Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
The version of the text we were provided had the trigonometry chapters cut out (This was done simply by clipping the pdf rather than recompiling the latex, so the table of contents and index still reflect the full text, which is silly and unprofessional, but only a very minor point.).
In order to cover the material we cover in precalculus the trigonometry sections would need to be put back in. Chapters 7,8, and 9 are unnecessary for our precalculus course; they are covered in other introductory math/macm courses.
The index is comprehensive, and the pdf is searchable.
The background assumed is generally appropriate. There are a few small exceptions, for example students are expected to know polynomial division. Some common student points of confusion are clarified, though others are not. For example in 1.1.2 the distinction between (a,b) as interval notation and (a,b) as a point in the cartesian plane is not clarified.
There are some important issues with regard to intended audience, which will be dealt with more substantially in a later question, but in summary this text seems to be targeted to mathies in spirit (not in difficulty) despite the fact that in our system such people will have covered this material before university and so will not be in our precalculus classes.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
Accuracy seems very good. I did not see any errors; however, I did not give a line by line reading so may have missed some errors.
Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
There are some cultural references which will not age well, but they are more stylistic issues than content issues. For example the movie "8.99999..." is a joke which will not resonate once the original movie (from 2009) has been largely forgotten, and "hooked on conics" is a joke for those of us who grew up in the '90s and watched some American TV. I would not view this as a major issue.
All computational examples expect a graphing calculator. As far as I have seen these single purpose devices are not used out in the real world, their only benefit seeming to be that some jurisdictions require them in high school so students from these jurisdictions already have them. An open text might be favourable to discussing an open CAS (computer algebra system) which students could use no matter where they go next, but the standard commercial CASs are also good and widely available choices, and as graphing calculator apps for smart phones mature they will become increasingly viable, not to mention web tools like Wolfram Alpha.
On the positive side, there are many weblinks, to Wikipedia as well as to other sources, particularly to support asides and problems with data.
Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
The authors voices come through loud and clear in a very charming way. It is quite conversational, and commendable in how well it puts the jargon in context and avoids unnecessary jargon. It has many asides and comments, mostly in footnotes, which enrich the text but can also be distracting or confusing. Similarly, the conversational style, while generally increasing readability, will be a challenge for some ESL students, particularly along with the jokes and asides which require American cultural knowledge.
I feel that the prose and style of this book is simultaneously its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. I liked reading this book; I would have liked learning out of it when I was first encountering this material. Although very much itself (particularly the way the authors banter with each other), its style has some similarities to Spivak's calculus, which has a great cult following in the mathie crowd.
However, the mathie crowd is very much not the audience of our precalculus courses, and I think the typical precalculus student's response to the style would be half confusion and half eye-rolling.
I am particularly mystified by this as the authors are both at community colleges. Is their education system sufficiently different from ours that they get the sort of geeky audience who would appreciate this book? Do I misestimate our students' interests and abilities? Do the authors' students largely not get it?
Ultimately I can only recommend that an instructor looking at this text look at the style and consider whether it fits with their own style and whether it is likely to be appreciated by their students.
Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
The text is generally consistent. It makes explicit reference to itself in useful but not excessive ways. It is well structured.
When the consistency is weaker it is in places where standard usage is often inconsistent, for example in colloquial usage "larger" for a negative number can sometimes mean larger in absolute value and sometimes greater than. The text makes some effort to be clear on this matter, see for instance the footnote on p304, but consistency without excess pedantry is near impossible in such cases.
Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
The sections are of a reasonable length. The dependencies within the text make sense given the material, and are generally clear.
Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
Notwithstanding the style comments mentioned in a previous question, the presentation is sensible and is appropriately rigorous for the level; the proofs of many results are beyond the scope of such a course but the authors make efforts to motivate and contextualize the results so that the reader can largely see how they can be natural and important even though they cannot prove them.
The order is fairly standard and the authors explain their reasoning behind those deviations from standard order which they use.
There are some cases where sections do not flow well, for example section 1.1 begins with sets of numbers and moves onto interval notation which together form 1.1.1, and then jumps in 1.1.2 to cartesian coordinates. These initial sections are essentially developing background for use in the upcoming chapters on functions, and so by their nature are somewhat disjointed.
Organization Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
While not glossy like commercial textbooks, the book is clean and professional. The pdf contains useful internal links and external links. The one exception to the professionalism of the text is that certain sections were cut in the pdf we were given, but the latex was not recompiled, so the table of contents and index did not reflect the cuts.
Interface Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
I saw no grammatical errors.
Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
The book is not insensitive or offensive in any way. The core material and most problems are purely mathematical. Only some problems and asides touch cultural issues at all.
The problems based on real world data are all based on American data. Broadening the sources of data would improve the book. The occasional problems involving units are imperial, not metric. The book makes American cultural references, but generally ones which would also be familiar to Canadian students, such as popular movies.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
Two final comments. First, the authors leave some unanswered questions (such as some well placed "why?"s) for the reader to think about. These are great for stronger students but will frustrate those who aren't getting it. Second, I find the matrix chapter weak, but it is not relevant to the precalculus course we offer in any case.
Generally, I find the book very charming, but am concerned that the intended audience may not have the same response to it.