MAT 201 Calculus 1

Undergraduate course, Mathematics Department, Utica College, 2020

Welcome to the home page of Dr. Xiao Xiao’s Calculus 1 course at Utica College. You can find all the information and documents for this course on this page. Please check this page frequently for announcements and assignments. Note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this course will be entirely online for the Fall 2020 semester.

Important Dates

  • Add/Drop deadline: 8/28/20
  • Withdraw deadline: 11/2/20
  • Thanksgiving break: 11/26/20 - 11/27/20
  • SOOT: 11/27/20 - 12/4/20
  • There will be no fall break.
  • Final exam: Dec. 7 - Dec. 11

Instructor Information

  • Instructor: Prof. Xiao Xiao
  • Email:
  • Office: White Hall 255
  • Virtual Student Support Hours: book your appointment below.


An Important Course Policy

I pride myself on having a good environment for working and learning. It is very important to me that we all treat each other with care and respect, in equal measure. I know that I ask students to take risks in class almost every day, and this can be challenging for many. I ask that you help me keep our classroom a supportive place for each of the people in it. Each of us deserves the space to bring our full, authentic selves to class and be comfortable.

General Course Information and Policies

  • Course name: MAT 201 Calculus 1
  • Course credit hours: 3 credit
  • Course Prerequisite: MAT 151, or satisfactory performance in the math placement test administered by the math department, or permission of instructor.
  • Class time and location: TR 8:30am-9:45am online. See above for connection link.
  • Textbook: Please see the course material link above.
  • Online homework system: We will use the WebAssign online homework system designed for Ron Larson’s Calculus textbook. You do not need to purchase the hard copy of Ron Larson’s Calculus textbook. If you want to have that textbook as a reference, you will have the access to an electronic version of it after you have purchase the WebAssign access. The ISBN for the WebAssign standalone access card is 9781337631853. You can also purchase the access directly from the publisher at Note that it is very unlikely that any used Calculus textbook will come with the WebAssign access. The class key you need to self-enroll in WebAssign is “utica 3303 3325”. Please use your Utica College official name and email address to register at WebAssign. Do not use nickname or your private email address. If you have not purchased the access card or have purchased it but have not received it, please still go ahead and register as soon as possible as the WebAssign website will have a grace period and you can start to work on homework problems immediately.
  • Calculator: We will be using a free graphing calculator app called Desmos. You can use Desmos directly by going to their website at You are strongly encouraged to use Desmos on a computer or on a tablet. You can download Desmos at Apple or Android.
  • Course description: We will discuss the concepts of limits and derivatives, how to compute them, and how to apply them to solve real world problems.
  • Course learning objectives: Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
    • formulate and solve mathematical problems using the differential calculus of Newton and Leibniz.
    • understand necessary differential calculus content for license for teachers in the State of New York.
    • communicate mathematics orally and in written form.
  • Class organization: This course will likely be different from any other math course you have taken before. As an instructor, I will not be lecturing most of the time although I love lecturing very much. Scientific research shows that most people do not learn mathematics by listening, instead, they learn by doing it! I am sure you have said to yourself before “It looked so easy when the professor was doing it, but now I am confused when I have to do it by myself.” Why? Because the knowledge belongs to your professor and does not belong to you. You do not learn the knowledge simply by hearing it once or twice from somebody else. In order for you to have a more thorough understanding of the knowledge, we will use a pedagocial practice called inquiry-based learning. Most of the time during the class, students will be working in groups and presenting solutions that they have produced by themselves and not by other people or textbooks. Attendance is mandatory. Attending class meetings will have a direct impact on your learning as well as your grade. If you miss class for any reason, you are responsible for getting the information from a classmate, and checking the course web page for any handouts and assignments.

  • Makeup policy: You can only make up a quiz or an exam if all three conditions are met:
    • You have a legitimate reason (as determined by me) with documented proof. Visit of emergency rooms due to urgent health conditions is an example of legitimate reason. Attending non-academic events, such as someone’s wedding is an example of non-legitimate reason.
    • You have informed me well in advanced.
    • You can only make up the quiz or the exam after the scheduled date.

