ISMG 2050 - Introduction to Business Problem Solving 
Spring 2008

Instructor: Dr. Dawn Gregg
Office Location: 1250 14th Street, Office 256
Office Phone: (303) 315-8449

Course Syllabus
Course Description

Introduction to Business Problem Solving prepares students to analyze data and solve real-life business problems, using spreadsheet, database and Web tools. It challenges students to use critical thinking and analysis to find efficient and effective solutions to real-life business situations. This course introduces students to the problem solving and decision making skills they will need to be successful both at the University and in a business environment. Students will solve problems in statistics, accounting, finance, marketing, management, and information systems.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course the student should be able to:

  1. Apply fundamental spreadsheet skills and tools in problem solving including solving problems with statistical analysis tools, performing what-if analysis with data tables and scenarios, and enhancing decision making with goal seek and solver.
  2. Understand introductory relational database concepts including database terminology and build tables queries forms and reports.
  3. Determine effective data display with charts, and applying logic in decision making.
  4. Using Web tools to present and share information.

Required Materials


Excel Complete Microsoft Office Excel 2003
Illustrated Complete   2006
Elizabeth Eisner Reding and Lynn Wermers
ISBN: 1-4188-4296-6
Access Introductory Microsoft Office Access 2003
Illustrated Introductory  2006
Lisa Friedrichsen
ISBN: 1-4188-4298-2
Problem-Solving Cases Problem-Solving Cases in Access and Excel,
Fourth Annual Edition  2007
Ellen Monk and Joseph Brady
  • In addition, there are lecture notes available on eCollege. You will need to access them and listen to my lectures,  they include material that is not in the books that will be on the exam!!!.


  • You will need Microsoft Office Excel and Microsoft Office Access 2003 or 2007 to complete the Assignments.
  • You can use these programs in the computer lab in KC 216 on the CU Denver campus.
  • There is a demo version of both Microsoft Office Excel and Microsoft Office Access 2003 in the Problem Solving Cases Book, however the demo only lasts 30 days so you will need to work ahead if you are going to use the demo for all assignments. 

Weekly Activities

Students need to log in to the course regularly to check announcements, participate in discussions and access course content. At a minimum every week students are responsible for completing the following tasks:

  • Read my weekly objectives and checklist on the week homepage. This gives an overview of activities to be completed in the coming week .
  • Listen to, watch or read my lecture. This covers all of the new material we are learning for the week.
    • Lecture notes are available at least 2 weeks prior to the actual lecture.
    • Breeze recordings (audio & video) of my lectures can be accessed any time.
    Each lecture is broken into 2 short segments and most weekly lectures last about an half an hour.
  • Complete the weekly tutorials (usually 2) before the end of the week (Sunday at midnight).
  • Check for any assignments or problem solving cases to be started/continued each week. Every week you should be working on either a short homework or a longer problem solving case and you need to start these early so you have time to ask questions about them in the question & answer forum.
  • Go to the Question & Answer center several times throughout the week. I will answer/follow-up on questions and give hints about the assignments there.

Contacting Me

My office hours are Tuesday & Thursday from 2 PM to 3 PM. I am also available regularly during the week via phone and email.

My courses can be difficult and often students get to places in their assignments where they do not know what to do next. I encourage you to ask questions in the online Q&A forum, at office hours and via email.  Always include the course number (ISMG 2050) and your name in the email.

When asking a question via email please do the following:

  • Clearly give me a specific question. 
  • If you have an error message(s) you do not understand put a copy of the error message(s) in the email and attach your file so I can see where it occurs.
  • If your file runs strangely describe the behavior and attach your file (e.g. I added the formula and then nothing happens)
  • If you do not understand what is expected - explain what parts of the assignment you do not understand.
  • If you are having difficulty deciding how to approach a problem - describe to me what you think you should be doing and I will let you know what you have right & where you might be wrong.
  • DO NOT email me and say here is what I have so far what do I do next.

As a general policy, I will respond to phone calls and emails within 24 hours. Typically, I can respond to emails within one to two hours during regular business hours and 4 to 5 hours during off hours (although it can take me longer on the weekends). Face-to-face meetings can be scheduled by calling or emailing.

