This site contains a collection of review materials for College Algebra along with examples and sample problems with detailed solutions in Algebra. Topics include: fractions, units of conversion, complex numbers, quadratic equations, factorization and roots of polynomials, solving equations, systems of equations, inequalities, inverse functions, logarithms and exponential functions and rational functions. . S.O.S. Mathematics/Algebra is a part of a commercial site that offers mathematics review materials to high school and college students. All of the materials are freely accessible but may also be purchased via CD.

Type of Material:

Reference material; tutorial

Recommended Uses:

This site can be used as a supplement to a standard Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra or College Algebra course or as an online reference guide.

Technical Requirements:

none

Identify Major Learning Goals:

Review of topics for a standard course in College Algebra.

Target Student Population:

College algebra students.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

Basic mathematics

Content Quality

Rating:

Strengths:

The site provides review materials that cover many topics in a typical College Algebra course. It provides general explanations and examples as well as exercises with detailed, step-by-step solutions. It also includes graphs that accompany the examples. In large part, the examples are nicely presented and the student problems and associated answers are also well presented. Students have the opportunity to attempt the exercises on their own before accessing the solutions.

Concerns:

The review materials on Identification of Simple Fractions are somewhat contradictory and in need of cohesion. In each of the three examples for Rule #1, Division by Zero, the answers state that, There is no numerator, no denominator, no division symbol because it is not a legal fraction. However, in each of the associated student problems involving fractions with division by 0, the answers state that, This is not a fraction; its value is undefined because the denominator has a value of zero. In the examples, there is no denominator but in the problem answers the denominator has a value of 0. This is contradictory and could be confusing for the uninitiated reader.
In Order of Operations, no mention is made of the need to proceed from left to right when adding/subtracting successive terms. For example, when given the following expression, some students tend to add before subtracting and then obtain erroneous results: 7 - 20 + 10

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating:

Strengths:

These resources are an excellent source of review for College Algebra concepts. The examples and student problems with detailed solutions reinforce the concepts involved. In some student problem solutions, there is a list of general principles and/or procedures that pertain to the particular problem along with detailed, step-by-step solutions.

Concerns:

There is no interactivity provided; however, the static presentation is fairly thorough.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating:

Strengths:

The site navigation is linear for the most part. The topics are generally representative of those presented in College Algebra. Since the site is text-based, a student will need to possess only the most basic Internet skills in order to progress through the materials.

Concerns:

The formatting of math equations and symbols is ok but not always consistent, e.g., sometimes the hyphen is used instead of the en dash to indicate subtraction.
The site navigation is inconsistent and sometimes awkward, e.g., in the section entitled Complex Numbers, there are no links from one subsection to the others; a user must return to the Algebra home page in order to access the other links. In some sections of the site, Back and Next links are provided; in others, there is only a link back to the site section heading.
The section on factoring comes after the section on solutions by factoring. A student will not be able to progress through the materials in the order that they are arranged.
The site introduces the matrix method for solving linear equations without introducing the basics behind matrices.

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