Syllabus and Policies

 // Logistics

  • Professor: Dr. Laura Taalman, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Textbook: Calculus 1 with Integrated Precalculus, Taalman, First Edition
  • Section 03 time and location: MWF 9:05–9:55 am, SSC EPIC 4043
  • Section 04 time and location: MWF 10:10–11:00 am, SSC EPIC 4043
  • Quiz Days: Every Friday during class
  • Midterm Days: September 30 and November 4, 2016
  • Final Exam Days: December 14 (Section 03) and December 16 (Section 04)

// Course Description

MATH 231 and MATH 232 form a sequence that combines first-semester calculus with algebra and trigonometry. The sequence is designed for students whose pre-calculus skills are not strong enough for MATH 235. Calculus material in MATH 231 includes limits and derivatives of algebraic functions and their applications. May be used for general education credit.

Prerequisite: MATH 155, MATH 156 or sufficient score of at least 18 on the Calculus Placement Test. MATH 199 is a co-requisite for students with Calculus Placement Test scores less than 23. MATH 231-232 together are equivalent to MATH 235 for all prerequisites. Not open to students who have already earned credit in MATH 235. Biology students should instead take MATH 233E and 234E. For more information see the JMU Math Placement Matrix.

// Course Information

This course covers differential calculus of algebraic functions of one variable, including developing an understanding of limits, continuity, differentiation, and derivative applications from both theoretical and calculational perspectives.

Information on grades, assignments, and course goals can be found at the following links:

For official university syllabus information, please see

// Attendance Policy

You do not need to notify me about missing regular class days. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get notes and announcements from another classmate and by consulting the class website. Daily quizzes cannot be made up, but can drop up to three of them. If you will be absent for a prolonged period of time then you should let me know, and provide documentation.

You must be in class each Friday for quizzes and exams, beginning at the start of the class period. I do not give make-up exams but in some extenuating circumstances I may be able to “excuse” you from a quiz or exam, and you can drop one quiz grade or absence. If you have a problem with attending on a Friday, then you must notify me in advance if you want to request accommodation. If an emergency causes you to miss a Friday quiz or exam, then you should contact me and explain your situation. My sympathy with your plight will be partially determined by how much effort you put into quickly contacting me and working to find a resolution to your situation.

// Technology Policy

Cell phones may not be used as calculators or clocks or in any capacity during quizzes and exams. Calculators, tablets, and/or computers are also not permitted during quizzes and exams.

For work done outside of class I suggest that you check your answers with a graphing calculator or computer program. Any graphing calculator is probably fine, as are many others. A better (and free!) alternative is the website, which is an online tool that can do much more than a standard graphing calculator, including symbolic differentiation and integration, with steps explained.

// Inclement Weather Policy

Information concerning cancellation of classes due to inclement weather is available at, on the campus radio 1610 AM, or by calling (540) 433-5300.

// Statement of Compliance With Americans With Disabilities

JMU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandate reasonable accommodations be provided for students with documented disabilities. If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodations, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate provision of accommodations you may need. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Office of Disability Services, the designated office on campus to provide services for students with disabilities. The office is located in Wilson Hall, Room 107 and you may call 540-568-6705 for more information.

// Religious Accommodations

All members of the faculty are required to give reasonable and appropriate accommodations to students requesting them on grounds of religious observation. The faculty member determines what accommodations are appropriate for his/her course. Students should notify the faculty by no later than the end of the Drop-Add period the first week of the semester of potential scheduled absences and determine with the instructor if mutually acceptable alternative methods exist for completing the missed classroom time, lab or activity.

// The JMU Honor Code

I completely support and encourage working together in groups on homework assignments outside of class. Having said that, I take the JMU Honor Code very seriously, and you should too. Any instances of suspected cheating or academic dishonesty will be referred to the JMU Honor Board for investigation.

In particular, you should know the difference between collaboration and academic dishonesty. This is sometimes a subtle distinction and it can vary from classroom to classroom.

