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PRST 5770/6770/7770 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

PRST 5770/6770/7770 - Computer-Based Decision Modeling

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course is about modeling and analyzing managerial problems on spreadsheets. One does not need to be an expert Excel user to benefit from this course. To the contrary, the spreadsheet modeling experience in this course will enhance not only analytical problem solving capabilities but also spreadsheet skills of even an experienced Excel user. The power of spreadsheet analysis has been increased greatly by the development of add-ins and tools with which a typical Excel user may not be familiar. This course will start with very basic features and functions of Excel, and then introduce how to apply some of the advanced tools. Activities are an important part of this course. This course utilizes kinesthetic, or tactile, education – learning by doing. Although no group work is required, class members will be required to help educate others in their discovery of this knowledge through participation in online discussions. Participation is key.

The best managers know when to use mathematical tools to support or give insight into a decision. There are many times when the complexity of a decision is such that we as humans are unable to take into account the breadth and/or depth of the problem. Fortunately, computers play an important supporting role in making these decisions, allowing us to focus on the algorithms and the results, not the tedium of the mathematics. The combination of mathematical management tools and computers to solve business problems is the focus of this class. A module is only as good as the quality of data input, the proper methods for setting it up, and how the module is interpreted.

Course Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • identify situations in which a spreadsheet model may improve managerial decision-making;
  • design, develop, test, and error-correct business spreadsheet models for decision support;
  • understand and apply optimization techniques to business models to improve decision making;
  • interpret results of models in the context of a business problem
  • utilize existing models to find solutions to changing situations;
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

A basic understanding of business calculations such as revenue, profit, cost, inventory, etc. and their role in business decisions. Mathematical abilities consistent with a standard undergraduate degree (through college algebra) are expected.


Course Topics:
  • Module 1: Basics of Budgeting & Decision-making
  • Module 2: Financial Projections & What if Analysis
  • Module 3: Charts and Tables
  • Module 4: Pivot, Pivot Tables, Pivot Charts & more
  • Module 5: Complex Problem Solving
  • Module 6: More about Solver
Specific Course Requirements:

You must have access to Microsoft Excel (either 2013 or 2016). Each home school offers Microsoft Office to its students. See below under the Hardware and Software requirements for additional details.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

A second textbook will be used, but it is a free download from Effective Management Decision-making: An Introduction by Ian Pownall

ISBN: 978-87-403-0120-5
Pages: 236 (with ads)

Link to to download the free book (in 4 easy steps) Effective Management Decision Making

This course relies on Excel. All home school campuses offer Microsoft Office for their students. Please check with your Distant Learning Coordinator or the IT Department to learn how to download this software, if you currently do not have Microsoft Office installed on your computer. Some campuses have already upgraded to Office 2016 editions, which is fine. Either Office 2016 or Office 2013 will work. Later versions will not.

Please make sure pop ups are allowed in order to access publisher information. Depending on what browser you use, the publisher has created a document outlining certain minimum computer requirements and steps for making the learning process easier. Here is the link to Cengage System Requirements for Projects (new window, PDF)

Additional relevant articles and resources will be posted at the course site for student use in accordance with the University's copyright policies. The instructor will provide these additional articles to the students approximately one week before the readings are used in discussion.

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Grading Procedures:
Grading Scale:

Letter grades for this course will be assigned based on the following scale.

Point Range Assigned Grade
900 - 1000 PointsA
800 - 899 PointsB
700 - 799 PointsC
600 - 699 PointsD
under 600 PointsF

Graded Items

2 Introductory Assignments @ 10 points each20
6 Discussions, @ 20 points each120
6 Projects, @ 50 points each300
6 Papers, @ 30 points each180
6 Quizzes, @ 20 points each120
6 Reflective Journal @ 10 points each60
Mid-term Exam @ 100 points100
Final Exam @ 100 points100
2 bonus assignments @ 50 points each. Modules 2, 4100
Total Points1100*

*1100 points possible with the completion of the two bonus assignments.


Assignments and Projects:

Each module is laid out the same. The graded assignments are listed below. In addition, most modules will include several practice projects, to reinforce the learning concepts. Since the focus is on learning, and not memorizing, most assignments may be done more than once. Practice will be the most important aspect of learning these features and functions.

Discussions: The discussions are generally based on the second textbook (Effective Management Decision Making). Specific questions will be posed. Students are asked to make a detailed initial post, and to respond to a minimum of 3 of their classmates posts with value-added comments. Posts should be made on at least 3 different days. Only one discussion per module.

Projects: Projects are designed to show the application of the material covered in the Microsoft Excel textbook. These will be done through SAM (publisher's outside link). There are practice projects included (which are highly recommended) before completing the graded project. However, the graded project may be submitted again (a total of 2 submissions allowed), and your highest grade is recorded.

Papers: Papers will be written, based on the findings from the graded Project. Papers will provide a management perspective about the model, results, weaknesses, interpretation, etc.. Specific guidelines will be given for the topics to be addressed.

Quizzes: Each module will have a 10 question multiple-choice quiz based on the information found in the Microsoft Excel textbook. The quiz may be taken up to a maximum of 3 times, with the highest score recorded.

Reflections: After completing all required assignments, students are asked to reflect on the material covered in that module and how it can be utilized in their personal and professional lives.

Mid-term and Final exams: Students will have both a mid-term and a final exam. The mid-term is based on information covered from Module 1, 2 and 3. The final exam will be based on all material covered.

Bonus assignments: Late work is not accepted. Instead, there are two opportunities to earn bonus points. The first opportunity (Module 2) also serves as a practice for the mid-term exam. And the second opportunity (Module 4) serves as a practice for the completion of the Module 6 project and the final exam.

Class Participation:

Class participation is imperative. This includes practicing the techniques through SAM, as well as completing graded projects. This includes discussions, which require posts on multiple days to receive full credit. Students are expected to sign into the course at least 3 times per week (minimum), to read emails, respond to discussions, and practice computer-based techniques. There is a heavy amount of reading and practice assignments in each module. It is important to realize Modules cover 2 weeks of assignments. Plan accordingly.

Late Policy:

Late work is not accepted. The course builds on information, and allows 2 weeks to complete each module. In lieu of late work, there will be two (2) opportunities to earn bonus points.

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on June 23, 2017