Math 20 Math 20 logo Math 25 Math 25 logo Math Tips Math tips logo       valid HTML 4.01

Math 25: Basic Mathematics Applications
Syllabus for Fall Term 2018

Math 25 logo

Class Information

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:00 noon to 1:20 pm, Building 16, Room 208

CRN 20002, MRC CRN 23573

3 credits, 3 lecture hours per week, 6 hours homework per week

Instructor Information

David Van Slyke

website:, email:, cell phone: (541) 357-7551, Discord server:

Office: Building 16 Room 261, Office half-hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm, or by appointment

(Notes: During the school year it works best to communicate with me using the above LCC email. Please do not use my LCC office phone or moodle's messages. During the summer or winter break, when I am not teaching, it is best to contact me using my home email: Please also use my gmail address when sharing Google docs or sheets.)

Course Objectives

After passing Math 25, students will be able to...

Health: use facts and formulas to measure calories, metabolism, and exercise—and be able to explain the practical uses and limitations of these calculations.

Personal Finance: use facts and formulas to analyze interest, a budget, mortgage options, charge options, and plans to save for retirement—and be able to explain why certain financial choices are appropriate for their specific life situations.

Business: use formulas to calculate yield percent, restaurant pricing methods, and retail markup and discount—and be able to explain which business models make these formulas appropriate.

Foundational statistics: find averages, count probability, calculate expected value, and differentiate absolute versus relative change—and explain why even accurate data can create lies with statistics.

Foundational to the above objectives is a review of Math 20 topics including sales tax, percent increase and decrease, fraction arithmetic, measurement conversion, basic geometry, and calculator use. Our class also provides practice with reading data from tables, line graphs, and bar graphs.

In other words, Math 25 is about the Four Cs of Foothill College: communication, computation, critical thinking, and citizenship. Students who take Math 25 improve in communicating about math, using math facts and formulas, and deciding when and how math allows understanding personal and community issues.

Official Course Description

Basic skills in fractions, decimals, percents and ratios will be assumed. MTH 025 is a course in the application of basic mathematics to everyday situations. Topics include applications involving budget and retirement, simple and compound interest, mortgage and charge options, household and garden, health formulas, food preparation, measurement systems, markup and discounts. This course will include skill maintenance and explorations, and may involve group work and projects.


This class asks students to spend the term earning meaningful achievements instead of points. (That link on the main web page lists all fifty possible achievements.)

Materials Needed

Please bring to class paper, a pencil, a highlighter, and a notebook.

You will need a calculator that can do exponents and has a π key. Suggestions are here.

There is no textbook. The LCC bookstore sells an inexpensive optional Math 25 Packet written by the Math Division. The class discussions, online notes, and packet all work together to provide three different ways of understanding each math topic.

A key task as a Math 25 student is to condense your class notes, thoughts, homework, and favorite example problems into an improved set of notes that you are ​allowed to use on the quizzes and final exam. Preparing these notes carefully is invaluable!

Most days we start class with three kinds of review: warm-up problems from recent topics, problems from the online Math 20 final exam, and student questions about homework problems. Then we discuss new material, work on projects, and conclude with class time set aside for students to do a quiz.


By LCC policy, missing all classes during the first week causes you to be dropped from the class.

The deadline for a tuition refund is 11:59 pm on the Sunday at the end of the first week of the class. The last day for schedule changes (including the grade option of letter grade versus pass/fail) is Sunday, September 30th.

The Fall Term holidays are Veterans' Day (November 12th) and Thanksgiving Vacation (November 22nd to 25th), which remove one class day for us.

Our final happens on Tuesday during finals' week in our classroom, starting at 12 noon (our normal class start time) but lasting for 110 minutes.

You can add this calendar to your own calendar app using this ICAL address.

Please note that LCC policy allows students with three or more finals on the same day to reschedule one of them. Sometimes final exams may be taken early because of medical or other concerns.


Besides registering for our class, please also use the MRC CRN if you plan to use the Math Resource Center at all. It provides drop-in tutoring, online tutoring, calculator help, a quiet study room, a computer study room, and a place to check out the DVDs provided by textbook publishers. The MRC CRN costs nothing and has no credits. It is used by the college to get appropriate state funding for the MRC staff.


