MBA: Business Analytics Syllabus - Spring 202x       

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Syllabus quick links: Objectives, Structure, Textbook, Technology, Grading Criteria, Policies



Course Information

Days & Times: The course officially starts on Tuesday, January xx. You are expected to have logged into the course on Moodle by Tuesday morning. This course is NOT a self-paced course. It is asynchronous with due dates for all assignments. There are no "live" meeting times.
Location: There is no location. You can work from anywhere (in the world) that is convenient to you.
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: Email:
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office Hours: I can always be reached by email or from discussion posts.

Catalog Description

Introduction to analytical techniques for making business decisions; utilizing Excel to apply descriptive and predictive analytical tools to solve practical business problems using real-world data; dealing with uncertainty in decision making; formal probability concepts and statistical methods for describing variability (decision trees, random variables, hypothesis testing); application of techniques (linear regression, Monte Carlo simulation, linear optimization) to model, explain, and predict for operational, tactical, and strategic decisions.

Course Objectives

This course introduces quantitative modeling, statistical analysis, and structured decision-making techniques that are useful for professionals and managers. A unifying and unique element of the course is using Microsoft Excel to perform various kinds of analysis in a spreadsheet environment instead of using statistical calculators or tables. The primary objectives of the course are:

  1. Categorize data to construct appropriate tables and charts, and interpret data using Excel.
  2. Investigate decision alternatives in the face of uncertainty. Use decision tree diagrams.
  3. Define probability for an event and calculate probabilities and outcomes using rules of addition, multiplication, and counting.
  4. Distinguish different kinds of probability distributions. Calculate probabilities of events using Excel.
  5. Calculate probabilities and p-values to evaluate hypotheses about sample data to support decisions using Excel.
  6. Calculate relationships between two or more data sets using Excel regression analysis.
  7. Determine the best decision using optimization techniques and models in Excel.
  8. Use simulation modeling techniques in Excel to evaluate uncertain business environments.

You will see these objectives and their number (e.g., CO1, CO2, etc.) referenced in each weekly module and the Course Calendar.

Course Structure

This course's duration is 11 weeks and online. The course content and assignments are the same as the in-class version of this course.

In this course, I use my Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle, instead of the university's LMS. Moodle, an industry-leading open-source LMS, offers features not yet available in the university system. Moodle supports my quality standards. I do have a link in the university system to Moodle for the convenience of students who might be in Moodle, but you can get to Moodle without going through the university website. There is no cost for Moodle.

This online course follows an instructor-paced schedule, like in-class courses, has firm deadlines for assignments, but does not use weekly webinars because this course is asynchronous.

One week before each weekly module (a module is a collection of topics,) as shown on the Course Calendar web page, I turn on that module, notifying you by email that it is available. You will see it in Moodle. By turning on a module one week early and then making its due date one week after a module is covered, my method provides you with about two weeks to do every assignment, except for exams.

Each weekly module in Moodle begins with a Resources and Assignments web page that provides a somewhat step-by-step listing of what you need to do. On this web page, you will also access many support materials, such as my PowerPoints, supplemental readings (when appropriate,) my Excel models, and most importantly, my lecture videos. My lecture videos, a significant component of this course that you will quickly come to appreciate, are broken down into "conceptual understanding" and "Excel problem-solving" episodes. Following the Resources and Assignments link, you access assignments and self-assessments on Moodle.

You should watch my lecture videos, do the readings, and then attempt the assignments. Then, about a day after the module date, as shown on the Course Calendar web page, I make a "reinforcement" video and a reinforcement web page available to you. This "reinforcement" matches what I do in the physical classroom; it reviews what we have just learned and provides more problem-solving examples. However, since this course is asynchronous, you can decide when to view the Reinforcement video, but you should view it after watching the other lecture videos and tried solving some problems to get the full benefit of the reinforcement materials.

Every weekly module, near the bottom of each module in Moodle, has a discussion forum for students to post questions or provide comments or observations. Posting in these forums is optional and meant to be helpful to all students, and everyone will see these questions, comments, and observations.

I have carefully designed my videos to improve your study time. I deliver these videos asynchronously, meaning you do not have to be behind your computer at any specified time to hear my lectures. You can study when you are most productive! These videos are provided in "mp4" format and can be played directly from most browsers, and they can be downloaded to your computer, tablet, or smartphone. See my "Videos, Videos, and More Videos" web page for more information about various ways to watch my videos. I think that you will enjoy my lecture videos, typically 15 to 25 minutes long.

Through my use of various electronic technologies and a very organized, easy-to-use LMS, Moodle, you will see that I am very dedicated to making your learning productive and efficient.  You can be successful in this course if you study the materials, watch the videos (often more than once), do all assignments on time, and ask questions whenever something is not understood.

The "Course Calendar" web page shows the course's topics and dates.

This course is in English, and the times are CST.

About a week before the class begins, I will send you a "Welcome" email that provides details and course access information, including how to access Moodle and a small pre-course assignment.  You will find the contents of this email also in Moodle. I am sending this email to your email addresses on record with the Registrar, so watch for this email and remember that you may need to check your “junk” mailbox. The Pre-Course assignment is due on the first Tuesday evening.

