Grading Policy

This page defines the course's grading policy. In essence, everything to do with grading, including ethical issues. See the course's about page for a description of the course itself.

The material on this page is organized as follows:

  1. Access to Grades
  2. Final Grades
  3. Letter Grades
  4. Late Homework Problems Policy
  5. Homework Problem Types
  6. Extra Credit
  7. Grading of In-Class Quizzes, Missing Quizzes
  8. Cheating
  9. Discussion, Cooperation, and Collaboration
  10. Plagiarism

Access to Grades

You can access your grades through WebCT.

Final Grades

Final grades for the course will be weighted towards exams. Together the four exams given will account for 60% of your grade, homeworks will count for 30%, and in-class quizzes will count for 10%. Each exam is weighted equally with the others; no extra weight is given to the final exam. Each homework point counts equally, but some homeworks have more points than others. Each quiz counts equally and all quizzes have the same number of points; however, your grade for the quizzes ignores your lowest three (3) quiz grades.

The idea behind this grading scheme is that you should:

Read the book and do the homeworks to learn the material.

You will pass and do well if you make mistakes on your in-class quizzes and homeworks and learn from them. Don't think that the homework and quiz grades are so important that you should cheat to get higher homework grades, as cheating is a serious offense, and it will most likely cause you to fail the tests.

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Letter Grades

Your grade is independent of anyone else's grade in this class. That is, we do not grade on a curve, and everyone can get an A. Our purpose in grading is to uphold a standard of quality and to give you feedback: it is not to rank students.

Instead of using curve grading as a final defense against problems that are too hard, we use the following policy. If a problem on a homework or exam is so hard that most students do not "get it", then we will eliminate it from the exam or homework grading. If this problem was appropriate, then we will teach how to solve problems like it, and give a similar problem on another exam or homework. If it was not appropriate, then we will ignore it. If you detect such a problem on a homework, let us know about it as soon as possible, as it will save us all a lot of work.

Although we will not always make fine distinctions in points the nominal minimum standards are given by the following table.


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Late Homework Problems Policy

The late policy for homework problems is designed to encourage you to:

but to hand it in eventually in any case. To allow the TA to grade what you have handed as soon as possible, only one version of any problem, the first you hand in, will be accepted.

Like all homework, late homework problems must turned in using WebCT. Email will not be accepted.

Note that you can turn in just the problems that you have finished; we don't require you to turn in entire homeworks at once. The late penalties only apply to those problems you turn in late.

We do give partial credit for homework, so you will have to balance the gain from waiting to get a good version of a problem and the loss from handing the problem in late. In general, we encourage you to hand in a good version of each problem, but if you are late (and have been trying), consider that as a sign that you need help on the concepts, and get help from us!

Homework problems that are late receive points based on the following table.

When Handed In Percentage Penalty
by 24 hours after the time the homework problem is due 5%
by 48 hours after the time the homework problem is due 10%
by 72 hours (3 days) after the time the homework problem is due 20%
by 96 hours (4 days) after the time the homework problem is due 30%
by 120 hours (5 days) after the time the homework problem is due 50%
by 144 hours (6 days) after time the homework problem is due 70%
by the earlier of: 168 hours (7 days) after the time the homework problem is due or one hour before the start of the lecture meeting that occurs one week following the problem's due date 80%
later or during last week of classes 100%

For example, if a homework problem is due on Monday at 11 PM but you turn it in by Tuesday at 11 PM, you will have 5% of what would have been your score subtracted; thus if the problem was 25 points, and you earned 20 of them, your score would be recorded as 19 points, due to the 5% penalty. If you turned the same thing in by Wednesday at 11 PM, your penalty would be 10%, so your score would be recorded as 18 points. If you wait until Monday of the following week to turn it in, then your score would be recorded as 4 points, due to the 80% late penalty.

Absolutely no credit for late homework problems will be given during the last calendar week of classes (or later!), or for homework problems turned in later than 1 week after the time the homework is due.

If you are consistently late with homework, we may stop accepting your late homework problems.

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Homework Problem Types

There are 3 kinds of homework problems: normal, suggested practice, and extra credit. Normal problems are essential material. If you find yourself struggling with one more than a reasonable amount of time, please come and see us for help! Suggested practice problems are for you to use for practice, if you wish, but not to hand in; suggested practice problems may be discussed in discussion sections, and make good study problems for tests. Extra credit problems do not count as normal problems, but can be handed in. They are discussed further below.