To request assistance or accommodations from the Center for Accessible Resources please visit room 19/265, call 541-463-5150 (voice) or 711 (TTY), or email

Please be aware that any accessible tables and chairs in this room should remain available for authorized students who find that standard classroom seating is not usable.

For many, many more resources, please see the math tips portion of this website.

Other Issues Regarding Stuff in Class

At the end of the second week of the term I will share by e-mail a class list with everyone's first names and e-mails. This can be a big help for forming study groups. If you do not want your name and e-mail to be included, please let me know.

You are welcome to use a cell phone calculator, except on the final exam (when cell phone use is not allowed).

You are welcome to refer to a tablet or laptop during lectures, but may not use these during tests. Please do not use any computer, tablet, or phone for personal communications during class time.

Food is not allowed in our classroom. Drinks are allowed in containers that try to be spill-proof.

Children that are not disruptive may visit class on non-test days. I have toys in my office to keep small children occupied while helping a parent during office hours.

Lecture and discussion are not formal. You may leave the room quietly without permission. When you have something to contribute, raising your hand might help me guide the flow of conversation and ensure all students have a chance to talk—or it might not be important to do. When speaking without raising your hand, please be polite and socially aware.

Although it has never been an issue in my many years of math teaching, please know that LCC instructors are Mandatory Reporters who cannot extend confidentiality to threats of imminent harm or death to one's self or others.

Emergency Procedures

Phone Numbers

Evacuation Routes

Follow instructor’s directions to exit the building or follow the exit signs. Walk, don’t run. Move away from the building.

Public Phones

Building 16 has phones in the southeast and northwest second floor lobbies, outside rooms 202 and 226. Please familiarize yourself with their locations.

Bad Weather

Sign up for LaneAlert

Sign up for LaneAlert to receive e-mails or texts about weather closures! Log into mylane. In the Home tab, locate the box labeled Personal Information. Select the Lane Alert Emergency Notification link. Select which notifications you would like to receive. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

You can also listen to KLCC (FM 89.7) or KUGN (AM 590 or FM 97.9) for campus closure information. You can also check the websites of LCC and FlashAlert.

If roads are icy or snowy, depart early and drive very carefully. Watch for black ice in shady locations on freezing temperature days. Please do not call LCC or KLCC.

If class is canceled or you are absent, please read ahead using the class website and textbook, to familiarize yourself with the upcoming topics and assignments. Then we can more quickly cover the missed material.

LCC's website has more about its weather closure policies.

The Big Secret

Pst... Did you know that you have probably never taken a real math class?

Imagine a class about art where you learn about many famous paintings, and painters, and styles of painting, and historical influences for painters, etc. But you never picked up a brush and actually painted. That would be an "art appreciation" class, right?

And imagine a class about music where you listen to many famous songs, and learn about composers and orchestras, and styles of music, etc. But you never wrote notes and actually composed, or used an instrument to play a song. That would be a "music appreciation" class, right?

Now imagine a class about math problems where you learn about famous, old math problems that millions of other people have already solved, but you never actually create any new and original and personal math. That would be a "math appreciation" class, right?

That is what our school systems do. Everyone lies and call them "math classes" but they are really "math appreciation classes". The idea of a real math class might be so strange that you have trouble imagining what it would be like!

Math 25 is probably your first real math class. It has a lot of group work and is all open-book. (Real math is like that. No one at their job is told "go in a room and solve this math problem without talking to anyone else or looking at a book".)

In Math 25 there are still many "math appreciation" problems that help guide you and your group to think about issues and topics carefully. But a lot of problems are indeed "real math" problems where there is no one right answer: how to solve the problem depends upon your personal decisions about budgeting priorities, retirement plans, renting versus home ownership, dieting and exercise preferences, etc. There is a right answer. But it is a right answer for you. Your personal budgeting priorities do allow you to find an optimal answer for how to fix a broken budget. Your personal retirement goals and plans do allow you to find an optimal way to save for retirement. Your height and weight help you make personal decisions about diet and exercise. Etc.

