Business Analytics - Online
Summer 2018

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

Course Information

Days & Times: The course officially begins on May 14.
Note: This course is online and "asynchronous." New topics will be released Mondays, and Tuesday evenings will be the due date for most assignments.
Location: Online and asynchronous. You do not need to be at your computer at any specific time or day.
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: or
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office Hours: I am available via email regularly.

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 course is an 11-week online course.

This course is an “online” course utilizing the “asynchronous learning” model and makes extensive use of my lecture and instructional videos.  Each week (usually on Mondays) new topics are provided 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.

I have carefully designed my lecture videos to improve your study time, and I think that you will enjoy them. The lecture videos are delivered asynchronously, meaning that you do not have to be behind your computer at any specified time to hear them. You can study when you are most productive! These videos are provided in "mp4" format and can be played directly from most browsers, are mobile compatible, and they are available as podcasts (on iTunes). See my "Videos, Podcasts, iTunes" webpage for more information about the several ways to access and play these 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 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 you do not understand something.

The "Course Calendar" webpage shows topics, topic and exam dates, and readings 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. The 13th, 14th, 15th, or 16th editions will also work. I recommend getting the version that best suits your budget. This textbook is an excellent reference textbook, and it also provides many solved problems. Note: no special DVDs or software keys are required, just the textbook.

See FAQ - How to keep the textbook cost affordable. Earlier editions of this textbook are often found for 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 (Stead), which are the university's and the College of Business' computer support departments, respectively.

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. The "Course Introduction" video also explains this pre-course assignment.

Computer and Internet: For this course, you can use either a PC or a Macintosh computer. However, "officially" since this course is within the Management Sciences Department of the College of Business its policy states that students should have a PC. There may be a few software features that only work only on PCs. When this occurs, Mac users can either install a PC-emulator product, or they can run Excel from the UIowa Virtual Desktop.

Internet access, preferably broadband wired connections with upload and download speeds of at least 1 Mbps.

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. 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 (Internet Explorer 11, Edge, Firefox, Safari, Chrome X, or equivalent.)

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 coursework and the topics to be presented in the lecture videos. Students are expected to check their email account several times a week. You will also be receiving emails periodically from Moodle's forum discussions.

Acrobat, Email, iTunes (or other feed aggregator,) Video Player, Screen Capture

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

You should have an email account (UIowa or other).

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.

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.

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."

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.

Grading Criteria

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

Attendance and participation: 5%
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 about half the grades be in the "A" category, and approximately half in the "B" category.

Timing for Assignments: 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 new 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 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.)

Participation: Regular participation 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.

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.

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 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 in your overall grade.

Course Policies

Makeup Exams: Makeup 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 assignment or exam grade, you have a week to dispute your score. Beyond this period, I will not entertain any disputes.

Student Support

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

Accommodations: Show the UIowa Accommodations Policy.

Sexual Harassment: Show the UIowa Sexual Harassment Policy.

Grievance Policy: Show the Tippie Grievance Policy.