Foundations of Business Analytics
Summer 2020 - Online

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

Course Information

Days & Times: This course officially begins on June 15.
New topics will be released Tuesdays & Fridays, and these will be the due dates for most of the assignments.
Location: Online and asynchronous. You do not need to be at your computer at any specific time or day.
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: (STAT:1030 or STAT:2010 or STAT:3100 or STAT:3101 or STAT:3120 or STAT:3510 with a minimum grade of B or STAT:4100 or BIOS:4120 or PSQF:4143 with a minimum grade of B) and (MATH:1380 or MATH:1460 or MATH:1550 or MATH:1850 or MATH:1860) and (MSCI:1500 or CS:1020 or CS:1110 or CS:1210 or CS:2110 or ENGR:1300 or ENGR:2730)
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: Email: or
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office: Virtual
Course Site: There is a link in the ICON course to Moodle.

Program Goals

The administrative home of this course is the Tippie College of Business, which governs academic matters relating to the course. The Tippie Undergraduate Program has learning goals that drive decisions about curriculum and assignments within courses. These goals are: 1) using analytical, creative and collaborative approaches to solving complex, ambiguous problems; 2) effective written, spoken and visual communication; 3) global awareness and understanding; 4) ethical reasoning; and 5) professional preparation.

Catalog Description

Introduction to business decision making using data; students transform data into Insight using visualization, statistics, and optimization; introduction to Excel as a tool for business analytics.

Course Objectives

Analytics is the science of transforming data into insight for better business decision making. This course prepares Tippie College of Business undergraduates for the modern business world in which analytics is a central skill whatever a student’s major and future job. Among the topics discussed in the course are data preparation and data visualization as well as statistical tools such as chi-square testing, regression, and forecasting. In addition, the course will use Microsoft Excel as its central analytics tool. Excel is the most common analytics tool available to professionals, and this course prepares students for its advanced use.

Course Structure

This course is an “online” course utilizing the “asynchronous learning” model and makes extensive use of my lecture and instructional videos. The Summer course is also accelerated, compressed to eight weeks. Each week (usually on Tuesdays and Fridays) target="_blank" topics are provided in my Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle. On Moodle, students access chapter resources and assignments, lecture and support videos, quizzes, and exams. Course materials will support students in the completion of assignments, projects, and examinations.

I have carefully designed my videos to improve your study time. I deliver these videos asynchronously, meaning that 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 the variety of ways to watch my videos. I think that you will enjoy my lecture videos, typically 15 to 25 minutes long.

Through my use of a variety of electronic technologies and a very organized easy-to-use LMS, you will see that I am very dedicated to make 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" webpage shows dates and topics for this course.

This course is in English and 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.  I send 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.

Required Textbook(s)

"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 UIowa Bookstore. The 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th or 17th editions are permitted but must be purchased elsewhere. Note: no special DVDs or software keys are required, just the textbook.

I have decided to use ICON Direct as one way to keep textbook cost low (which should be $35) and acquisition easy. However, if you decide to get this textbook on your own at either a lower cost or a different format, make sure to "opt out" of ICON Direct (directions for opting out.) I will not be using any electronic-based content that requires you to have the ICON Direct textbook version.

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

Course Technology

This course assumes that the student has some computer skills and understands how to use products such as email, browsers, word processing, and spreadsheets. There may be times where you will need help from ITS or STSG (Stead), which are the university's and the College of Business' computer support departments, respectively.

A pre-course assignment has been provided to make sure that all of these course requirements are working well before the start of the semester. This pre-course assignment is also explained in the "Course Introduction" video.

Computer and Internet: For this course, you can use either a PC or a Macintosh computer. However, "officially" since this course is within the Business Analytics Department of the College of Business its policy states that students should have a PC. If you have a PC, Windows 10 is required. If you have a Mac, High Sierra MacOS (10.13) is required.

Internet access, preferably broadband wired connections with upload and download speeds of at least 2 Mbps.

Course Software: This course requires the following application software: Excel (2010, 2011, 2013/2016/2019/365). It is recommended to have Excel 365 since most of my videos will be using this version of Excel. UIowa students are eligible to get MS Office 365 for free from Microsoft. Also, students have access to Excel 2016 (and many other software products) on the UIowa Virtual Desktop. The Virtual Desktop version of Excel works with all models that we use in this course.

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

Email: Email is the most common method of communication for this course. You should have an email account (UIowa or other). Students can expect to receive weekly communications from the instructor (via email) introducing assigned coursework and the topics to be presented in the lecture videos. Students are expected to check their email account several times a week, and to read all posts on Moodle. You will also be receiving emails periodically from Moodle's forum discussions.

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, and 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 softwar

University Computer Lab Computers: Students can use the University labs' computers, which meet these course requirements, and are available for those students who are on-campus.

Mobile Devices: Most of this course's materials are designed to be easily viewed from most modern tablets, smartphones, and multimedia players using your mobile device's Internet browser. Mobile devices are handy for playing videos and accessing course materials "on the go."

