That is a good plan and most assured for what will happen. One does improve in algebra skills when studying Calculus 1, even if done outside of class enrollment.

One thing to watch is to avoid getting overloaded about the epsilon-delta limit proofs. This stuff is important to know and to try to understand, but one must not let this become an obstruction to progressing on to other Calculus 1 concepts and skills.

The Gold Standard for algebra preparedness is completing 90% of the pre-calculus pie in ALEKS. Lots of Calculus courses (including Coursera Calculus One) are not designed for and do not do a very good job reviewing or strengthening algebra and other pre-calc skills. ALEKS will get you where you need to be.

Dr. Courtney,
Would you explain all of that in terms for someone who has no knowledge of ALEKS? There was no such ALEKS for us many years ago; there was just Pre-Calculus or College Algebra And Trigonometry as the prerequisites for Calculus 1. A student could start his Math at any level, and work upward into the end of College Algebra And Trigonometry, and then enroll in Calculus 1. That was all we knew; that was all there was. Along with that, the typical knowledge on the street was that if someone knew Intermediate Algebra and had a course on Trigonometry, that would be enough to be able to start studying Calculus 1 as registered for the class.

ALEKS (see link) pre-calc is just an online system for assessing and building math skills up to and including pre-calc. Unlike human teachers these days, who often gift grades, so that a grade in high school math courses is no assurance of preparedness, ALEKS pre-calc provides a rigorous assessment of abilities. Completing 90% of the pie in any given subject indicates pretty good mastery. 90% of the pie in pre-calc indicates that the necessary material is honestly mastered even if one has been gifted grades along the way.

That seems like an excellent arrangement. Yet to have such a course in colleges and universities as College Algebra And Trigonometry; or the thing called Pre-Calculus, is still very important, too. Not everyone had "Pre-Calculus" in high school, and even those that supposedly did, could still choose a path into it at college. I myself still trust actual coursework instead of relying on a placement or qualification formal test. If someone having had PreCalculus were to do that ALEKS, show low results, and then review Pre-Calculus on his own, he could just as well do the whole Pre-Calculus course as enrolled student, but this is his to decide about.

Thank you for that resource, I haven't heard of it until I read your post. It seems like an excellent way to make sure I am well prepared for Calculus I in the Fall.

I would like to mention that my professor for College Algebra didn't give me any gifted grades for exams, quizzes, or homework because the assignments were online and graded automatically. I guess I could have used notes or the textbook on the unproctored tests and quizzes, but I chose not to. He also never rounded none of my grades. The only real bonuses for me were the graded discussions I had to complete. I will have that professor again for College Trigonometry.

Hard to say exactly what the gifting really is. Some instructors or systems make a strict 90-80-70-60 system; some others may apply some statistical curving. A student who barely learns might be able to be issued a C, but then being qualified to move on to what's next is not really certain. Maybe that C grade would have become a D grade in the stricter grading system. This was done in some classes, both of Mathematics and of Physics. The more reliable way is the strict 90-80-70-60, where you know you did how you did, because you knew what the percentages meant. If you are honest with yourself, no matter which method of grading was used, you knew what your grade issued really meant. A big blow may come to students in Physics 1, in which one must work very hard to try to at least earn a C, even if grade "curving" is used. The student could continue on to Physics 2 (which usually is Electricity And Magnetism). Then, the student may still struggle, and a gift of C might be the result for his grade. Not very good if this student wants a degree in Physics, but probably adequate if his major field is something else. THIS is a way to help decide if Physics is for you as a major field, or not.

Some years ago, I taught at a school where every student who earned a C or better in our school's Physics 1 course and took Physics 2 did well in Physics 2. In contrast, every student who enrolled in our Physics 2 course after earning the pre-requisite Physics 1 credit at a nearby community college dropped, failed, or earned a D in Physics 2. Those students were unprepared as a result of grade gifting.

I've also had my share of Physics 1 students who were nowhere near competent in algebra, in spite of As and Bs on their transcripts in algebra and pre-calculus. The incidence was over 50% in some places I taught (North Carolina) and lower in other places, but in spite of explicit pre-requisites, there have always been at least 20% of students in every Physics 1 class I've taught without real algebra skills needed to succeed in the course. They either had to work very hard to pick those skills up along the way, they had to drop, or they failed. How do so many students have the pre-requisites on their transcripts without the skills? Grade gifting.

Likewise, when I taught Calculus 1 at the Air Force Academy, about 20% of the students in those courses had abysmal algebra skills, and the Math Department had to put an assessment and remediation program in place in the first weeks of the semester to assist most of those students in passing. Many of those students had to learn algebra right alongside of Calculus, and the Math Department learned through time and experience that ALEKS was the most straightforward path to doing that.

It is difficult for students to assess their skills in a given pre-requisite, and it is unfortunate that grades issued by teachers in pre-requisite courses cannot be trusted as indicators of subject proficiency. ALEKS is not only a reliable indicator, but if skills fall short, it identifies the weak areas and offers targeted practice so skills can be improved quickly without spending much time on areas that do not need more practice. Perfect? Of course not. Just better and more certain than grades issued by lots of teachers these days.

