MAT 201 Calculus 1

Undergraduate course, Mathematics Department, Utica College, 2021

Welcome to the home page of Dr. Xiao Xiao’s Calculus 1 course at Utica College. You can find all the information for this course on this page. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this course will be entirely online for the Spring 2021 semester. Please find the Zoom link in Google Classroom.

Important Dates

  • Add/Drop deadline: 2/5/21
  • Withdraw deadline: 4/12/21
  • SOOT: 4/30/21 - 5/7/21
  • There will be no spring break.
  • Mental health day: Thursday March 4, Friday April 2.
  • Final exam: May. 10 - May. 14

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. (Borrowed from T.J. Hitchman.)

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: Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30am-9:45am online.
  • 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 9675 3260”. 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 two different formats.

  • The first 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. You need to submit these assignments at Google Classroom every week and they will be graded mostly on completion. Each assignment is worth 1 point.
  • The second kind is online homework assignment at WebAssign (Please purchase the access as soon as you can). There will be one WebAssign homework each week (except for the first week) and they are due Saturday at noon each week. 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.

Group Participation

During the class, you will be actively working in a small group with your peer classmates. Here are a few tips on how to be a productive group member:

  • Turn on your webcam and microphone when working in small groups. It really improves the efficiency of communication. For example, if you turn off your webcam and muted while talking, no one can hear you and also will be able to tell that you are trying to talk. At the same time, you might be thinking that everyone is ignoring you.
  • Be helpful when your peer has a question. Also don’t hesitate to ask if you have a question. The best way to learn something is to teach it.
  • It is common that the class time is not enough for you to complete all the activities, so it would be a good idea to get together with your group members between classes to work on them. Use Miro as a common space to keep track of your group work.
  • Respect others’ idea. Give everyone a chance to share their opinion. Do not dominate a conversation. About every two weeks, we will switch groups and each member of the group will have a chance to evaluate other members of their group. The group participation grade is part of your grade. See Evaluation section below for more details.

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 quizzes and/or the final exam. There is no partial credit. Once you have score a goal, 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. If you are unsuccessful on a quiz problem, prepare yourself to do better on the next quiz. Feel free to ask for practice problems. Quizzes are scheduled on Fridays. 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 letter grade based on the following criteria.

Letter GradeCriteria
Aat least 19 goals and at least 26 homework points
A-at least 18 goals and at least 25 homework points
B+at least 17 goals and at least 23 homework points
Bat least 16 goals and at least 22 homework points
B-at least 15 goals and at least 21 homework points
C+at least 14 goals and at least 19 homework points
Cat least 13 goals and at least 18 homework points
C-at least 12 goals and at least 17 homework points
D+at least 11 goals and at least 15 homework points
Dat least 10 goals and at least 14 homework points
Fless than 10 goals, or less than 14 homework points

For Step 2, your final letter grade could be altered based on your group participation grade.

Final Letter GradeGroup Participation Grade
Increase a third letter gradetop 20% (above average)
No changemiddle 60% (average)
Decrease a third letter gradebottom 20% (below average)

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.