All students are responsible for keeping all contact information up to date with the University. University policy is that the university provided email is the only method faculty should use to contact students. If you do not check your email address regularly, you will be missing important information from the College.

Work Completion Policy

You should expect to spend between 4-6 hours per week on this course. This includes the time you will need to complete the tutorials, as well as any homework, problem solving cases, quizzes or discussions that week. Do not expect to succeed in this course if you do not allocate 4-6 hours a week for this class!

All tutorials will need to be completed by Sunday at 6 PM on the week they are assigned. Homework assignments will usually be due on Wednesday at 6 PM the following week. 

In general I do not accept Tutorials and Assignments late. There may be group/class discussions regarding the assignments immediately after they are due and thus it is imperative that work be complete ON TIME

I do understand that sometimes work or other pressures make it difficult to submit an assignment on time - so I do drop your lowest 2 tutorials and your lowest homework assignment.

Academic Honesty

All quizzes, tests, tutorials and problem solving cases are to be done individually unless otherwise specified. All work submitted should include citations or other indications when other's work is included with your own. Academic Dishonesty is not tolerated and will result in a zero on the assignment and reporting of the incident to the Business School's Internal Affairs Committee. The following are considered Academic Dishonesty:

  • Copying the work of current or past ISMG 2050 students
  • Plagiarism of material found in books, magazines or on the Web
  • Work purchased from "paper mills" or a code writing service.
  • Working collaboratively on individual assignments except to provide debugging/editing assistance
  • Providing assignment solutions (total or partial) to any other ISMG 2050 student!
  • Copying the files, design or paper submitted by a past or current ISMG 2050 student

Cheating on an exam will result in an automatic F for the course!  The penalty for subsequent academic dishonesty incidents can involve removal from the IS program and/or from CU Denver.

The instructor may make use of anti-cheating services to ensure that submitted work is original.

Finally, cheating diminishes the value of your learning. If you find yourself struggling in this course, please contact the instructor!

Assignments & Exams

Learning to decompose a problem and develop a solution involves doing. Students cannot just listen to a lecture and know how to solve a business problem. To improve students' problem solving abilities the course includes numerous short assignments and longer problem solving cases that give students practice solving realistic business problems. These are graded and returned as soon as possible so students know how they are doing in my class.

  • Class Participation: Following my lectures students should complete the short weekly quiz to test their knowledge of the material covered. The class participation grade will be based on the percentage of these questions each student answers.
  • Tutorials: You will complete two tutorials nearly every week. All tutorials must be submitted by Saturday at midnight following the week in which they were assigned. I will drop the lowest two tutorial grades for each student at the end of the semester.
  • Homework: You will complete several short homework assignments during the course of the semester. The goal for homework is for you to become comfortable with different software systems and problem solving processes. It is important for students to try and hand in every homework assignment - even if it does not work 100% correctly! I will drop the lowest homework grade at the end of the semester. My homework expectations, grading rubric, and a sample homework write-up can be found HERE.
  • Problem Solving Cases: Several longer problem solving cases will be completed over the course of the semester. These are larger scale problems designed to resemble real problems you might be asked to solve in a business environment. Each problem solving case generally requires a substantial amount of effort on the part of students (10 - 20 hours per project depending on the student) so please allow enough time to complete the case before the due date. You will be asked to present one of your problem solving cases to the class. Detailed grading requirements will be distributed with each problem solving case.
  • Exams: There will be two mid-term exams and one Final exam. The exams will be given only on the scheduled dates. Question Formats may include: multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and short essay questions.

    Failure to complete your exam during the scheduled timewill result in a zero for the examination. In cases of extremely extenuating circumstances (i.e. documented circumstances clearly beyond the student's control) a make-up exam may be given. However, the student must request the make-up exam in writing within 24 hours of the original exam date.

    If you know in advance that you will not be able to attend an exam because of extenuating circumstances beyond your control you may request a make-up exam. Requests for make-up exams must be made in writing at least 1 full week prior to the class section in which the exam is scheduled to be given. If the request for a make-up exam is approved, a make-up exam will then be scheduled.

