Course Exam—MATH 209 (Finite Mathematics)

MATH 209 (Finite Mathematics) is a three-credit introductory math course that starts out by teaching students the fundamentals of algebra before proceeding to more advanced elements of algebra.  This course has no prerequisites, though prior to enrollment students should have a high level of understanding of high-school-level algebra.  This course is intended for students who are going to be enrolling in MATH 309 (Discrete Mathematics).

Finite Mathematics is comprised of eight units, one assignment weighing seven percent, one assignment weighing eight percent, two assignments weighing ten percent, one midterm exam weighing thirty-five percent, and one final exam weighing thirty percent.  The eight units within this course cover topics, such as basic linear equations and graphs (y = mx + b), functions (f(x)), graphing functions, finance related mathematics (which teaches you compound interest, sinking funds, amortization, and the reason why your student loan takes a ridiculous amount of time to pay off), linear inequalities (y < x + 2), linear programming, matrices, games, and Markov Chains (the probability of an event depends on the previous event).  If math is not your strong suit, the textbook that is supplied with the course has tons of great practice questions for each unit that really helps you to understand the concepts.

This course is essentially split up into two sections.  The first section is the two lower weighted assignments and the midterm; the second section is the two higher weighted assignments and the final exam.  The midterm is only on the content that is discussed within the first two assignments and the final exam is only on the content that is discussed in the last two assignments.  Each assignment has roughly ten questions, which are very similar to the example questions in the textbook.  I completed my assignments by hand, scanned them, and submitted them in PDF format.  Also, both the midterm and final exam allow students to bring a calculator and a double sided 8 ½ x 11-inch paper cheat sheet!

Dr.  Maria Torres de Squire, the coordinator for MATH 209, has been with Athabasca University since 2000 and a coordinator for MATH 209 since 2005.  Originally from Mexico, she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico before emigrating to Canada to further her studies.  She then obtained her PhD from McMaster University.  After a fifteen-year teaching career at the University of Regina, she became interested in distance education and obtained a Master of Education from Athabasca University.  She is also the coordinator for MATH 266 (Introduction to Calculus II), MATH 309 (Discrete Mathematics), MATH 260 (Calculus for Economics and Social Sciences), and MATH 365 (Multivariable Calculus).

Dr. Torres de Squire states, “MATH 209 is a course for the mathematically curious.  We try to include topics with interesting practical applications to illustrate the powerful tool we have when mastering particular subjects, such as mathematics of finance and Markov Chains.  We hope to give students an understanding of why we study mathematics.  We would be lost without the students.  After taking the course we also hope to convince the students that with some practice and patience it is possible to become a problem solver.”

When asked what advice she would give to students currently enrolled or about to enroll into MATH 209, she states “Make a realistic study plan, follow it, and never give up.  Reach to us in case of trouble.  We are here to help students to learn and share our passion.”

Also, when asked what students she would recommend MATH 209 to, she states “Students who want to learn accessible mathematics, those who like the challenge of learning new things and apply those concepts to solve problems.”

Overall, I found MATH 209 to be challenging, yet rewarding.  At the time, math was not a subject that I was particularly good at or fond of, so just passing was my number one priority.  It was surprising when I ended up with grades much higher than a pass and I ended up liking the structure of this course over most of my other courses.  MATH 209 honestly started my appreciation for math courses.  I found that the first half of this course was much easier than the second half, as I found that the first half of the course was high-school review, whereas the second half with the matrices was much harder to grasp.  Though if I were to take this course now, I believe I would have done much better.  The midterm of this course was the first university level math exam that I had ever completed so a mixture of nerves, unpreparedness, and lack of knowing what to expect hindered me.  This course is a core course requirement of my degree so I was forced to take it, though despite that, I would recommend this course to everyone.  At this point in my degree, I look forward to taking math courses, which is something I never thought I would ever say.  Challenge yourself, the journey may surprise you!

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