It can be a bit scary, in the same way that after a few art appreciation classes it is scary to start painting for the first time. But it is also useful and rewarding, in the way that actually painting goes beyond art appreciation.

Truth, Wisdom, and Encouragement

Anything new is hard. But the math topics in Math 25 are not themselves hard. All of them become okay, if not easy, with enough practice.

Math 25 is about turning free time into achievements. If you put in the time, you can pass the class. If you put in more time, you can earn a B or A. Some students with jobs and kids are too busy to put in that much time during a single term. There is no shame in needing two terms if you have many real-life responsibilities. It happens all the time.

I have taught Math 20 or 25 for thirty-eight terms. Among all those hundreds of students I have only had one who could not pass the class after putting in the required time. (She had her own circumstances.) If you have a weak math background it might take you a bit more time than if you have a strong background. But it is still just an amount of time. Study, practice, do homework, and do practice tests. You can succeed.

One reason Math 25 is simply a matter of time is that brains experience training and growth like muscles. Research shows that people of all ages can form new brain connections, larger brain cells, and deeper brain networking. These changes happen most when doing something new—and they can be permanent improvements! However, just like building muscle, improvement only happens through effort and challenge. (Watching the instructor solve problems does not exercise your own brain.) And just like for building muscle there are proven techniques that are efficient and keep increases happening. (Think of your instructor as a "study skills coach" and the study skills as exercise techniques that prevent you from getting stuck on a low plateau.)

We start each class with homework questions. No questions are silly. You will never be the only student with that question. If you already knew all the answers, you would not be in Math 25.

In Math 25 we are learning two very different things. We are learning a bunch of math topics. And we are learning study skills for how to be a good math student. The bad news is that you have a double curriculum this term. The good news is that once you learn those study skills you're done with that. In all the rest of your math classes you will only need to learn the math topics. You classmates there will look at you and say, "You're good at math!" What they mean is, "I am still doing a double curriculum but you're not. You are passing the class while doing half the work."

Never be ashamed of how many mistakes you make. I assure you that by the time I earned my masters degree in mathematics I had made more math mistakes than you will make during your entire life. In fact, unless you have a family member who also pursues a graduate degree in mathematics, by the age of 21 I surely had made more math mistakes than your entire family will ever make in their entire lives. You will never catch up! Bwahahahahaha.

If your score on a quiz is ever not as high as you would like, I would appreciate you talking to me after class or coming to office hours. I cannot require it. You're not in high school. But if you are ever not as successful as you want, I can probably help you brainstorm ways to become more efficient with your studying and more successful on your final exam.

Items to Respect

silly Dora the Explorer saying

• Right answers that show me what I know
• Wrong answers that show me what I know
• Questions and guesses that no matter what the answer show me what I know

• Asking questions to resolve confusion
• Asking questions to calm uncertainty
• Asking questions to explore what happens

• When a math topic is scary
• When a math topic is no longer scary
• When it doesn't matter if a math topic is scary, I am doing it anyways

• Math is a bunch of problems that need answers (I start by hunting for the answer)
• Math is a bunch of problems that need new tools (I start by hunting for the right tool)
• Math is a bunch of tools to answer other problems

• When I can first see something in class, and then learn by myself
• When I can first see something in class, and then learn in a group
• When I can first see something by myself, and then learn by myself
• When I can first see something by myself, and then learn in a group

• Trying to fix an ignorance arising from never before having been taught that topic at all
• Trying to fix an ignorance arising from never before having been taught that topic skillfully
• Trying to fix an ignorance no matter what its source
• Establishing accountability for learning and growth

That Would be Telling

penny farthing bicycle with canopy

Warning! A few decades ago, researchers decided that a few students learn math better if the basic skills were separated from the interesting but unavoidably more complicated applications. Ever since, many math classes have had a focus on learning skills through repetition.

At Lane Community College, Math 20 is the skill-based course and Math 25 is the interesting class. If you are a person reading this Math 25 website because real-life applications interest you, but not yet able to pass a Math 20 final exam, then read ahead at your own risk. A researcher somewhere was worried that you may not be ready for interesting applications.

Prove them wrong!