    24 hours prior to a scheduled make-up exam, it is the student's responsibility to confirm via email that they still plan on attending the make-up exam at the given date and time. If the student no longer needs to take a make-up exam - the student must cancel the make-up exam via email 24 hours in advance of the scheduled make-up exam time. Failure to attend a make-up exam will result in a 0 for the exam.

Assignment Submission

Unless otherwise stated, students will be required to turn in tutorials and assignments using the dropbox (upper navigation pane at eCollege). Each assignment will have a specific place to be handed in within the dropbox.


Final Grades for this class will be based on your performance in class work & discussions, homework problems, individual problem solving cases, two midterms and a final exam. Weightings will be applied as follows:  

A: Class Participation & Knowledge Surveys 6.2%
B: Tutorials 8.8%
C: Homework 10%
D: Problem Solving Cases (3) 30%
E: Exams 45%

Students can view their current grade inside side the course gradebook (see menu above).

Grading Scale

Letter Grades are typically assigned as follows:

A        (4.0)          93% - 100%     superior/excellent
A-               (3.7) 90% - 92.999%      
B+ (3.3) 87% - 89.999%  
B (3.0) 83% - 86.999%            good/better than average
B- (2.7) 80% - 82.999%      
C+ (2.3) 77% - 79.999%  
C (2.0) 73% - 76.999% average (minimum passing b-school core)
C- (1.7) 70% - 72.999%      
D+ (1.3) 67% - 69.999%  
D (1.0) 63% - 66.999% minimum passing (non-core)
D- (0.7) 60% - 62.999%  
F (0.0)   0% - 59.999% failing


The Business School now requires that all students in the Business Program earn a grade of at least a C (2.0) in the courses in the Business Core taken in Fall 2007 or later.  

(a)  In order to graduate, you must earn a grade of C or better in all Business Core courses taken in Fall 2007 or later.  

(b)  In addition, in order to enroll in subsequent courses for which the Core course is a prerequisite, you must earn a C or better in the prerequisite Core course that is taken in Fall 2007 or later.

Note: Grading policies of the CU Denver Business School state that the average GPA across all students in an undergraduate class should generally fall within the following range: 2.3 (C+) to 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale. Therefore, if necessary, the ranges above will be modified so the average GPA across all students in the class falls within the recommended range.

Course Outline

Course Outline

Week Topics Assignments
1 Introduction to Problem Solving
Unit A: Getting Started with Excel 2003
Know. Survey
Excel 2003
Unit B: Building and Editing Worksheets
Hwrk 1
2 Excel 2003
Unit C: Formatting Worksheets
  Excel 2003
Unit D: Working with Charts
Hwrk 2
3 Excel 2003
Unit E: Working with Formulas and Functions
Excel 2003
Unit K: Using What-If Analysis
PS Case 1
4 Problem Solving Cases Tutorial C: Building a DSS in Excel  
Problem Solving Cases Tutorial D: Building a DSS using Solver  
5 Work on PS Case/Midterm Review  
  Midterm 1
6 Excel 2003
Unit H: Using Lists
Hwrk 3
Problem Solving Cases Tutorial A: Database Design (Read)
Access 2003 Unit A: Getting Started with Access 2003 (Do)
Access 2003
Unit B: Using Tables and Queries
Hwrk 4
Access 2003
Unit C: Using Forms
8 Access 2003
Unit D: Using Reports
PS Case 2
Access 2003
Unit E: Creating Related Tables
Access 2003
Unit F: Creating Multi-Table Queries
Problem Solving Cases Tutorial B: MS Access Tutorial  
10  Midterm Review / Work on PS Case  
Midterm 2  
11  Excel 2003
Unit J: Enhancing Charts and Worksheets
Hwrk 5
Excel 2003
Unit L: Analyzing Data with PivotTables
12  Excel 2003
Unit M: Exchanging Data with Other Programs (Integrating with Access)
PS Case 3
Excel 2003
Unit G: Automating Worksheet Tasks
13  Excel 2003
Unit P: Programming with Excel
Work on PS Case
 14 Web Page & Web Site Design
(Tutorial Handout Web-1)
Hyperlinks and Images
(Tutorial Handout Web-2)
15  Web 2.0 Tools
(Tutorial Handout Web-3)
Hwrk 6
Giving Effective Presentations Know. Survey
16 Final Exam

Chapter assignments are from:

Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Illustrated Complete
Microsoft Office Access 2003 Illustrated Introductory
Problem-Solving Cases in Access and Excel

Technical Requirements

You are responsible for maintaining or accessing a computer system capable of presenting this course. This includes, but is not limited to, running the eCollege software, running the Breeze streaming lectures, Real One player and Web browsing.