For example, in my class it is not cheating to work together on homework and then each write up your own answers in your Notebooks. It would also not be  considered cheating to consult the internet while figuring out how to solve a problem for your homework Notebook. In my class, homework is tool for guiding your own learning; because it is not collected for a grade, you can collaborate on and get help with the homework in whatever way you best see fit.

On the other hand, it would be considered cheating for you to copy problems into your Notebook from a friend the night before an exam, to use someone else’s notebook, or to hide old exams or printouts in your Notebook without writing them in your own hand, just to name a few examples. And, of course, it would be considered cheating for a student to look at another student’s exam paper, have someone else complete their assignments, gain information about exam problems in advance, and so on. For more complete information, please consult the JMU Honor Code.

// Getting Help

I strongly encourage you to study regularly with other students outside of class. Discussing mathematics out loud can significantly increase your understanding. Students who attend regular study groups tend to get more homework done, do better on quizzes and tests, and get higher grades in the course as a whole.  If you need help setting up a study group, please let me know. You won’t be the only one who is wishing they had some other people to work with.

The Science/Math Learning Center in Roop 200 is open Monday through Thursday from 12pm–4pm, Friday from 10am–2pm, and Sunday 11am–4pm. Many students choose to do their homework in the SMLC all the time, so that help is always available when they need it. You can also use the SMLC as a meeting place for study groups or to find other people to work with.

// Office Hours

I welcome you to visit me in my office at 123 Roop Hall, inside the 119 Suite of offices on the first floor. When you visit my office please bring your Notebook so we can see how you have been doing on the homework as part of our discussion. My scheduled office hours are currently 2:00-3:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. These hours may change based on weekly events or if a different time becomes more appropriate for some reason. I will inform you in class and on the Calendar of any changes to my office hours. You can also talk with me before or after class to make appointments for alternate office hours.

I also encourage you to ask me questions by email at any time; I can usually respond within a few hours. My office phone is 540-568-3355, but I almost never check my office phone voicemail, so don’t leave me messages there. However, my office phone number is a good tool to check if I am in my office if you are thinking of stopping by outside of my office hours or at some other time; just give me a call and see if I’m around before you head over. If you have an emergency or an important, time-sensitive issue then you can text me on my cell phone; I will give that number to you in class or by request.

// Who am I?

Most students call me “Laura” but you can also call me “Dr. Taalman” or “hey, I have a question.” I’m married, have an 11-year-old son, love to play Minecraft, and can beat you at Mrs. Pacman and MarioKart Wii but probably not much else.

I went to college at the University of Chicago, got my Ph.D. in mathematics at Duke University, and joined the faculty of the JMU Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 2000. I’m now a tenured Full Professor here. In my mathematical research I’ve studied algebraic geometry, knot theory, and the mathematics of games and puzzles such as Sudoku, Tchoukaillon, and poker. You can see my academic website at I wrote the textbook for this class. I am sorry.

When I’m not doing math I work in 3D printing and design. I put together the 3D MakerLab in the Math/Stat Department, started the JMU 3D-printing classroom 3-SPACE, and am currently working with Innovation Services to set up Makerspaces in Carrier and Rose Libraries. I’ve been on leave for the past two years and working in industry, with the 3D printing companies Ultimaker, Shapeways, and MakerBot. I’m known as “mathgrrl” on Thingiverse, where you can download hundreds of my 3D-printable designs for free. If you want to know more about how to get started with 3D printing or design, feel free to ask me anytime! For more information see

// Who are you?

I have aphantasia, which makes it difficult for me to recognize people, especially when they are out of context — for example, if you switch seats in class, come to my office hours, or run into me at the grocery store. In class, I will ask that everyone use nametags at their seats and write their names next to their work when they use the whiteboards.

Please do not be insulted if it takes me a long time to be able to recognize you or remember your name! When you see me outside of the classroom, just remind me of your name and what class you are in, or maybe what we were talking about the last time we met. Once I place you I will remember you and everything that we talked about. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you this semester!  🙂