Syllabus – UPDATED

// Logistics

  • Professor: Dr. Laura Taalman, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Textbook: Calculus I with Integrated Precalculus, Taalman, First Edition
  • Online Homework: WebAssign (free access through your Canvas site)
  • Section 0003 time and location: MWF 10:10-11:00, Roop 213
  • Website:

// Course Description

MATH 231 and MATH 232 form a sequence that combines first-semester calculus with algebra and trigonometry, designed for students whose pre-calculus skills are not strong enough for MATH 235. MATH 231 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.

// Prerequisites

MATH 232 is open to students who earned a C- grade or higher in MATH 231. If you just completed MATH 231 with a grade lower than C- and are still enrolled in this course then you need to drop this course and retake MATH 231 before attemping MATH 232 before January 15th. There are not many seats left in MATH 231 this semester, so quicker action is recommended if you need to switch now.

MATH 231-232 together are equivalent to MATH 235 for all prerequisites. MATH 231 and 232 are not open to students who have already earned credit in MATH 235.

// Placement Information

The Calculus Placement Test consists of 45 questions from Precalculus and Algebra and is a test of readiness for calculus, not a test of calculus topics. MATH 231-232 students have Calculus Placement Test (CPT) scores between 18 and 29 (inclusive). The determining factor for inclusion in MATH 231-232rather than MATH 235 is proficiency in Precalculus and Algebra topics, not in Calculus. About half of the students who take MATH 231-232 have already taken a Calculus course in high school.

// Mechanics of the Course

For detailed information on grading, quizzes, homeworks, and more, check out the links from this website, specifically the Calendar, Mastery Quizzes FAQ, Grades FAQ, and Office Hours. IMPORTANT – Each of these links has been updated to reflect changes made for the transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

// Official JMU Policies

We will abide by all official JMU policies. University syllabus information can be found at

// Inclusivity Policy

James Madison University is a community dedicated to diversity and inclusivity. As faculty, we believe that learning environments should support a diversity of thoughts, perspectives, experiences, and identities. We invite you to share anything with us that might help create a more inclusive and welcoming learning environment. In particular, I respect students’ preferred names and the gender pronouns that correspond to their identities.

// 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. During class you will often work in groups and occasionally present arguments at the blackboards. Missed Retake quizzes cannot be made up, but there are numerous retake opportunities built into the schedule. Students must be present for Chapter Test days to take the corresponding Mastery Quizzes; in general these Chapter Tests cannot be made up, but please contact me immediately if you have special circumstances. If you will be absent for a prolonged period of time due to special circumstances, please let me know.

// 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 or exams. However, limited use of cell phones for calculators, clocks, notifications, photos of the blackboard, etc is permitted in regular classes during non-testing situations. Laptops are not permitted except with special permission.

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 both during and outside of class. Having said that, I take the JMU Honor Code very seriously, and you should too. You may collaborate with other students on homework assignments, but your written work must be your own, and your online work cannot be completed by someone else (obviously). Cheating on Mastery Quizzes will not be tolerated. In particular, calculators and phones are not permitted at any time during the Mastery Quizzes, and students are expected to keep their papers covered and their eyes on their own papers.

Any instances of suspected cheating or academic dishonesty will be referred to the JMU Honor Board for investigation. For more complete information, please consult the JMU Honor Code.

// Who am I?

Most students call me “Laura” but you can also call me “Dr. Taalman” or “Professor Taalman” or “Taalman” or even “hey, I have a question.” I prefer not to be addressed with gender-specific prefixes like “Mrs” or “Miss”, etc. I’m married, have a 15-year-old son, and would if I had more free time I would probably use it to play Minecraft.

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 in the JMU 3SPACE 3D printing classroom in Carrier Library. I spent a couple of recent years in New York City 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.

// Who are you?

I have aphantasia, which among other things 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. 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, and the fact that I look confused at first does not mean that I don’t care about you!

I look forward to meeting and working with all of you this semester!  🙂