Our large, multi-section Calculus courses serve a broad spectrum of students from USC’s varying colleges and disciplines. In each of these courses we try as much as possible to maintain some uniformity in the quality, content, and level-of-difficulty across instructors and semesters.

But we also encourage individual instructors to innovate and experiment with new teaching methods and materials, especially in the face of changes to classroom environments and emerging technologies.

To balance these competing motivations, the Math Department will assign a Course Coordinator for each course in a given semester and set some expectations:


  • Each course has a required textbook and a list of essential topics based on that book, both established at the department level.
  • Each course has a common system for homework, established by the department. 

    Instructors often assign additional formats of classwork like weekly quizzes, computer or programming labs, discussion activities for small groups, oral exams, or semester-long capstone projects.  There is wide flexibility here.  Such additions are welcome but not required. 

  • Each semester has a common final exam based on the required textbook and topics.

    The group of instructors will write the exam collectively and decide the conditions for that exam, especially whether or not to allow calculators or formula sheets. They will also discuss the grade weight to be assigned for the common final, which is typically 30-40% of the final course grade.  The exam will be graded collectively by the group of instructors and graduate teaching assistants.

    If a student misses a common final exam and is allowed an Incomplete Grade (IN), they may resolve their IN by taking the course’s common final in a subsequent semester.  That semester’s Course Coordinator will communicate with such students and inform them of the conditions and topics represented on that semester’s exam.