Need Technical Support? Any questions about the course materials and Moodle should be directed to the professor.  The professor’s FAQ webpage might sometimes help. Questions about The University of Iowa specific items, such as your UIowa email, MS Azure, UIowa software such as MS Office, UIowa computers, etc., should be directed to ITS (our UIowa computer support group.) If you happen to be working on this course from another country, you can use Skype (and other methods) to phone UIowa support.

Grading Criteria

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

Discussions and participation: 5%
Concepts Self-Assessments: 10%
Problems Self-Assessments: 20%
DATAfile Projects: 15%
Project Presentation: 20%
Two Exams: 30%

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 Tippie College of Business guidelines suggests that an appropriate grade distribution would approximately consist 20% of the students in the A range, 40% of the students in the B range, 30% of the students in the C range, and 10% of the students with a grade of D or lower. This course is not graded on a "curve," therefore the exact grade distribution will depend on the class’s performance. The instructor reserves the right to adjust the grade distribution as appropriate.

Timing for Homework: I typically turn on assignments about a week early, and make the due date one week after the week the topic is covered (shown on the Course Calendar webpage). I send you an email weekly as each target="_blank" topic is turned on for you on Moodle. With this approach, just about every assignment, except for exams, is available to you for two weeks. All assignments have due dates (Tuesdays and Fridays), that show in Moodle's "Calendar" and in Moodle's "Upcoming Events." When the due date expires, the assignment is over. 

I try my hardest to help everyone who seeks my help before due dates, 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.)

Discussions and Participation: Regular engagement is expected and will lead to success in this course. I welcome your email or posted questions, and usually address questions in less than two days. At times, there may be required discussions. There is no attendance component in this course.

Self-Assessments (Concepts & Problems): Every week, you must complete self-assessments to see how well you understand the assigned readings. These self-assessments are in Moodle and they must be completed by the due date -- no exceptions. Late assignments are not accepted, and the student earns a zero grade on these. If you do not like your grade, you can repeat your self-assessment unlimited times, and your highest grade is what counts. Since you can redo your self-assessments, I encourage you to begin early and complete at least one attempt so that you hopefully will not end up with a zero. Since many topics build upon previous topics, missed assignments should still be completed.

DATAfile Projects: For some topics, you will have a "DATAfile project" to complete. These DATAfile projects are a little more involved, contain more "data," are a bit more open-ended, and they will cause you to review and use your acquired knowledge. For some of these, you will often need to submit a short write up that addresses the problem, illustrates your problem-solving approach using Excel, and formulates your decision.

Project Presentation: An end-of-semester project will include a "PowerPoint" presentation that you will provide to the class. Students will present an application of using Excel to analyze data and draw conclusions. The format for this presentation must follow the "Pechu Kucha" technique. You must use either a voice-over-PowerPoint presentation, or if you prefer, another form of video/audio presentation. Details of the project will be distributed later in the semester.

In this project, your presentation should typically have four sections: An introduction, An Approach, Results, and Conclusion.

As part of this assignment, you must comment on other student's presentations.

Exams: There will be two exams, equally weighted and delivered electronically. Each exam will cover only the materials that we have covered in each half of the semester. These exams will be timed, designed for one hour, but I allow everyone two hours to accommodate all student situations and needs that might occur. You will have a period of at least 24 hours to decide when to begin. Exams must be taken individually, and there will be severe consequences for those who do not follow this rule. The best way to make sure that you don't appear to be "cheating" is to make sure that no other student is in sight of you. Exams are open-book, open-notes, and you are encouraged to use Excel. Also, at my discretion, I can ask you to find an instructor or administrator from a university to proctor your exam.

Bonus Points: Occasionally, bonus exercises are provided, and these will be identified as "Bonus" on Moodle. Bonus exercises are always optional, and they are additional points within its own 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 amount to up to 2% improvement in your overall grade.

Course Policies

Communications: Students can expect to receive weekly communications from the instructor. Students can expect to receive responses to email inquiries within 24-48 hours. Privacy considerations, such as federal law, may apply when using an address other than the standard University e-mail address.

Makeup Exams: Makeup exams will only be given for extreme situations.

Late Work: Late work is not accepted.

Academic Integrity and Misconduct: It is my sincere hope that no student in this class submits work which is not his or her own. However, it seems prudent to clarify in advance the policy on cheating. If I determine that any assignment was not completed solely by the student whose identification number appears on the project, 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 Tippie College of Business and the student may be placed on disciplinary probation for the remainder of his or her undergraduate work at the University of Iowa. In general, the decision of the Professor may be appealed to a Judicial Board, then to the appropriate Associate Dean. The Honor Code for the Tippie College of Business will determine the appropriate appeal process.

Classroom Etiquette (Netiquette): In emails and online discussions a courteous tone and politeness is expected. For tips on "Netiquette" technique, go to:

Rectifying Scores: During the semester, I will post all your scores on Moodle 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.

Collegiate Policies and Guidelines

Show the Tippie Collegiate Policies and Guidelines

University Policies and Guidelines

Accommodations for Disabilities: Show the UIowa Accommodations Policy.

Mental Health: Show the UIowa Mental Health Policy.

Sexual Harassment: Show the UIowa Sexual Harassment Policy.

Multicultural Holidays: Show the UIowa Multicultural Holidays Policy.

Sustainability: Show the UIowa Sustainability Policy.