At this point, a Windows PC is required to access all of the course material. If you use a Macintosh or other system, you may need to find access to a PC to view the streaming course lectures. The other course content, including reading guides, quizzes and discussions should work fine without a PC.

While a broadband connection to the Internet is not required for this course it is highly recommended that you access the course with a DSL or cable modem Most of the materials for this course are available online. Many of these materials are large streaming media files. Access of this course over a dial-up connection may require significant waiting periods for download.

If for any reason you are having technical difficulties that are limiting or preventing your full participation in the class, please notify the instructor immediately! I will work with you to ensure that your online learning experience is not hampered by technical issues.

Succeeding Online

Learning online is both a great educational opportunity and challenge. Although you can better schedule your course time around your needs, you also must take a greater responsibility for managing your time and getting work done. Not having to travel to campus is a great advantage (and saves on parking!) but you will find that not having a class means you have to do more written work since you cannot receive grades for class participation of attendance.

This course is structure with work every week and graded assignments due most weeks. The best way to succeed in this environment is to plan on doing weekly work to stay on top of the course load, and don't fall behind. I suggest you schedule 6-8 hours of time in your week to handle the course work. This equates to roughly 3 hours of "in-class" time and 3-5 hours of homework time.

Students who fall behind may find it very difficult to catch up. The best approach is to schedule the time and keep up with work. Saving study and assignment completion until Sunday evening is not typically the most successful approach.

Other Policies

Code of Conduct

As a University of Colorado at Denver student (or taking a UCD class) you are expected to abide by the University of Colorado at Denver Student Code of Conduct. The following is a link for the University of Colorado at Denver Student Code of Conduct: 

IW/IF Policy

According to college policy, in order to receive an IF or IW the following five items must have been completed or approved:

  • Student must have completed at least 75% of the course with a passing grade and there must be compelling extraordinary verifiable circumstances beyond the student's control which made the completion of the course impossible.
  • Student must submit a copy of the syllabus and verification of reason (e.g., doctor's note, letter the dean explaining situation, etc.).
  • Form must be signed by faculty and have attached documents before being submitted to the Associate Dean.
  • Paperwork must be processed and approved by the dean before grades are assigned.
  • Student has one academic year to complete the work as noted by the instructor.

Disability Services Information

To ensure disability-related concerns are properly addressed, students with disabilities who require assistance to participate in this class are expected to contact me as soon as possible. For further information regarding disability-related accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services, 177 Arts Building at 303.556.3450.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA was created to protect the privacy rights of students. To ensure that student privacy is maintained I use the eCollege system to manage grades and graded work. It is your responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of your username and your password so your privacy is maintained.

For more information on FERPA please go to: 

Important Dates

Students are responsible for knowing all academic dates for each semester they are enrolled. Please see the Registrar's website for the full academic calendar.

  • Tuesday, Jan 22 ? first day of classes
  • Sunday, Jan 27 ? last day to add classes using S.M.A.R.T.
  • Monday, Jan 28 ? last day to drop without 100 per course penalty
  • Tuesday, Jan 29 ? students may add class with faculty signature
  • Wednesday, Feb 6 ? (census date) last day to drop classes with tuition adjustment. After this date dropping a class requires instructor approval.
  • March 24-30 ? spring break
  • Monday, Apr 7 ? last day to drop without special petition and signature of the dean. It still needs my signature.
    I will not sign drops after this date for performance reasons unless there is documented evidence showing circumstances beyond the student?s control.
  • May 12-17 ? finals week

IMPORTANT: Homework and class participation quizzes are due is due by 6 PM on Wednesday following the week they were assigned and tutorials are due by 6 PM on Sunday of the week they are assigned. Each course week starts on Monday and runs through Sunday - except week 16 which ends on Friday.