions
  8. Use appropriate technology to understand and solve problems

Course Calendar

The TENTATIVE course calendar is available here as a pdf.

MWF Calendar

TR Calendar


It is very important to keep up with your class and to inform your instructor as early as possible of any problems or concerns. Many instructors have multiple hundreds of students, and so there may be delays or special requirements needed to handle what may appear to be simple problems. On the other hand our instructors are highly trained professionals and may be able to help you solve what seem like insurmountable challenges. In either case, the more time the instructor has to consider your case, the more likely you are to have a good result.

Instructors hold drop-in office hours at the times and places listed below. You can stop by to ask questions about the course material or structure. Most instructors also are available in the Mathskeller where you can ask them (or any other instructor present) for help in the course.

Instructor Email
Melanie Brooks melanie.brooks@uky.edu
Jonathan Clark jon.clark@uky.edu
Kathy Effinger kathy.effinger9@gmail.com
Courtney George courtney.george@uky.edu
Casey Hill casey.hill@uky.edu
Charlene Norman cnorman12@live.com
Katherine Paullin katherine.paullin@uky.edu
Zachery Peterson Zachery.Peterson@uky.edu
Carson Price carson.price@uky.edu
Noah Speeter Noah.Speeter@uky.edu
Chloe Wawrzyniak ChloeUWawrzyniak@uky.edu
erica Whitaker ewhitaker@uky.edu
Jay White jay.white@uky.edu



Active, engaged class participation is required in all sections. Make sure you know when and where your class meets and make sure to bring appropriate materials to class (a way to view the textbook, a place to take notes, any calculator you want to practice using). Your active, engaged class participation is a major component of your final grade.

Section Instructor Room Time
002 Katherine Paullin LAW 291 MWF 9:00am-9:50am
003 Jonathan Clark online TBD
004 Katherine Paullin EH 203 MWF 11:00am-11:50am
005 Jonathan Clark online TBD
006 Chloe Wawrzyniak CB 212 MWF 1:00pm-1:50pm
007 Chloe Wawrzyniak BS 116 MWF 2:00pm-2:50pm
008 Noah Speeter CB 201 MWF 2:00pm-2:50pm
009 Melanie Brooks FB 200 TR 8:00am-9:15am
010 Charlene Norman BE 283 TR 9:30am-10:45am
012 Jay White BE 291 TR 11:00am-12:15pm
013 erica Whitaker BE 283 TR 11:00am-12:15pm
014 Kathy Effinger BE 291 TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
015 erica Whitaker BE 283 TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
016 Carson Price BE 299 TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
019 Casey Hill CB 207 TR 11:00am-12:15pm
020 Casey Hill CB 209 TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
022 Zachery Peterson BE 291 TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
023 Chloe Wawrzyniak SC A212A MWF 9:00am-9:50am
Courtney George LAW 299 TR 9:30am-10:20am
024 Chloe Wawrzyniak SC A212A MWF 9:00am-9:50am
Courtney George LAW 291 TR 11:00am-11:50am
201 Jonathan Clark online TBD
601 Katherine Paullin, Tyler Waters STEAM Academy MWF 10:00am-10:50am
602 Katherine Paullin, Tracey Ruble Somerset High School MWF 10:00am-10:50am
603 Katherine Paullin TBD MWF 10:00am-10:50am


The textbook College Algebra, by Jay Abramson and other contributors at OpenStax serves as an important reference work for the course. This textbook is available for free online, or printed for around $50 to $60.


Technology such as calculators can be very helpful for exploring mathematics. A simple ($10 to $30) calculator with powers and logs may be needed for some exam questions.

Using the calculator during a test for any reason other than performing the required calculations (for example, to recall a previously stored formula) will be considered cheating. You may use any graphing calculator that is allowed by ACT. Note that you will not be allowed to use the calculator on a cell phone, or any other communication device. Furthermore, you may not use any calculator that has a computer algebra system (CAS) or a QWERTY keyboard. In particular, you may not use the TI-Nspire CAS, any TI-89, any TI-92, the HP 48GII, any HP 40G, any HP 49G, any HP 50G, the Casio Algebra fx 2.0, the Casio ClassPad 300, the Casio ClassPad 330, or any Casio CFX-9970G.

A graphing calculator can be helpful for parts of the course. A standard choice is the TI-84 ($75 to $125). Most graphing calculators have the same basic functions, and you should be able to learn about your calculator by reading the manual. A free online graphing calculator such as Desmos may be easier and cheaper to use while still providing all the conceptual benefits, however it cannot be used on exams, so one should be familiar with whatever sort of calculator one decides to use. Exams require a scientific calculator (powers, e, log; TI-30 series, $10 to $30), or graphing calculator.

Expectations for Student Work

For any written solutions to problems in this course, students are expected to submit work that is clear, legible, and well-written. Students should show all their work in an organized manner, using complete sentences to explain their solutions and justify their computations.