Your Role and My Role

  • Professor Xiao’s role: I want you to succeed and I am here to help you succeed, but I cannot succeed for you! I have designed the structure of the course to help you learn. The class format will challenge you but it will be exhilarating and even fun at times. I will do what I think is the best to help you understand the material in the course. I hold office hours to provide you the opportunity to get additional help, and I check and respond to email frequently.
  • Student’s Role:
    • You are responsible for making sense of the concepts and processes in this course. Success in mathematics is less about “ability” and more about willingness to think and to work hard to make sense of things.
    • Attend every class meeting, participate, present whenever you can and work on the assignments outside of class.
    • Please respect the ideas and opinions of others.
    • If you are having trouble, please come to office hours or make an appointment to visit me.

Intellectual Property

  • My lectures and course materials, including powerpoint presentations, tests, outlines, and similar materials, are protected by U.S. copyright law and by Utica College policy. I am the exclusive owner of the copyright in those materials I create. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own use. You may also share those materials with another student who is registered and enrolled in this course.
  • You may not reproduce, distribute or display (post/upload) lecture notes or recordings or course materials in any other way — whether or not a fee is charged — without my express written consent. You also may not allow others to do so. If you do so, you may be subject to student conduct proceedings under the Utica College Student Code of Conduct
  • Similarly, you own the copyright in your original work. If I am interested in posting your solution on the course web site, I will ask for your written permission.

Course Learning Goals

  1. I can compute instantaneous rate of change by using average rates of change.
  2. I can evaluate limits of basic functions algebraically.
  3. I can evaluate limits of basic functions geometrically.
  4. I can sketch the derivative given the graph of a function.
  5. I can use first derivative to describe the monotonicity of a function.
  6. I can use second derivative to describe the concavity of a function.
  7. I can determine whether a function has a limit at a point, whether a function is continuous at a point, and whether a function is differentiable at a point.
  8. I can find the algebraic equation of the tangent line to a differentiable function at any give point in context.
  9. I can use the tangent line of a function to approximate function values in context.
  10. I can compute derivatives of polynomials, exponential functions, and logarithmic functions.
  11. I can compute derivatives of trigonometric and anti-trigonometric functions.
  12. I can compute derivatives using the product rule.
  13. I can compute derivatives using the quotient rule.
  14. I can compute derivatives using the chain rule.
  15. I can find derivatives of inverse functions.
  16. I can find derivatives using implicit differentiation.
  17. I can use derivatives to find local extreme values.
  18. I can use derivatives to find global extreme values.
  19. I can solve related rates problems.
  20. I can solve optimization problems.

You are strongly encouraged to download and print a copy of the learning goals to record your grade.


Homework assignments come in three different formats.

  • The first kind is online homework assignment at WebAssign (Please purchase the access as soon as you can). There will be one WebAssign homework each week and they are due Saturday at noon. To earn credit, you must earn more than 90% on each WebAssign assignment. If you have made mistakes and would like more attempts, you can request extra attempts in WebAssign. Each WebAssign assignment is worth 1 point.
  • The second kind is completing tasks in the course materials assigned every week. You will be working on these assignments during the class time and discuss them with your peers. These assignments will not be collected and you will be responsible to complete them on time and ask for help if you get stuck.
  • The third kind is reading assignment. For a reading assignment, you will log in to Engage and click the Reading Assignment link. You will be forwarded to a platform called Perusall to complete the assignment. For each reading assignment, you need to make annotations on the course notes to show your understanding of the materials. Your annotations can be questions, comments or responses to other people’s questions. Perusall will analyze your annotations and determine the level of your understanding. If you want to know more about the rubrics, you can check out this file. Note that if your comments are clustered, you will not get full credit. If your comments are past deadline, you also will not get credit. Each reading assignment is graded in 0-3 scale.


  • You will spend most of the time in class solving tasks in the course materials in groups of three or four. Each group can choose their own presenter when asked. If there are more than one group member that wants to present, the one with fewest goals achieved at that time has the first dibs. The instructor reserves the right to choose any member from a group that he deemed necessary.
  • All presentations will be done in the virtualy format. The prensenter will record a video explaining solution of desigated tasks with the following requirements:
    • Detail work can be clearly read by the audience
    • Explantions should be clear for every single step, no matter how small the step is
    • The presenter should include a brief introduction in the beginning of the presentation to talk about the general strategy
    • In general, the presentation/recording should be less than 10 minutes. Please re-record if more than 10 minutes. If you must use more than 10 minutes because the solution is very long, contact the instructor.
  • You will earn credit for a presentation if you are able to correctly explain your solution. It is not enough to have a correct answer.
  • The purpose of presentations is not to prove to me that the presenter or their group has done the problem. It is to make the ideas of the solution clear to the other students.
  • Confusions and mistakes are very common when learning new mathematics and they should be handled positively to stimulate your thinking. The audience should feel free to ask questions in the discussion forum but please respect the ideas and opinions of others. For example, instead of using the phrase “You should change XYZ.”, start your sentence like “Do we want to change … ?”
  • Though the atmosphere in this class should be informal and friendly, what we do in the class is serious business. In particular, the presentations made by students are to be taken very seriously since they spearhead the work of the class.

