College Algebra Through Modeling

Course Information

CI 1806 is a capstone algebra course and may be suitable for replacing a high school algebra III course. It introduces students to the art of mathematical prediction through algebraic modeling and elementary probability theory. The class covers techniques of representing the behavior of real-world data with algebraic equations, including linear, polynomial, exponential and logarithmic functions. Students also learn basic probability theory including counting methods and conditional probability.

The class emphasizes the use of traditional algebraic methods and technologies such as graphing calculators and Excel spreadsheets to find equations that accurately represent the behavior of real-world data. The emphasis on real-world problem-solving applications, delivered through nontraditional teaching methods, creates a challenging class in which students compare and evaluate mathematical arguments on a daily basis. Students improve their ability to communicate and evaluate mathematical reasoning.

This course is appropriate for students who want to pursue college majors or careers in math or science, but are unsure of their math, writing, or science skills. It is also appropriate for students who are certain that they do not want to pursue college majors or careers in math or science.

Relationship to Calculus and Precalculus: Precalculus normally includes trigonometry. CI 1806 does not include trigonometry. Students usually study trigonometry before studying standard calculus. So this class might not suit the needs of a student who wants to take calculus in high school—they would instead take precalculus or trigonometry as a junior. A student who wants to take calculus in college, but who feels weak in math, could take this class in their junior year and then precalculus or trigonometry in the senior year.

At the University of Minnesota, if a student gets an A or B in CI 1806, then the student is eligible for Precalculus II (which includes trigonometry) or short calculus (a less intense version of calculus I and II).

Other Considerations

CI 1806 counts as a fourth year of high school mathematics for students seeking admission to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Class size limit: 35

Sample Syllabus

U of M Catalog Description

Math modeling, including linear, polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic functions, counting/probability. Excel or calculators used to develop equations/graphs from theoretical/real interdisciplinary data. Projects enable students to use models to examine trends, make predictions.

Student Qualifications

Students enrolling in CI 1806 will most often be juniors or seniors in high school (qualified ninth- and tenth-grade students are able to apply). Students must meet at least ONE of the following qualifications:

  • Earned C+ or better in HS Algebra I and II classes, OR
  • Successfully completed three years high school math, OR
  • Satisfactory placement test score, OR
  • Have instructor permission

Sixty percent of the students must also belong to one or more of the targeted audiences for the Entry Point Project:

  • Between the top 50% and top 20% of their class
  • Multilingual/ELL
  • Members of racial or ethnic minorities
  • First-generation college-bound students and/or
  • From families of low to moderate income

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the U of M policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

View the Instructor Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps. 

Textbooks

Various texts can be used after approval by the faculty coordinator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the texts and readings specified or mandated by the University of Minnesota? If not, what are some of the choices?
No. The faculty coordinator will help teachers identify textbooks that do algebraic modeling and that are compatible with the technical support available to students (scientific calculators vs. graphing calculators vs. Excel).

Do teachers have a choice in assignments? Are there required assignments?
Teachers must do several modeling assignments but they may choose the specific topics for the assignments. There are required topics in algebra and in probability, but the teacher has flexibility in creating assignments to go with these topics.

Who creates the exams?
Teachers can create exams or they can use existing sample exams. If teachers create their own exams, they must submit them to the faculty coordinator to become part of the CI 1806 test archive.

Is there a training and mentoring system for math teachers new to CIS?
Yes. When you begin teaching College Algebra through Modeling you will be joining a group of high school teachers that share ideas and materials with each other through email and teacher workshops. New teachers also benefit from an orientation to College in the Schools that will familiarize them with the support available through CIS as well as prepare them for administrative tasks such as registering students and posting grades.

High school class schedules vary: can a teacher in the block system teach College Algebra through Modeling?
We recommend that this class be taught as a year-long class.

What happens at typical teacher workshops?
Typical activities at CIS workshops include meeting University faculty and hearing about their recent research in the discipline; reviewing and/or developing student assessment tools; sharing instructional materials; discussing particular content, pedagogy, or assessment of the University course; and receiving updates on CIS program policies and practices.

High Schools Offering This Course

AGAPE
Andover High School
Anoka High School
Blaine High School
City Academy
Community of Peace Academy
Coon Rapids High School
East Ridge High School
El Colegio Charter School
Forest Lake Area Learning Center
Forest Lake Area High School
Henry Sibley High School
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School
Humboldt Senior High School
Jordan High School
Lincoln International High School
Marshall County Central High School
North Community High School
New Prague High School
North High School (North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale District)
Open World Learning Community
Pine City High School
Pipestone Area High School
Tartan High School
Tri-City United High School
Wabasha-Kellogg High School
Waseca High School
Washington Technology Magnet School
Watertown-Mayer High School
White Bear Lake Area High School
Woodbury High School