Study Advice and Getting Help

The textbook and your instructor's office hours are invaluable sources of information. You may also find the following useful for studying:

Practice exams

Warning: The order of topics has changed significantly, so older exams (prior to Fall 2018) may not be as useful. They are available on request, but are not recommended for current students.

Spring 2020 Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Exam 4
Fall 2019 Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Exam 4
Fall 2019 Sample Short Answer Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Exam 4
Spring 2019 Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Exam 4
Fall 2018 Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Exam 4
Fall 2018 Practice Exams Exam 1 Exam 2 Exam 3 Exam 4



Services in The Mathskeller and The Study

The Mathskeller is closed to in-person traffic in Fall 2020. Virtual drop-in tutoring is available this semester at limited times, and staffed by some of our current MA 109 Instructors. Additional information is available at https://math.as.uky.edu/mathskeller/.

The Peer Tutoring Program offers FREE drop-in tutoring for many University of Kentucky (UK) core courses. Offering proactive assistance, the goal of the Peer Tutoring Program is to enhance students' academic experience as early and as often as possible. The Peer Tutoring Program provides a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for students to drop in, as they wish, to seek help on homework or exam prep, or simply to study within a group environment. Peer Tutors in The Study Central and The Study North are nationally certified, well-trained undergraduate students who have successfully completed the course for which they tutor at UK. This makes them a great resource for questions about a professor or course format in addition to questions pertaining to the subject.

Peer tutoring is offered in two locations: The Study Central, on the bottom floor of Donovan Hall (entrance is catty corner from K-Lair) on central campus, and The Study North, on the first floor of Jewel Hall (residence hall across from the Student Center) on north campus.


Your final grade is a letter grade A, B, C, D, or E. It is computed from several components (as indicated in the table). Each exam is taken in the evening, and has a very strict absence and cheating policy (be careful not to get a zero on the exam). Homework is completed online and requires internet access. The instructor score will measure active, engaged, in-class participation. It may be based on pre-class online quizzes, in-class activities or quizzes, or post-class online quizzes. Once the semester is over, including the final exam, your total points can be compared against the grading cutoffs table to find the matching letter grade. Any curve will be decided after the final exam is graded, but is unlikely to be significant barring unforeseen circumstances. A typical grade distribution is 20% of students assigned an A, 25% B, 20% C, 10% D, 10% E, and an additional 15% withdrawing. Grade distributions may change from semester to semester, but this provides a rough indicator of the difficulty students as a whole have with the course. Please note that the option to retake this course are limited.  
Grading components
Points % Assessment
100 20% Exam 1
100 20% Exam 2
100 20% Exam 3
100 20% Final Exam
60 12% Online homework
40 8% Active participation
500 100% Total

Your letter grade will be determined on the following scale:

Grading cutoffs
Minimum Points Minimum Percent  Grade
450 90.00% A
400 80.00% B
350 70.00% C
300 60.00% D
0 0.00% E

Mid-term grades will be posted in myUK by the deadline established in the Academic Calendar.


There will be three midterm exams and one final exam. Each exam is 120 minutes (2 hours) and will be given in Canvas. You must be prepared to show your student identification card at the exams!

Exams must be taken at the specified times, or an alternate exam must be approved by the instructor. You are expected to take the exam without notes, textbooks, online access outside of Canvas, or communication with your peers. You may use a calculator approved for use on the ACT.

Exam Date Time
I Wednesday, September 16, 2020 5 - 7 pm
II Wednesday, October 14, 2020 5 - 7 pm
III Wednesday, November 11, 2020 5 - 7 pm
Final Exam Friday, December 4, 2020 6 - 8 pm

Online Homework (Webwork)

Homework must be submitted online at WebWork, in the appropriate course as accessed from Canvas. Each student is responsible for submitting the assignment in a way and time that the server will accept. Internet outages, different clocks, and other technical difficulties that occur after 5pm on the due date are at your own risk.

The homework due dates are listed in the course schedule. Homework assignments are always due at 11:59 pm. There will be many homework sets throughout the semester. Note that a few of these assignments are due during Dead Week.

Active Participation

Your instructor will determine the method of active participation for your class. At least part of your Active participation grade will be assessed by use of online quizzes called Knowledge Checks.


There are a number of important policies that can have a dramatic effect on your understanding and final grade in this course. These policies are intended to be uniform and simple, but if you have not read over them, they may have unexpected consequences.

Important dates

See the Academic Calendar, the Common Hour Exam schedule, and the Final Exam schedule for Fall 2020.

Monday, August 17 First Day of Classes
Friday, August 21 Last Day to Add
Tuesday, September 8 Last Day to Drop
Wednesday, September 16 Exam 1 (5-7pm)
Wednesday, October 14 Exam 2 (5-7pm)
Monday, October 19 Midterm grades
Monday, October 26 Last Day to Withdraw
Wednesday, November 11 Exam 3 (5-7pm)
Tuesday, November 24 Last Day of Classes
Friday, December 4 Final Exam (6-8pm)



Active, engaged, in-class participation is mandatory and forms a major portion of your final grade. You should be prepared to take notes either with pencil and paper or your preferred electronic writing device. If you are meeting your instructor for class via an electronic meeting, please log in on time and stay for the whole class.  It is recommended, for maximum benefit, that you have both audio and video access, if possible. If you have special circumstances, please contact your instructor before class begins so that they can excuse late arrivals or early departures. Unexcused late arrivals or early departures may result in significant reduction in participation grade for each day on which they occur.