Quizzes and Examinations

There will be a quiz every week except for the first week. Each quiz will be posted online every Friday at noon and due Saturday at noon. There will be one cumulative final exam.


In this class, we will use a system known as standards-based grading. You will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate that you have met a goal. A goal is met if a student has successfully demonstrated it twice in either (a) quizzes, or (b) on one quiz and one other (final exam or a presentation). There is no partial credit. Once you have score a goal from a quiz or a presentation, you should put a note in one of the boxes before the relevant goal on this print out. You should use clear labeling to indicate when you score that goal, for example, Q2 stands for Quiz 2, or 3/2(P) stands for presentation on March 2. If you are unsuccessful on a quiz problem, prepare yourself to do better on the next quiz. Feel free to stop by my office and ask for practice problems. Quizzes are scheduled on Fridays. The goals that will be tested on a quiz will be posted at this page on Thursday evenings. Presenting problems and participating discussion in class, doing homework and exercises are all ways to help you prepare for the next quiz. All of goals appear on multiple quizzes so you have multiple chance to demonstrate that you have met the goals. Your final letter grade will be determined in two steps. For Step 1, you will be assigned a base letter grade based on the following criteria.

Letter GradeCriteria
Aat least 19 goals, at least 12 homework points, and at least 4 presentations
Bat least 16 goals, at least 11 homework points, and at least 3 presentations
Cat least 13 goals, at least 10 homework points, and at least 2 presentations
Dat least 10 goals, at least 8 homework points, and at least 1 presentations
Fless than 10 goals, or less than 8 homework points, or no presentations

For Step 2, your final letter grade will be determined based on your base letter grade from Step 1 and possible adjustment based on your Perusall grade.

Final Letter GradePerusall Grade
+at least 2.70
No change1.70 - 2.69
-below 1.69

For example, if you score 16 goals, 25 homework points, 4 presentations, and 2.8 Perusall scores. Use the first table to determine that you letter grade is B. Then because Perusall grade is 2.8, your final letter grade is B+.

Tentative Schedule

Chapter 1Week 1-5
Chapter 2Week 6-10
Chapter 3Week 11-14

Tutoring Services

There are two kinds of (free) tutoring services offered by the college.

  • The first kind is to make an appointment at the learning commons for a virtual one-on-one tutoring service.
  • The second kind is Smarthinking, which is a 24/7 online tutoring service.

Academic Integrity

I have zero tolerance on dishonesty. Any forms of dishonesty such as copying homework or cheating on quizzes and examinations, will result in zero credit for that particular assignment, and will be reported to the Academic Standards Committee. The highest penalty a student can receive is “F for cheating” for the course. There might be additional sanctions by the Academic Standards Committee such as dismissal from the college. See Utica College official page for Academic Honesty for more details.

Special Accommodation

The stuff just below is the University approved language, and is a bit… ``legalese’’. The point is, if you need accommodations to succeed in this course, talk to me and we can make sure you get what you need. And the social environment of this course is important to me, too. Let’s work together to make a welcoming and affirming space for everyone.

Any student who has need of special accommodations in this class due to a documented disability should speak with me as soon as possible, preferably within the first two weeks of class. You should also contact Judy Borner, Director of Learning Services in the Academic Support Services Center (315-792-3032 or ) in order to determine eligibility for services and to receive an accommodation letter. We will work with you to help you in your efforts to master the course content in an effective and appropriate way. See Utica College official page for Office of Learning Services.


It is the students’ responsibility to keep informed of all announcements, syllabus adjustments, or policy changes during the semester via this web page or via school emails. The author of this syllabus reserves the right to change it with notice at any time during the semester.