Business Analytics
Summer 2019

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

Course Information

Days & Times: In-class: N/A
Online: The course starts on Monday, May 13. There are no meeting times. This course is asynchronous.
Location: In-class: N/A
Online: There is no location. You can work from anywhere that is convenient to you.
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: or
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office Hours: I can always be reached by email or from discussion posts.

MBA Program Goals

The administrative home of this course is the Tippie MBA Program, which governs academic matters relating to the course. The Tippie MBA program has learning goals that drive decisions about curriculum and assignments within courses. These goals are: 1) grow human capital through attaining relevant business knowledge and skills; 2) generate integrative solutions to business problems that impact organizations 3) develop global business perspectives; 4) understand and demonstrate the importance of acting with integrity and social responsibility and 5) demonstrate the ability to be effective team members and leaders in a complex and diverse world.

The primary emphases on this course are goal #1, the attainment of relevant business knowledge and skills; goal #2, to integrate these skills and knowledge to solve business problems that impact organizations; and goal #5, to be an effective team member by adding a quantitative, and objective component to team decisions. Goal # 3, that quantitative analysis has global impact, and goal #4, that quantitative analysis is an objective methodology that supports integrity and social responsibility, are both present in this course.

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 MBA program

Course Structure

This is an 11-week course, and depending upon the semester, offered in both in-class as a hybrid format, and online sessions. The course content and assignments are the same. The only difference is that in-class students are in a physical classroom. This syllabus serves both formats.

About a week before the topic, as shown on the Course Calendar web page, I turn on that topic's material in my Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle. There is a link in the ICON course to 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. There is no cost for Moodle.

For in-class students, watch these lecture videos before class and begin the readings. In class, I will briefly review what I covered in my lecture videos, and then we will work through more problems and exercises to "reinforce" your learning, and I will address your questions. Typically the day of class I post information about what we will be doing that evening. Because the videos are an important instructional component and take your time to watch, our classes will end about an hour early to "compensate" you for this time. Within a day after class, I will provide you a "reinforcement video" that reviews what we did in class. This method will allow us to use our time together productively, give us ample time to address questions in class, and maximize your learning. Classroom sessions are recorded and placed into the ICON course, but quite honestly, most students prefer watching my reinforcement videos because they are edited, shorter, and clearer. A break of about 10 minutes will be provided at the mid-point of class.

For online students, you should typically watch my lecture videos and do the readings, then attempt the assignments. The day after the topic date (as shown on the Course Calendar web page) I make my "reinforcement" video and a reinforcement web page available to you. You should watch these videos and follow along with my instruction. Since my videos and course materials are delivered asynchronously, you can pick your study times when you are most productive learning.

For every week, in Moodle, I have a discussion forum for students to ask questions. All students in our semester see these questions. Or, you can always email me your questions.

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 "mp4" format and can be played directly from most browsers, and they are available as podcasts. See my "Videos, Podcasts, iTunes" webpage for more information about the variety of ways to watch my videos. 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, Moodle, 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.

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

"Statistical Techniques in Business & Economics," 17th Ed., Douglas A. Lind, William G. Marchal, and Samuel A. Wathen, McGraw Hill Irwin, 2018. ISBN 978-1259666360. This textbook can be purchased from the UIowa Bookstore. The 13th, 14th, 15th, or 16th editions are permitted but must be purchased elsewhere. Note: no special DVDs or software keys are required, just the textbook.

I recommend getting the version that best suits your budget. 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 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, which are the university and the College of Business computer support departments, respectively.

Computer and Internet: Computer with Internet access, preferably broadband wired connections with upload and download speeds of at least 1 Mbps. 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. ITS or STSG 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.

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.

Browser requirements: You will need a modern browser that is up to date (Internet Explorer 11, Edge, Firefox, Safari, Chrome X, or equivalent.)

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 (via email) when each topic is released. 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 aggregator, such as Podcast Republic) 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. 

iTunes or a different "feed aggregator," such as Podcast Republic (for Androids), is optional but provides another alternative method to access videos. Videos can also be downloaded and played by many other video players, such as Windows Media Player or QuickTime player.

The posted videos play within most browsers. Optionally, you might want to download videos and use a more powerful video player on your computer. For example, some students like the VLC (PC or Mac) or the Elmedia player (Mac.)

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: For in-class sections, clickers will be used to improve participation. You do not need to purchase clickers. Clickers will be provided at no cost.

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 STSG or ITS.

Accessibility: You will find this course designed with accessibility in mind, including students with our without special needs. Here is additional information about Moodle's Accessibility.

Grading Criteria

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

Participation: 5%
Weekly Self-Assessments: 45%
First Exam: 25%
Second Exam: 25%

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.

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 (Fridays), 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: For in-class sections, I highly recommend attending the first night night to understand the hybrid nature of this course. After the first night, the attendance policy becomes lenient. Some students enjoy being in class, and some students do well with the variety of resources that I provide. We will talk more about this the first night.

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. 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 will be timed, but 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. 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 to 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.

Make Up Exams: Make up exams will only be given for extreme situations. 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. Also, at my discretion, I can ask you to find an instructor or administrator from a university to proctor your exam.

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, online discussions, assignments, and other interactions, a courteous tone, politeness, and professionalism tone is expected. For tips on "Netiquette" technique, go to:

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: Moodle is a private Learning Management System. Keep your password private and do not share it with others. I keep your personal email addresses and phone numbers private. The data that Moodle collects is not shared with others as I honor FERPA guidelines. Here is a link to Moodle's Data Privacy web page, and I am my Moodle's Privacy Officer.

Collegiate Policies

Show the Tippie Collegiate Policies and Guidelines

University Policies

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.