Welcome to Calculus, the Study of Change!

CALCULUS I                                      Dave’s Syllabus                                     Spring 2016

Over the next three months, you will see some of the most influential ideas humans have ever imagined - ideas that are essential for most of the technological wonders that have graced our world over the last hundred years, ideas that allow us to explain the physical world around us and make predictions about it. Calculus is the study of how things change. And everything changes.

Random Facts:


Dave Kung (@dtkung)


175 Schaefer Hall, x4433

(or 240-895-4433)



Random Fact:

I’m a semi-professional violinist.


Savannah Bergen



Office Hours:



and by appointment.







Class Philosophy: One learns math by doing it, not by watching other people do it. Consequently, you will be required to participate actively during class, and work very hard outside of it. The payoff is big: Calculus is one of the truly monumental achievements of humankind, and, by the end of this class, you will have begun to understand and appreciate it.

Throughout the semester, you will fail … repeatedly. Make sure you are in the right mindset to take advantage of your failures, to make them productive. Savannah and I will periodically give you ideas or how you might better take advantage of the opportunities to learn. I hope you also come to my office hours (see above) to chat. Additionally, I welcome your ideas about how to make the course better, and what we could do to make sure you get the most out of it. If at any time you have something to share with me, just let me know.

Workshops: On Tuesday evenings when we don't have Opportunities (see below), we will finish working on the worksheets we start in class on Monday. Attendance is required for these sessions, which will be led by Savannah, your able, fearless TA.

Where to go for help: You have three main resources to draw on when you need help in this class. The first and most important is your fellow classmates. Calculus will go much smoother for all of us if you start getting to know them and start studying with them outside of class early in the semester – and you’ll want to know their names by the end of week 2. The second is me – my contact info and office hours appear above.  I will also be around at other times - feel free to drop by and say hi.  If you can't find me, email or call, and we'll schedule an appointment that works for both of us.  In an emergency, you should drop me an email (I check it very frequently). Your third resource will be your TA, Savannah.


Grading:  Calculus can be learned at two levels.  At the basic, mechanical level, you will learn how to do calculus (e.g. taking derivatives, using chain rule, etc.)  Learning Calculus at this level is required to pass the class. You will demonstrate such proficiency in two Gateway Exams, one on differentiation and the second on anti-differentiation. On each, correctly answering 8 of the 10 questions is required to pass the class. If you score below 8, you may repeat a Gateway Exam without penalty (on your own time).


Assuming you make it through the Gateway Exams, grades will be earned by understanding Calculus at a deeper, theoretical level.  This includes understanding why we do the calculations, why they work, and why they apply to so many of the physical situations around us.  Your ability to explain the concepts of calculus will continually be tested, both in class and on ``Opportunities’’ (the name is because you should see them as your chance to show us what you have learned.)

There will be a variety of ways to show that you are learning Calculus.  They will contribute to your final grade as follows:


  Assessment                                   Date                                Percent

Opportunity I                                 Feb 16 (6pm-??)                11

Opportunity II                               Mar 22 (6pm-??)              11

Gateway I                                      Feb 25 (and after)                4

Opportunity III                              Apr 12 (6pm-??)               11

Gateway II                                     Apr 22 (and after)                4

Group Projects                               periodically                        11

Homework                                     all semester                        10

Class Participation                          all semester                        10

Textbook Questions                       all semester                          8

Final Exam                                    Thurs, May 5th, 2pm-??    20

Total                                                                                      100


The Opportunities are in the evening starting at 6pm; they are not timed.  Be sure to mark these on your calendar now.

Group Projects:  

Three times during the semester you’ll be asked to complete a project in a small group (2 or 3 people). These projects will be assigned when we have completed the relevant material.

Textbook Questions:

At least 24 hours before most classes, I will post a question or two (on Blackboard) regarding the textbook reading.  After doing the reading, you should reply to the message, answering as best you can.  Grading for these questions will be entirely on effort. If you truly have no idea, please tell me that.


Most homework will be completed online using a system called Webwork and will be assigned daily. You should be doing more than these problems – especially if you’ve never taken Calc before. Login at webwork.math.smcm.edu/webwork2/Math_151_01_S16/; use your SMCM username, with your SMCM username as your initial password (which you should change). Homework will always be due by 11 am, giving me time to look at the results before class. If you have a legitimate excuse (e.g. an injury, illness, or death in the family) contact me for an extension.

Extra Credit: You can earn a 1 percentage point increase in your grade by attending and writing a summary the NSM Colloquium talks. This can be repeated up to three times for a total of 3 percentage points extra before calculating your final grade. Talks are for a general audience of science majors in the areas of Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The lectures are in Room 106SH most Wednesdays at 4:40.  Watch for announcements of these talks on email and on posters around campus. If you are not free on Wednesdays at 4:40, let me know and we will find a suitable replacement.


Late work will not be accepted unless caused by a (documented) extenuating circumstance. If you have a (documented) learning disability, please see me within the first two weeks to discuss it. All student handbook policies (including those about academic honesty) will be enforced.



Learning in this class is considered to be everyone's shared responsibility.  Part of that responsibility is attendance; when you are not here, not only do you miss important work, but the entire class misses out on your contributions.  The Class Participation portion of your grade will reflect that.  Congrats for reading this far.  To show you read carefully, stop by my office (175 Schaefer) and check off your name by Friday at 11am. We will be working in groups regularly; how well you work with others will also factor into the Class Participation portion of your grade. 


I would like nothing more than for everyone in this class to earn an A; let's all work to toward that goal.