Precalculus: An Investigation of Functions is a free, open textbook covering a two-quarter pre-calculus sequence including trigonometry. The first portion of the book is an investigation of functions, exploring the graphical behavior of, interpretation of, and solutions to problems involving linear, polynomial, rational, exponential, and logarithmic functions. An emphasis is placed on modeling and interpretation, as well as the important characteristics needed in calculus. The second portion of the book introduces trigonometry. Trig is introduced through an integrated circle/triangle approach. Identities are introduced in the first chapter, and revisited throughout. Likewise, solving is introduced in the second chapter and revisted more extensively in the third chapter. As with the first part of the book, an emphasis is placed on motivating the concepts and on modeling and interpretation.
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David Lippman received his master’s degree in mathematics from Western Washington University and has been teaching at Pierce College since Fall 2000. Melonie Rasmussen also received her master’s degree in mathematics from Western Washington University and has been teaching at Pierce College since Fall 2002. Prior to this Melonie taught for the Puyallup School district for 6 years after receiving her teaching credentials from Pacific Lutheran University. We have both been long time advocates of open learning, open materials, and basically any idea that will reduce the cost of education for students. It started by supporting the college’s calculator rental program, and running a book loan scholarship program. Eventually the frustration with the escalating costs of commercial text books and the online homework systems that charged for access led them to take action. First, David developed IMathAS, open source online math homework software that runs WAMAP.org and MyOpenMath.com. Through this platform, we became integral parts of a vibrant sharing and learning community of teachers from around Washington State that support and contribute to WAMAP. Our pioneering efforts, supported by dozens of other dedicated faculty and financial support from the Transition Math Project, have led to a system used by thousands of students every quarter, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars over comparable commercial offerings. David continued further and wrote his first open textbook, Math in Society, a math for liberal arts majors book, after being frustrated by students having to pay $100+ for a textbook for a terminal course. Together, frustrated by both cost and the style of commercial texts, we began writing PreCalculus: An Investigation of Functions in 2010.
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