Computer-Based Decision Modeling
PRST 5770, 6770, and 7770
3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

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.

This course is not about learning Excel skills ? it is about modeling and analyzing managerial problems on spreadsheets. Working knowledge of Excel will be assumed so that we can focus on the modeling aspects. However, 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 introduce and apply some of these 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.

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, the student should 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 and utilize existing models to find solutions to changing situations;

Prerequisites and Co-requisites:

Students are expected to have a basic understanding of business calculations such as revenue, profit, cost, inventory, etc. and their role in business decisions. Students are also expected to have mathematical abilities consistent with a standard undergraduate degree (through college algebra). Students must have completed PRST5300/6300/7300. Students must be admitted to the Master of Professional Studies Program or have departmental permission.

Course Topics:

Topics covered within the course include basic business spreadsheet modeling, decision support using spreadsheet models, and optimization of business decisions using spreadsheet models. Models will be multidisciplinary in nature, stemming from areas such as operations, finance, and management. The contextual interpretation of results and their use in decisions will be emphasized.

Specific Course Requirements:

Working knowledge of Microsoft Excel. This prerequisite is necessary as the modeling and optimization will be taught within that software package. Excel is the industry standard tool for spreadsheet analysis. The course assumes working knowledge as time will not be used to educate students on basic procedures.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course:

Supplementary Materials:

The CD that comes with the textbook provides additional material.

Hyperlinks will be provided as needed in the course modules.

Hardware Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at
. No additional hardware requirements are necessary. It is recommended that the student have a reasonably quick processor (built within past two years) as some calculations can be extensive and time-consuming on older systems.

Software Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at
. Specific software requirements for this course include Microsoft Excel (I use Excel 2007 although you could supposedly use an earlier version) and a free Solver add-in that is located on the original Microsoft Office CD. The textbook CD includes the add-in SolverTable, which will not be utilized in the course. Additional software available on the textbook CD (Palisade?s Decision Tools) will not be used, but may be extremely useful outside of this course.

Instructor Information

Please see the separate page inside the course Web site to find instructor contact information as well as a statement of virtual office hours and other communication information.

Assessment and Grading

Testing Procedures:

Tests will be administrated periodically via the Web. It will be necessary to use Excel and Solver during the exam time to solve problems. Proctoring is not required.

Grading Procedure:

Grades will be assigned on the scale presented below. Note that there will be no extra credit available and no rounding up of scores at the end of the course.

Grading Scale:

A total of 1000 points will be available to be earned on exams, assignments, and participation in the learning community. Based on the points available, the following will be used in letter grade determination:

A: 900-1000
B: 800-899
C: 700-799

D: 600-699 (may not available at all schools)

F: Below 600

Additionally, to receive a passing grade of ?C? or higher, you must demonstrate a minimum level of individual competency by scoring a 50% or better on either the midterm or final exam.

Points will be available as follows:

Midterm and Final Exam 520 points total

Class Assignments 480 points total

Exams, Assignments, and Participation


A midterm and a comprehensive final will be given. While the final exam must be taken and will count for 26% of your grade, a poor score on the midterm will be replaced by the score on the final exam if it improves your overall grade. If you miss an exam for any reason, you will receive a zero on that exam (which can be replaced by the final if it is the midterm that is missed.) No makeup exams will be available. All exams will be open book and open notes.

Exams will require the modeling of a single business problem using Excel and a computer during the exam time. The model creation part will be followed by a series of questions requiring analysis using your model. Assignments and practice problems provide the best mechanism for exam preparation. No exam questions will require the strict recitation of facts.


Assignments will be due following the expected completion of each module. All assignments for the semester require the completion and submission of the example model as detailed in the presentation module covering that material. Each of the 12 assignments is worth 40 points.

Class Participation:

Students are expected to:

  • communicate with the instructor as a learning resource;
  • check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements;
  • actively participate in threaded discussion events.


Late assignments and exams will not be accepted. Be aware of the schedule and the time when making submissions. The professor is not responsible for missed deadlines.

Course Ground Rules

It is the student's responsibility to communicate with the instructor in advance of any problems or concerns.

Participation is a required part of this class. The online community is a collaborative community ? we can all learn from each other?s knowledge and experience.

Keep abreast of course announcements and email by checking the course Web site several times a week at a minimum. Also, use the assigned e-mail address as opposed to a personal e-mail address.

Address technical problems immediately.

Observe course netiquette at all times.

Students are expected to maintain high standards of personal and scholarly conduct. Breaches of the standards of conduct will be met with the severest penalties allowed, including an ?F? (zero) for the course. Failing grades earned on the midterm exam via academic misconduct can not be replaced by a higher grade on the final.

Academic misconduct includes the following:

? Copying from another student's exam, quiz, or assignment.

? Using, during a quiz or exam, materials and/or devices not authorized by the professor.

? Collaborating with or seeking aid from another student during an exam or quiz.

? Knowingly using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting, in its entirety or in part, the contents of an exam, quiz, or other assignment not specifically authorized by the professor for release.

? Substituting for another student, or permitting another student to substitute for oneself, to take an exam or quiz.

? Plagiarism, or the appropriation, theft, purchase, or acquisition by any means another's work, and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of that work as one's own offered for credit.

? Facilitation, defined as intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to violate a provision of the institutional code of academic misconduct.

? Collusion, or the unauthorized collaboration with another in preparing work offered for credit. Although I do not discourage you from learning and working together with other students, all material submitted for credit must be your own original work.

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

Discussion Groups:

  • 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.

Web Resources:


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in the Regents Degree Program. 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 must be included in all courses.

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.

Technical Support

Telephone Support:

If you are having problems logging into your course,
timing out of your course, using your course web site tools, or other technical problems, please contact the AskRODP Help Desk by calling

1-866-550-7637 (toll free)

or go to the AskRODP website at: