Multiple Authors , Openstax College
Pub Date: 2015
ISBN 13: 978-1-9381683-8-3
Conditions of Use
Any instructor teaching a college algebra class will find this text to be the perfect level of comprehensiveness. Some texts try to include too much read more
Any instructor teaching a college algebra class will find this text to be the perfect level of comprehensiveness. Some texts try to include too much and some texts leave to much out. With this text you can tell that the authors strive and succeed at finding the perfect amount of information to present and discuss when teaching concepts. The text covers the standard college algebra topics in an order conducive to learning. They start essentially with basics and equations followed by functions and then on to (in standard order) the five main functions: Linear, Polynomial, Rational, Exponential and Logarithmic. Following these standard functions are thorough discussions for every optional subject that shows up in different schools under different instructors. These include: Systems of Equations, Conic Sections, Sequences, Counting and Probability. Each of these sections cover the material thoroughly and in a completely self-contained manner so as to allow the instructor flexibility of including or not including any of these sections without having to supplement.
A review of many of the examples in the sections and many of the homework problems and the solutions found at the end of the text have turned up no errors not already listed on the errata page. The authors have gone to great lengths to eliminate errors from the text. The authors have also decided to separate important definitions, results, concepts, and theorems in blue text boxes that direct the reader's attention as to say “something is really important here.” Extensive review of these important points are error-free concise and clear.
The content of college algebra has for the most part remained unchanged for years. This text is adequately relevant to the subject as it is taught today. There are very useful links to youtube videos that explain concepts. These links will have to be monitored for accuracy as the years go by in the event that the author of the videos moves and deletes videos. Furthermore, the use of real world examples in the chapter and the homework as informational/motivational pieces at the beginning of chapters are relevant and contain recent enough that students won't feel like they're reading a textbook from some other decade. I don't anticipate very many updates to the field of algebra, but if there are any, then the authors will be able to easily incorporate those updates in subsequent editions.
The book is written in a very clear concise manner that aims to teach in a self-contained manner. Student's will be able to pick up this book and learn from it with little outside supplementation. The jargon and technical terminology is perfect for a text at this level and teaches what needs to be taught. The authors walk students through learning in the way an instructor might do so in the classroom. The authors begin every section with clear expectations of learning objectives and then addresses each one of those objectives systematically including a “how to” section followed by examples showing students how to work problems followed by a “try it” section (with answers in the back of the book) allowing students to try their hand at problems. Often there are Q & A sections included that address the most common conceptual questions that instructors are asked by inquisitive students in the classroom. It is this organization/process that makes the book clear and easy to learn from.
This text is very consistent in the language used from section to section. The authors use terminology and symbols consistently from section to section and chapter to chapter. Besides consistency in the language used, the authors have managed to organize the chapters and sections with common fonts, text boxes, and overall layout so that students know what to expect and aren't distracted by the presentation while trying to learn new concepts
The chapters are appropriately designed and ordered. Each chapter is broken up nicely into sections. The text is sometimes self-referential, however, that is the nature of mathematics and scaffolding of learning is very much apart of that. The text could be easily reorganized if needed, but I think that the authors have really managed to organize the material in a way that is conducive to learning and I don't see why reorganization (except in perhaps very minor instances) would be needed. As mentioned before, the advanced chapters following logarithms are self-contained and can be taught in any order skipping chapters without loss of consistency.
The order of the topics presented progress from easier to more difficult in a logical manner starting with a strong foundation and building upon that foundation. Within each chapter, examples and explanations are logical and flow easily from easy to more difficult.
All navigation links to chapters and sections work well. The links to helpful youtube videos all work as well. The text uses appropriate organization of graphics and text highlighting important concepts in a non-distracting manner. Colors for text, fonts, headings are all appropriate and help to focus the reader's attention to what is truly important.
After reviewing this text for several weeks extensively, I have yet to find a grammatical error. The authors have worked very hard to eliminate errors from this text.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way, however, there is really not too much effort to include examples or biographies that celebrate other cultures, ethnicities, or lifestyles. For example, using NFL examples are fine for the person that understands football, but this will not benefit students that have now knowledge of the NFL. If there is any room for improvement in this text this would be the area.
