The Problem with Problems

problem with problems


Academic Team:
Randy Sullivan (
First-Year Experience Seminar Instructor
Alice Tabor (
FIG Assistant

9 credits
UGST 109 First-Year Experience Seminar - 1 credit
CH 111 Introductory Chemical Principles- 4 credits
MATH 111 College Algebra - 2 credits

About the FIG:

Have you had a rocky relationship with science and math problems? Do your knees start to shake when you see a problem that’s longer than a single short sentence? In college, success in a science or math course depends, to a great extent, on your ability to solve complex problems. The exams that you will take and the homework you will complete contain a lot of tough problems.

In “The Problem With Problems,” you will begin to learn the skills that you need to tackle those tough problems. We will start by taking a look at why problem-solving plays such an important role in science and math learning.  At the same time, we will work on improving your problem-solving skills and help you learn to leverage your problem-solving so that you can master the big concepts behind the problems.

This FIG is unavailable for Advanced Registration. The math and chemistry placement tests must be completed prior to students being eligible to enroll.

CH 111 Introductory Chemical Principles- CoreEd or major satisfying course

This course is designed to introduce students to a limited number of chemistry topics and applied mathematics themes that will enable students to progress to the CH221, 222, 223 General Chemistry course sequence. Students in this course will learn to think like a chemist and will study phenomena in terms of macroscopic, sub-microscopic and symbolic interpretations and representations. In addition to lectures, there will be group work and on-line homework assignments, all of which are designed to build your basic knowledge and scaffold that knowledge to develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills that will lead to success in this and future science courses.

MATH 111 College Algebra - CoreEd or major satisfying course

MATH 111Z begins by building familiarity with functions, including notation and the rate of change in a function. Linear functions, including lines of best fit, are discussed. Evaluation, identifying domain and range, and the basics of composition and inversion of functions follow. Quadratic and polynomial functions are introduced along with roots and extrema of quadratic functions. Exponential and logarithmic models are discussed with a focus on applications. Finally, transformations of functions are covered. The course covers content from Chapters 1 through 6 and Chapter 11 from “College Algebra and Trigonometry for the University of Oregon”, by Connally, Hughes-Hallett, Gleason, et al. The course text is a custom edition of “Functions Modeling Change: A Preparation for Calculus”, 4th ed, by Connally, Hughes-Hallett, Gleason, et al. Students using the national version should know that page numbers will not match up between the national and custom versions of the text. College algebra is a calculus preparation course and as such has a strong algebraic focus. Students should primarily take MATH 111Z to fulfill the MATH 241 or MATH 112Z prerequisites, although it does also satisfy one course of the Bachelor of Science mathematics requirement. Students solely seeking credit toward the Bachelor of Science mathematics requirement should consider MATH 105Z, 106, or 107. Prior to taking this class it is strongly recommended that students have recently taken a high school level algebra 2 course or an intermediate algebra course such as MATH 095. Students should expect to take a readiness quiz during the first week of classes to demonstrate preparedness for MATH 111Z.