Business Analytics
Fall 2017

Moodle, Course Calendar, Notes & Resources
Syllabus quick links: Objectives, Structure, Textbook, Technology, Grading Criteria, Student Support

Course Information

Days & Times: Mondays, 6:00PM - 9:20PM. First meeting on August 21.
Location: Cedar Rapids Center 221 2nd Avenue SE, Room 302 Cedar Rapids
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: or
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office Hours: I will be available about 45 minutes prior to each class, and also after class.

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 techniques of quantitative modeling, statistical analysis, and structured decision making that are useful for professionals and managers. A unifying element of the course is the use of Microsoft Excel to perform various kinds of analysis in a spreadsheet environment. The major topics of the course are:

  • Displaying and analyzing data in Excel
  • Systematic decision analysis in the face of uncertainty
  • Understanding and describing randomness in the business world
  • Gathering data using sampling
  • Inferring sound conclusions from sample data
  • Establishing relationships between two or more sets of data using regression
  • Determining best decisions using optimization models
  • Simulating uncertain business environments

The course also develops required background material so as to be completely self-contained. By the end of the course, the student should:

  • Have stronger quantitative skills, including, but not limited to, the use of Excel
  • Be familiar with many of the quantitative issues arising in management
  • Be a better “consumer” of quantitative information
  • Be ready for further studies in the Masters of Business Analytics program

Course Structure

This is a 12-week course.

I plan to "turn on" each week's materials about a week prior to the evening when a topic will be discussed. Within this material, I will include my "lecture videos." You should watch these videos prior to our class meeting. A typical class will consist of activities such as: reviewing lectures concepts and problem solving techniques; professor-led exercises in Excel; and discussions of relevant current events. I will post a "class plan" each Monday afternoon. This method will allow us to productively use our time together, gives us ample time to address questions in class, and maximizes your learning. Because the videos are an important instructional component and take time to watch, our classes will end about a half-hour early to "compensate" you for this time.

I have carefully designed my videos to improve your study time. The lecture videos are delivered 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 "Flash" format, as "mp4" downloads, and as podcasts (on iTunes). See my "Videos, Podcasts, iTunes" webpage for more information. I think that you will enjoy these lecture videos.

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. There is a link in the ICON course to Moodle.

The "Course Calendar" webpage shows dates and topics for this course.

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.

A break of 10 minutes will be provided at the mid-point of class.

Required Textbook

"Statistical Techniques in Business & Economics," 15th Ed., Douglas A. Lind, William G. Marchal, and Samuel A. Wathen, McGraw Hill Irwin, 2012. ISBN 978-0-07-340180-5. The 13th, 14th, or 16th editions will also work. I recommend getting the version that best suits your budget. This textbook is a good reference textbook, and it also provides many solved problems.

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 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 STEAD, which are the university's and the College of Business computer support departments, respectively.

Computer and Internet: For this course you can use either a PC or a Macintosh computer. However, "officially" the College of Business supports PCs and there may be a few software features that only work on PCs. If you are a Macintosh user consider installing a MS Windows emulator on your Mac, such as Parallels,VMWare, or VirtualBox. STEAD and ITS can help with installing this software. Make sure that you have access to this software before the course begins.

Many past students have found it extremely helpful to bring laptops to class, especially for following along with the Excel techniques demonstrated in class. The classroom has wireless Internet. On the other hand, some students prefer the traditional way of taking notes, i.e., with paper and pencil. I encourage both methods; please do whatever helps you learn best. I ask only that you refrain from surfing the web, checking email, playing games, etc. during class time if you do choose to bring a laptop.

Course Software: This course requires the following application software: Excel (2010, 2011, 2013/365 or 2016). It is recommended to have Excel 2016 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.

Browser requirements: You will need a modern browser (at least at IE9, Firefox 5, Safari 6, Chrome X, or equivalent or newer.)  “Flash” is optional, yet helpful for viewing “streaming” versions of videos, but videos can be viewed even without Flash.

Email: Email is the most common method of communication for this course. Students can expect to receive weekly communications from the instructor (via email) introducing assigned course work and the topics to be presented on the pre-recorded demonstrations. Students are expected to check their email account several times a week. You will also be receiving emails from Moodle for forum discussions.

Acrobat, iTunes (or other feed aggregate, such as Podcast Republic) Video Player, Screen Capture, and Email: The latest version of Adobe Reader must be installed in your computer in order to access course materials posted as PDFs. You should have an email account (UIowa or other). iTunes and QuickTime are optional but provide another alternative to accessing videos. Videos can also be downloaded and played by many other video players, such as Windows Media Player or by Podcast Republic (for Androids.) 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 those students who are on-campus. Students can also use the public computers that are available in the building.

Mobile Devices: Most of this course's materials are designed 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."

Clickers: Clickers will be used to improve participation. You do not need to purchase clickers. Clickers will be provided by the professor.

A pre-course assignment (see Course Calendar) 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.

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, UIowa computers, etc., should be directed to either STEAD, ITS, or The Division of Continuing Education.

Grading Criteria

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

Attendance and participation: 5%
Self-Assessments: 45%
Two Exams: 50%

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 about half the grades be in the "A" category, and approximately half in the "B" category.

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 topic is turned on for you on Moodle. With this approach, just about every assignment, except exams, is available to you for two weeks. All assignments have due dates (Tuesdays), that show in Moodle's "Calendar" and in Moodle's "Upcoming Events." When the due date expires, the assignment is over. I encourage you to begin assignments early. Also, I try my hardest to help everyone who seeks my help prior to 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.)

Attendance & Participation: Regular attendance and participation is encouraged and will lead to success 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. 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 homework, I encourage you to begin early and complete at least one attempt so that you hopefully will not end up with a zero.

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, but you will have a period of 24 hours and can decide when to begin. Exams must be taken individually, and there will be severe consequences for those who do not follow this rule. 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 3% improvement to your overall grade.

Course Policies

Due Dates & Missed Deadlines: All assignments are due one the date and time noted in the Moodle calendar and is typically Tuesdays at 11:55PM. Since many topics build upon previous topics, missed assignments should still be completed. However, late assignments are not accepted and the student earns a zero grade on these.

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

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

Student Support

Accommodations: Students seeking classroom and/or exam accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services (SDS):

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 for the School of Management. In addition to the academic sanction, the student may be provided a programmatic sanction that could include disciplinary probation or expulsion.

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

Sexual Harassment: The University will not tolerate sexual harassment, nor will it tolerate unwelcomed behavior of a sexual nature toward members of the University community when that behavior creates an intimidating or hostile environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately.

See the UI Comprehensive Guide on Sexual Harassment for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy: guidelines_0.pdf. Concerns regarding sexual harassment should be directed to the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator

Grievance Policy: Student concerns regarding this course should first be discussed with me. If we can't resolve the complaint, you may contact the DEO of Management Sciences, Nick Street at (319) 335-0890 or If you cannot resolve the complaint by speaking with the DEO, you may contact the Dean.