Here are some specific things that the book does really well. The examples in the homework do a great job of including problems that cater to the major areas of mathematics instruction namely: Graphical, analytical, numerical, and verbal. Calculator steps look like they cater to Texas Instruments. I'm not sure how this can be expanded to include other calculator manufacturers. Content-wise, the author does a great job of planting seeds early on for future learning. For example the authors introduce some simple transformations during the study of linear graphs before formally learning all of the other transformations in a later chapter. Later on, the authors do an exceptional job of teaching transformations including a very important and thorough discussion of how the order of transformations should be considered. This is something usually left out of most texts. The placement of even/odd functions immediately following reflections looks extremely effective! The authors seem to have found the perfect placement of this topic. There is an example or two of “solving logarithms mentally” which I believe goes a long way towards the goal of getting students to think about the mathematics they do. Discussion of conic sections are very thorough and even include derivations of the standard formulas! Here are a few things that I think the authors could consider for their next edition. The discussion of graphing non-linear inequalities hearkens back to a method used for graphing linear inequalities. However, the only graphing of linear inequalities I could find in the text is in one variable. There is no real coverage of graphing linear inequalities in two variables (in the xy-plane) which is really what is needed in order to move to the non-linear case analogously. Otherwise, the discussion of graphing non-linear inequalities is adequately thorough. Also, as a personal opinion, I don't think that partial fractions belong in a college algebra text. But if you are going to include such a section, then there should be some sort of discussion as to why you only need constant placeholders when dealing with linear factors in the denominator and why you need linear place holders when you have irreducible quadratics in the denominator. The method presented only gives “this is what you do” and no mention of why. Otherwise the placement right after systems of equations is a perfect application. Finally, in the matrices section the authors present the shortcut method for finding the determinant of a 3x3 matrix which is fine. The authors then point out that the method and not applicable to higher dimension matrices. The follow this with a statement that determinants of higher dimension matrices should be done with technology due to heavy computation. I would like to have seen a discussion of the general method of minor and co-factor expansions or at least a mention that there is a more general method that is “outside the scope of this text.” Other than these very minor improvements, this is a very well written text that any college algebra instructor could use with success. I plan on adopting this text for my classroom within the next year or so. Thanks to the authors for the hard work and a wonderful product!
The content of the text is quite comprehensive and certainly includes the relevant content that would be expected of a college algebra text. Some read more
The content of the text is quite comprehensive and certainly includes the relevant content that would be expected of a college algebra text. Some might argue that trigonometric functions should be included in a college algebra text, yet I have found that most do not. The table of contents (in both the online and PDF versions) is very useful, considering it provides links that allow you to jump straight to a specific section. The section numbering system, however, is not consistent between the online and PDF versions, causing slight confusion (e.g. in the PDF version, "Quadratic Equations" is section 2.5, but in the online version it is section 2.6). This is because the online version assigns section 1 of each chapter to the introduction, whereas the PDF version assigns section 1 to the first section of actual content, thus causing the two versions to be one section "off" from each other. The index at the end of the book is also very useful, utilizing the links to quickly jump to specific pages where key terms are referenced.
The text appears to be very well done concerning accuracy. Furthermore, the author provides instructors with a quick and easy way to report any errors.
Typically, the main "content" of a college algebra text is not going to change over time, therefore the content in this text is up-to-date, relavent, and will not become obsolete any time soon. The authors do include multiple instances of modern examples within the technology and real-world applications sections of the exercises.
The text is pretty straight-forward with providing relevant content without excess dialogue or commentary.
The structure of the text is quite consistent. It is easy to navigate. From an instructor's point of view it should be easy to work through examples with students and provide ample opportunity to assign exercises.
The text provides a nice flow of commentary, figures, examples, etc.
The layout/order of the various sections within the text is definitely clear and logical.
As previously mentioned, there is a confusing inconsistency with section numbers between the online and PDF versions. Otherwise, the navigation is quite user-friendly. The links within the text that allow the user to jump to specific locations in the text (as opposed to excessive scrolling and manual searching) are quite useful.
The text appears to be grammatically sound.
I found no instances of culturally insensitive or offensive content.
The authors appear to have gone to great lengths to make this a user-friendly, comprehensive text. Furthermore, the inclusion of a wide variety of ancillary content for both instructors and students is much appreciated. I look forward to adopting this text for my college algebra sections.
Table of Contents
About the Book
College Algebra provides a comprehensive and multi-layered exploration of algebraic principles. The text is suitable for a typical introductory Algebra course, and was developed to be used flexibly. The modular approach and the richness of content ensures that the book meets the needs of a variety of programs. College Algebra guides and supports students with differing levels of preparation and experience with mathematics. Ideas are presented as clearly as possible, and progress to more complex understandings with considerable reinforcement along the way. A wealth of examples – usually several dozen per chapter – offer detailed, conceptual explanations, in order to build in students a strong, cumulative foundation in the material before asking them to apply what they’ve learned.
OpenStax College has compiled many resources for faculty and students, from faculty-only content to interactive homework and study guides.
About the Contributors
Lead Author, Senior Content Expert
Jay Abramson, Arizona State University
Valeree Falduto, Palm Beach State College
Rachael Gross, Towson University
David Lippman, Pierce College
Melonie Rasmussen, Pierce College
Rick Norwood, East Tennessee State University
Nicholas Belloit, Florida State College Jacksonville
Jean-Marie Magnier, Springfield Technical Community College
Harold Whipple, Formerly of Columbia College