Business Calculus (MTH 205)

Purpose: to help other instructors teaching the same course

Common Course ID: MTH 205
CSU Instructor OER Adoption Portrait

About the Course

Course Title and Number
Brief Description of course highlights:  

MTH 205 Business Calculus is a 3-credit course which focuses on basics of calculus and the application of this topic to business decision-making and problem solving. The course will present math theory and math models. Exercises in critical thinking and model building will be introduced, along with the application of these two tools to the quantitative analysis of business problems.

Key topics to be studied include: understanding functions from the perspective of calculus, the concept of limit, the definition and meaning of the derivative, computing derivatives, using derivatives in applications, antiderivatives and definite integrals and their meaning, and the (First) Fundamental Theorems of Calculus. In every topic we study, we seek a conceptual understanding from several perspectives, the ability to apply ideas, development of logical reasoning and communication skills, and an appreciation for calculus as a whole.

Learning or student outcomes: 

During this course, students will demonstrate their ability to:

  • Understand essential properties of limits, continuity, derivatives, and integrals.
  • Apply basic rules of differentiation, differentials and derivatives to solve problems in business and economics.
  • Comprehend the interplay between graphical, numerical and algebraic concepts and solve practical problems that require various differentiation techniques (e.g. product rule, quotient rule, chain rule).
  • Graph functions and solve optimization problems using first and second derivative properties.
  • Understand the concepts behind indefinite and definite integrals and their application to practical problems.
  • Apply antidifferentiation techniques to problems that require integration.

Key challenges faced and how resolved: Syllabus and/or Sample assignment from the course or the adoption [optional]: 

The largest issue was adapting this OER meant for a traditional calculus course to a business-oriented one. This simply meant more supplementing of examples and exercises from a business point of view.

About the Resource/Textbook 

Textbook or OER/Low cost Title: Active Calculus
Authors: Matt Boelkins 
Student access:  

Students can easily access all materials online via the LMS. WeBWorK offers an option to download homework sets as a PDF for those students who prefer to work on paper. Further, for timed quizzes, WeBWorK easily allows instructors to adjust and extend time for those students that require it.

All materials are provided at no cost in this course.

Cost Savings:

Costs saved were $54/student for WeBWorK, so for an average spring semester of 3 sections of 25 students, a total savings of $4050.

OER/Low Cost Adoption

OER/Low Cost Adoption Process

Provide an explanation or what motivated you to use this textbook or OER/Low Cost option. 

While my driving force is to develop and use more relevant material which supports active learning in the classroom, an added bonus is to provide materials at no cost to our students. I was also blown away by the detailed real-world approach of this particular OER.

How did you find and select the open textbook for this course? 

I was exposed to this OER, Active Calculus, in a professional development program through the Mathematical Association of America known as Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) for young faculty. In this program, Matt Boelkins hosted a workshop on the use of his book specifically in the online setting.

What did you change as part of the OER adoption?
Homework changed platforms, and in-class activities were used from the new OER.

Describe effects on teaching and learning that resulted from adopting OER e.g.

  • Faculty now enjoy spending less time on prepping pre-class assignments and quality in-class group activities.
  • Student grades have remained steady/slight increased.
  • While too soon to accurately discuss retention, lower DFW rates point to a likelihood of increased student retention.

Student Feedback or Participation

Students widely reported their preference for no cost course materials. While some students faced a learning curve with entering answers into their new homework system, they did enjoy the immediate feedback features and multiple attempts to lower their stress of completing homework. For the adopted OER, students stated that the book was “more clear and understandable” and had “more examples and (was) easier to understand solutions to the problems”. 

See attached survey results.

Sharing Best Practices: 

Using OER and online homework systems allows instructors to make a perfectly relevant course for their unique programs. Dig in to the flexibility allowed within OER to adjust, cut, and add content to your liking!

About the Instructor

Dr. Ariel Setniker, Cal Maritime

  • As a mathematics educator, I focus on reforming gateway mathematics courses and developing curriculum to support active learning in the classroom. My passion is supporting students in finding the practicality of mathematics.
  • The majority of students are sophomores, although there are occasionally juniors and seniors as well.  Sophomores tend to make up the largest percentage of students in these courses.  The vast majority of students are business majors. There is a prerequisite, MTH 100 College Algebra & Trigonometry.