An absence can only be excused if the instructor is notified within a week of the absence. The choice to excuse the absence is with the instructor, though excuses will be granted (given timely notification) according to University Senate Rule namely (a) serious illness, (b) illness or death of a family member, (c) University related trips, (d) major religious holidays, (e) other reasons deemed reasonable by the instructor. In the case of (c) and (d) notification must be provided one week in advance. In all cases documentation may be requested to ensure the absence does meet policy. For (a) a University Health Services Tier 2 or Tier 3 excuse is required, or a similar note from a health care provider who will confirm that you are a patient and were seen on the indicated day. Documentation that cannot be verified may result in the absence not being excused.

Absences can affect three major types of grade, and the policies for how absences affect each grade differ: Homework extensions should be requested before the homework solutions are available. Homework is available many weeks in advance, so that absences of type (c) and (d) can usually be handled without recourse to a homework extension. Active Participation measures a continued commitment to engaged and active participation with course content. Consult your individual instructor for details on how this will be measured, and how excused absences affect this measurement. Absences for exams are quite serious. An unexcused exam absence results in 0 for the exam grade, which lowers your final grade by at least a letter grade. To allow for exceptional circumstances, please speak with your instructor if an alternate exam is needed. We have a number of alternate times available to take each exam, and any reasonable request received before two weeks prior to the exam for one of those times will be automatically granted (excused). On the other hand last minute requests or requests that would require undue hardship are likely to be rejected (unexcused) or only given with a severe point penalty. Absences of type (a) and (b) should be reported within 24 hours of the exam to ensure that a reasonable accommodation can be found. Exam absences not reported within a week are automatically unexcused and result in a zero on the exam.

Accommodations Due to Disability

Please notify your instructor in advance if you need accommodations due to disability. Exam accommodations require one week notice to get everything in place. Most accommodations can be worked out with the disability resource center. They will provide you with a letter for your instructor that should make finding accommodations easy. You should still check with your instructor that everything looks fine (and arrange a private meeting if details need to discussed).

Academic Honesty

All assignments, exams, quizzes, and exercises completed by students for this class should be the product of the personal efforts of the individual(s) whose name(s) appear on the corresponding assignment. Cheating or plagiarism is a serious offense and will not be tolerated. Any potential cheating case will be thoroughly investigated, and could lead to failure in the course or even to expulsion from the university. See Student Rights and Responsibilities in the University Senate Rules (Sections 6.3.1 and 6.3.2) for information on cheating, plagiarism, and penalties. A summary of recent changes to rules on cheating can be found at the academic ombud website.

Classroom Behavior, Decorum, and Civility

Students are expected to be actively participating during class. Students are also expected not to distract others. If you arrive late, leave early, are distracted by your phone, or are otherwise not actively engaged with the class you may not receive credit for participating that day. If you are disrupting class, you may be asked to leave.

College Algebra is traditionally a very difficult class, and many of your classmates will be having a hard time adjusting both to the university and to the demands of the class. You are expected to treat your classmates with respect. It is reasonable to disagree, but you should express your disagreement respectfully. Personal attacks or statements denigrating another on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender expression, age, national/regional origin or other such irrelevant factors are considered a severe disruption. Harassment will not be tolerated.

Non-Discrimination Statement and Title IX Information

The University of Kentucky faculty are committed to supporting students and upholding the University's non-discrimination policy.

Discrimination is prohibited at UK. If you experience an incident of discrimination we encourage you to report it to Institutional Equity & Equal Opportunity (IEEO) Office, 13 Main Building, (859) 257-8927.

Acts of Sex- and Gender-Based Discrimination or Interpersonal Violence: If you experience an incident of sex- or gender-based discrimination or interpersonal violence, we encourage you to report it. While you may talk to a faculty member or TA/RA/GA, understand that as a "Responsible Employee" of the University these individuals MUST report any acts of violence (including verbal bullying and sexual harassment) to the University's Title IX Coordinator in the IEEO Office. If you would like to speak with someone who may be able to afford you confidentiality, the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) program and Bias Incident Support Services (Frazee Hall – Lower Level), the Counseling Center (106 Frazee Hall), and University Health Services are confidential resources on campus.

Dead week

Homework score and active participation score continue as usual. Homework is due and the typical measures of in-class participation will be present. No papers or exams will be given during dead week.

Limited course repeats

University Senate rule 4.3.3 allows department chairs to prevent a student from registering in a course for a third time, unless a student has withdrawn for urgent, non-academic reasons. The Department of Mathematics enforces this rule for students attempting a fourth registration in MA 109, 110, 113 and 137.