Required Textbook

"Statistical Techniques in Business & Economics," 18th Ed., Douglas A. Lind, William G. Marchal, and Samuel A. Wathen, McGraw Hill Irwin, 2021. ISBN 978-1-260-23947-8. This textbook can be purchased from the Bookstore. The 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, or 18th editions are permitted, but the bookstore carries only the 18th edition. Note: no special DVDs or software keys are required, just the textbook.

I recommend getting the version that best suits your budget and reading style. This textbook is a good reference textbook, and it also provides many solved problems.

See FAQ - How to keep the textbook cost affordable. Earlier editions of this textbook are often priced under $20.

Supplemental Readings. I will provide several supplemental readings for a few of the topics when needed.

Course Technology

This course assumes that the student has basic computer skills and understands how to use products such as email, browsers, word processing, and spreadsheets. There may be times when you will need help from Information Technology Services which is the university's computer support department.

Computer and Internet: A PC or Macintosh computer is required with Internet access, upload and download speeds of at least 4 Mbps. I want to point out that I designed this course for either PCs or Mac.  If you own a PC, Windows 10 is recommended. If you own a Mac and want to use Tableau, High Sierra (MacOS 10.13) is required.

Students are expected to have a computer or use a university lab computer.

Course Software: This course requires Microsoft Excel 365. University students are eligible to get MS Office 365 for free from Microsoft. Do not use the web-based Excel. The web-based version has an option to "open on your desktop." To verify that you have the correct version of Excel, open a blank worksheet and in any cell type "=SEQ". You should see the "SEQUENCE" function.  If not, you need to update.  

Some students find it helpful to purchase the TreePlan add-in. I will provide more information about TreePlan when this topic is covered.

Browser requirements: You will need a modern browser that is up to date, such as MS Edge, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or equivalent. Note: Internet Explorer 11 is not supported.

Acrobat, Video Player, and Screen Capture:

The latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader must be installed on your computer to access course materials posted as PDFs. 

The posted videos play within most browsers. They can also be downloaded and played with Windows Media Player or the QuickTime player, or you can use a more powerful video player such as VLC (PC or Mac) or the Elmedia player (Mac). The videos are standard mp4 videos.

I also recommend knowing how to do "screen captures" for those times when you want to show me a problem that you are having with your computer or software. See my FAQ webpage for help with screen capture software.

University Computer Lab Computers: Students can use the University labs computers, which meet these course requirements and are available for on-campus students. Students can also use the public computers that are available in the building.  Always check the version of Excel.

Mobile Devices: I design most of this course's materials to be easily viewed from most modern tablets, smartphones, and multimedia players. Mobile devices are handy for playing videos and accessing course materials "on the go." Moodle appears fine from most smartphone browsers, and there is an optional Moodle Mobile App if desired. (I always work from my smartphone's browser and not the Moodle app.)

Pre-Course Assignment: I provide a pre-course assignment (see Course Calendar) to ensure that all of these course requirements are working well before the start of the semester and to introduce you to the course and Moodle. I also explain this pre-course assignment in the "Course Introduction" video.

Need Technical or University Support? You should ask me any questions about the course materials and Moodle.  My FAQ web page might sometimes help. Completing the required pre-course assignment will answer many questions. Questions about The University of Iowa specific items, such as your UIowa email, UIowa computers, etc., should be directed to ITS,, 319-384-HELP (4357). General university academic support and resources are found on the university's Quick Guide for Helping Students web page. Questions about the Tippie MBA program, your course reimbursement after grades, courses and schedules, program feedback, etc., can be directed to the extremely helpful MBA Administrative Team.

Accessibility: You will find this course designed with accessibility in mind, including students with and without special needs. Here is additional information about the accessibility of products used in this course.

Grading Criteria

Students will be assessed based on their performance in the following items:

Participation: 5%
Weekly Self-Assessments and Assignments: 45%
First Exam: 25%
Second Exam: 25%
Bonus Points: up to 2% extra

Your Moodle grade book will show you both points and percentages for every graded item. Your grade book is regularly kept up to date.

Final grades will be awarded based on the following ranges:

>= 99: A+ 94 - 99: A 90 - 94: A-
87 - 90: B+ 83 - 87: B 80 - 83: B-
77 - 80: C+ 73 - 77: C 70 - 73: C-
67 - 70: D+ 63 - 67: D 60 - 63: D-
below 60: F    

The MBA Committee recommends that approximately half the grades be in the "A" category, and approximately half in the "B" category. The C, D, and F grades are used as needed. However, this course has an exception and uses an absolute grading scale.

Attendance & Participation: This course is asynchronous and does not have "attendance." There will be a few specific "participation" assignments. As mentioned above, this online course follows an instructor-paced schedule and has firm deadlines for assignments, but it does not use weekly webinars because this course is asynchronous.