I signed up for a free trial of ALEKS last night so I could try out STEM Precalculus. I took the assessment and got a 44% mastery. I would have gotten a better score if I would have corrected the mistake I know I made on one problem I'm sure I would have gotten right, I accidentally skipped a problem I was very confident on, the assessment was shortened because I was using a trial, and I wasn't given any matrix or logarithmic problems which I am confident I would have gotten right because I love doing logarithm problems and matrix algebra.

With all that said, I am going to purchase a six month membership once I am finished with College Trigonometry. I will be able to get a more accurate and better mastery placement. I may even place in more than 90% mastery by then. It seems like an excellent way to practice and maintain skills until I start Calculus I in the Fall.

The major thing I dislike about Alex is the video examples. Although good in theory, many students will just abuse it and memorize algorithms to solve such as problems;hence, not understanding what is happening. It is a great tool to get people to be somewhat proficient, but I believe ALEKS should be used as a supplement to a book.

I have experience with ALEKS, such as TA a few lab sections, and I noticed the students just click click away. I forced students to work on ALEKS for one hour, and not view the videos. If students needed help, I would walk over and explain it. However, they were allowed to do what ever they wanted at home.

What I noticed is that students major problem is geometry. If more geometry was taught at a sufficient level, or even reviewed, students would not have that much difficulty understanding intuitively Calculus. Furthermore, the properties of vectors, such as vector addition (parallelogram), would not be difficult. A lot of introductory physics students, from my experience, just memorize were certain angles go when doing to Force diagrams. ..

You make some good points. I prefer ALEKS to assess, review, and strengthen weak areas after a traditional book-based course has been completed. But it's not bad as a replacement for book-based courses for some students, especially if they are good at finding alternate resources to explain things when they are stuck. As I mentioned above, my biggest gripe with book based courses is too many teachers gift grades. I've seen lots of students with As and Bs on their transcripts in pre-calc who could not break 60% on an ALEKS pre-calc assessment and who were woefully unprepared for college math and physics. Those students are NOT ready for a rigorous Calculus course or even an algebra-based College Physics class. ALEKS can quickly identify weak areas and offer needed practice and strengthening in those weak areas without the students needing to repeat an entire pre-calc course.

"You do not have permission to view this page or perform this action."

That is what error message I am shown if I click to "reply" to one of these postings in THIS topic. The topic is not locked, not closed, and I'm not banned (or am I but was not yet told?), so I cannot understand the error message that I cannot view or do the action.

All I wanted to say regards to Apple_Mango's comment is that entrance requirement to "college", if for Community College, is very low and needs no examination; but entrance to a University has not an examination, but GRADE requirements as reported on transcripts. Dr. Courtney was discussing course prerequisites, grades, their meanings, and the value of ALEKS. Much of his emphasis was the problem of grades as a gift, which too often will mislead students into thinking they are qualified for a next-in-sequence course when they are in fact unqualified.

I don't see a comment from someone named Apple_Mango on this thread. It must have gotten removed. Could you tell me what they were talking about? If you can't reply to me on this thread, you can personal message me about it because I am curious.

It was there. I tried to quote it but must have been already removed and I did not know so that was why the error message was being displayed. Main thing I wanted to say was my statement about, "All I wanted to say, ..." really in support or understanding of what Dr.Courtney was explaining.

Sometimes you may not like something initially, but after gaining a bit more maturity and something "presented" in the right light light you may like it.
I was really terrible at math when I was younger. My mother saves everything, so today she showed me all my old progress reports. Long story short, I never got higher than a C in anything and "he can be doing a lot better in mathematics."

When I got older, I took a few remedial courses at the community college. My geometry professor always helped me after class. I had problems with geometry. During the lecture, he would always do something neat not in the book. It gathered my interest in mathematics, and I was presented with math books at the end. I later decided to major in math.

Now, I though physics was stupid. This was a very ignorant opinion on my part... But, it turns out, I just hated the way introductory books explain mechanics. Now I really like physics!!!

I worked with students that are considered first year college students. Some of them got a 3 or 4 on AP/BC calculus. Let me tell you, a majority of those students cannot even graph a curve, let alone a linear equation.

If you do go to community college. Try not to listen to other student assessments of professors. Only hear advice from a student that is hardworking and seems to be going somewhere. Oftentimes, students will say a professor cannot teach, because the professor is actually teaching the material at respected level. However, these students who I mention, never took their previous math classes serious, and they were "gifted" passing grades. Take a teacher who is difficult, but you can learn something from. Do not take professor A, because all the "lemmings" got an easy A in the class. If more than a handful of students got an A in the course, then the course was probably not a real course...

The geometry professor I mentioned above was deemed to be a bad teacher... However, this was due to him actually working hard... Was 80 yr old, and did not mind going to campus Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, just to make sure you understood the material...