Donna Helgeson

The following information comes from the named instructor and should describe characteristics general to courses as taught by this instructor. Individual sections of specific courses will deviate from this description in some respects.

Class Format

At this point in time I teach only face-to-face classes. My classes usually involve a combination of lecture and discussion. I strongly encourage student participation and questioning. In courses below calculus I usually provide “skeleton” lecture note handouts for students to fill in with me during lecture. I do not provide lecture note handouts in calculus courses or above. In classes where paper-and-pencil textbook homework has been assigned I like to use the first part of class (approximately 10 minutes) as a question and answer session over previously assigned homework.

Resource Use

Textbooks are extremely important in mathematics classes. I use the textbook extensively when I prepare to teach you the material in a particular section. In many of the classes I teach I utilize an online homework system and most of those systems provide an online textbook as part of the software license. In those cases it is possible for you to forego purchasing a hard copy of the textbook and instead access the textbook through the software license you will have to purchase. This is not what I recommend, but is a cost saving option in classes with online homework. I am of the opinion that you really need a hard copy of the text when you take a math class, but understand when students opt to use online access as a way to save some money. Most students who have opted to not purchase the textbook in past classes that have used online homework have told me at the end of the semester that they wish they had just gotten a hard copy of the textbook at the beginning of the semester. With hindsight at the end of the semester they thought it would have been easier to do the work required in the course if they had had a hard copy of the textbook.

Calculators are used in every course. In Math 120 a financial calculator is required. In Math 171 and above, a graphing calculator is required. In any other course, a scientific calculator is sufficient. In courses where a graphing calculator is required I use a TI-84 when I demonstrate things using the classroom projector. Students who are not comfortable or experienced with graphing calculators have found it helpful to have the exact same calculator as me.

Computer software, whenever needed, will be available for student use in the Math Resource Center. In Math 120, MS Excel will be used. In any statistics course, statistical software will be used. In every math course, web-based materials may be used.

Online homework is used in many of my classes that are not calculus. In Math 120 the online homework is available and accessible through our campus Classroom Management System (which is currently Desire2Learn) and can be accessed for no extra cost as long as the student has connection to the Internet. In other non-calculus classes where I utilize online homework the student will be required to purchase a software license from a textbook publisher in order to complete the assigned homework. I do not use online homework in calculus courses.

Assessment Most classes have 4 or 5 unit exams in addition to the comprehensive final exam. Most classes have other graded assessments such as Worksheet Checkups, online homework, textbook reading assignments, or projects. Unit exams and the final exam usually account for 75 – 80% of the course grade and homework and other material account for the remaining 20 – 25%.

Homework Policy

In Math 120 I provide a Daily Practice Worksheet at the end of every class when we have learned new material and collect this worksheet at the start of the next class to be graded. This is in addition to online homework assignments. In my other classes where online homework is not utilized I do not collect the assigned pen-and-pencil textbook problems. You will not do well in a math class if you do not do the assigned homework just because it is not being collected for a grade. Mathematics is a subject you learn by doing. Students who do only the worksheets and other items that are collected and graded do not get enough practice with the material and do not do as well in the course. In general late work is not accepted out of fairness to the other students, but in most classes students will have one or two opportunities to turn homework in late with a late work coupon provided by me.  In these one or two special instances the students will still receive a 25% grade reduction due to the assignment being late.

Attendance Policy

I do take attendance at the start of every class, but attendance is not part of the grading formula used to calculate your course grade. Absence from class may affect your grade because of your subsequent lack of knowledge and understanding. It is extremely important that you come to class.


I am normally on campus during daytime hours Monday – Friday and can generally be found in my office when I am not in class. I normally respond to questions in an email within 24 hours, but possibly longer on weekends.