Timing for Assignments: All assignments have due dates (Tuesdays) that show in Moodle's "Calendar" and in Moodle's "Upcoming Events." When turned on, you can begin assignments and submit them before the due date. When the due date expires, the assignment is over. I encourage you to start assignments early. Also, I try my hardest to help everyone who seeks my help before due dates, and usually in less than two days, but the probability of getting my help goes down dramatically as the due date approaches (i.e., if you ask me a question two hours before an assignment is due, I may not respond).

Self-Assessments (Concepts & Problems): Every week, you must complete self-assessments to see how well you understand the assigned readings and, more importantly, whether you can solve business problems. These self-assessments are in Moodle, and you must complete them by the due date -- no exceptions. When you "submit" these self-assessments, Moodle immediately grades them. If you do not like your grade, you can redo your self-assessment unlimited times, and your highest grade is what counts. Since you can redo your self-assessments, I encourage you to start early and complete at least one attempt so that you hopefully will not end up with a zero. You should post questions about these self-assessments in the forum at the bottom of each topic. Then other students or I can discuss, provide feedback, and respond. The weighted score for each self-assessment typically depends on the number of questions in each.

Uploaded Assignments: There will be some topics where I expect you to upload a file. I intend to grade these assignments and provide feedback within two days after their due dates. The weighted score for each assignment depends on its complexity.

Exams: There will be two exams, equally weighted and delivered electronically. You do not need to take these exams at the university testing center. Each exam will cover only the materials that we have covered in each half of the semester. These exams are timed, 2-hours long, one attempt, but you will have a period of at least 24 hours (often more) to decide when to begin. I design them to take one hour, but allow two hours to satisfy all accommodations. You must take exams individually, and there will be severe consequences for those who do not follow this rule. The best way to ensure that you don't appear to be "cheating" is to ensure that no other student is in sight of you. Exams are open-book and open-notes, and you are encouraged to use Excel. Your exam grade will be posted immediately upon completion of the exam, as the multiple-choice questions are self-grading. At my discretion, I can ask you to find an instructor or administrator from a university to proctor your exam.

Bonus Points: Occasionally, I provide bonus exercises, shown as "Bonus" in Moodle. Bonus exercises are always optional and are additional points within their grade category. In the spirit of quality and continuous improvement, whenever you are the first student to identify an administrative error about any component of this course, you will receive one (1) bonus point. These bonus points can add up to a 2% improvement in your overall grade.

Course Policies

Communications, Posting, and Email: I send an email each week when a topic is released; sent to the email address(s) you provided in the pre-course Student Survey. When you have a question, I prefer that you post your question in Moodle since your question and my response often benefits other students. Moodle will email these posts to everyone using your Moodle profile's email address. However, if you have a more personal question, email it to me. I typically reply to posts and emails in less than two days. If you do not get a response from me within two days, try emailing me to both my private ( and university ( email addresses, just in case your email is detected as spam.

Make-Up Exams: Make-up exams will only be given for extreme situations.

Late Work: Late work is not accepted.

Academic Integrity and Misconduct: I sincerely hope that no student in this class submits work that is not their own. However, it seems prudent to clarify in advance the policy on cheating. If I determine that the student did not solely complete an assignment, the student will receive a zero (0) for the assignment and may receive an "F" for the class. All incidents of cheating will be reported to the Associate Dean of the College of Business, and you may be placed on disciplinary probation for the remainder of your work at the university. In general, the decision of the Professor may be appealed to a Judicial Board, then to the appropriate Associate Dean. The Honor Code will determine the proper appeal process.

Classroom Etiquette (Netiquette): In emails, online discussions, assignments, and other interactions, a courteous tone, politeness, and professionalism tone is expected. Here are some tips on "Netiquette."

Rectifying Scores: During the semester, I will post all your scores in Moodle's grade book for you to view. After you get your assignment or exam grade, you have a week to dispute your score. Beyond this period, I will not entertain any disputes.

Privacy: As part of this course, your name will be revealed to other students in the class. If you have concerns, please contact the instructor immediately.

Privacy Statements for software products that students might use in this course:

Collegiate and University Policies (written by the university, verbatim)

The administrative home of this course is the College of Business, which governs academic matters relating to the course, such as the add/drop deadlines, issues concerning academic misconduct, and how credits are applied for various graduation requirements. Different colleges might have different policies.

The College of Business is committed to providing students with a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment to pursue their educations. In addition, Students at Tippie adhere to an honor code that emphasizes the importance of honesty and integrity. Student concerns about this class or your performance in it can be discussed with the instructor or the Associate Dean for Graduate Management Programs. More details about these and other policies are available on the Tippie website.

The University of Iowa is committed to protecting freedom of speech and the principles of academic and artistic freedom, accommodating students with disabilities, and accommodating absences due to religious holidays. In addition, students are expected to comply with the University’s Code of Student Life. The University is also committed to non-discrimination and prohibits all forms of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and related retaliation. The University also provides resources for student mental health and for students' basic needs and support. You can find more information about these and other policies on the Provost’s Office’s website.

BA Syllabus QR Code.