On homeworks, the points and type of problem follow the problem number. For example, "3. (25 points)" is a normal problem, while "4. (suggested practice)" is a suggested practice problem, and "5. (20 points; extra credit)" is an extra credit problem.

The points used to figure your grade on a homework are the points you earn for the normal problems.

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Extra Credit

In homeworks for which you do not have any incomplete problems and earned a grade of at least a B overall, you may accumulate extra credit points on problems marked as "extra credit." Extra credit problems that are not given explicit due dates may be turned in any time within 1 week of the due date of the last normal problem of the homework to which they are attached. However, all extra credit work must be handed in before the last week of classes.

The main reason to do extra credit work should be that you are interested in the problems and want to learn more about the material. Since the main material is more important, you should only do extra credit problems that interest you and that you have time for. Beware that one reason for having extra credit problems is to give me a place to put interesting problems that are of unknown difficulty. Sometimes these turn out to be quite hard.

Another reason, for doing extra credit work, however, is that your extra credit points will be used to subjectively raise your final grade in the class. For example, if you are close to an A in the class, and have some extra credit points, then we will take them into account and may raise your grade to an A. Another use for extra credit points is to impress me, if you want me to write you a recommendation someday. (Because of that, it is wise to save your extra credit work.) However, you can't use extra credit work to make up for incomplete work. If you are having difficulty in the class, focus on the main material, not on the extra credit work.

You may also do work for extra credit that you invent, but please check with me before doing something like that. (Otherwise you may spend a lot of time on something that I may not consider worth many extra credit points.)

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Grading of In-Class Quizzes, Missing Quizzes

Quizzes are small tests given in class to prompt questions associated with readings. These are used to give you an incentive to read the material before class, which will help us make the class meetings more interactive. This is intended to help your learning.

Because the quizzes are to encourage you to read the material, they are closed book. However, you can use your own notes (e.g., that you may have taken on the material).

We plan to have a quiz at many "lecture" meetings (when there is no exam being given).

Each quiz has the same number of points (2).

In figuring your final grade, all quiz points count equally. Your quiz grade will be based on the total scores from all but the lowest three (3) quiz grades.

Because we drop the lowest three (3) quiz grades, there are no excuses accepted for missing quizzes.

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The simple rule of thumb is:

Never give or use someone else's code or written answers.

Such exchanges are definitely cheating and not cooperation. This includes taking answers from the web.

Here's a standard statement (from the UCF FCTL web site) about our use of

"To detect cheating we may use, an automated system that can quickly and easily compare each student's assignment with billions of web sites, as well as an enormous database of student papers that grows with each submission. Accordingly, you may be expected to submit assignments in electronic format. After the assignment is processed, as an instructor I receive a report from that states if and how another author's work was used in the assignment. For a more detailed look at this process, visit"

If we catch you cheating on a test or exchanging code or written answers, you will get no credit for that test or homework, and you may be reported to the Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Read the section on academic dishonesty/cheating in the Golden Rule.

If you honestly believe that certain problems are too much busy work, then bring it to the instructor's attention; or failing that, only do the part of the problem that you think you need to do to learn the material and explain that to us.

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Discussion, Cooperation, and Collaboration

You are encouraged to discuss homework, and other parts of the class with other students. Such discussions about ideas are not cheating, whereas the exchange of finished, written answers is cheating. However, when you have more than casual discussions about homework problems, you must cite the other person as described below.

When you cooperate on solution ideas or collaborate on producing final answers, you must cite the other people you worked with as follows. This must be done for each problem on which you cooperate or collaborate. (That is, if you work with someone on a problem, you don't need to work with them on the entire homework.)

Note that substantial collaboration on solutions which is not cited as described above is considered cheating. In particular, if you are part of a group that divides up the problems in a homework, and some do each one, without actively contributing during the solution of each problem, then this is just an exchange of finished answers--i.e., cheating. Such cheating will be dealt with as described above. It should be clear that you will learn less by such exchanges of finished answers.

Be careful, not to get involved in an unequal collaboration, where you are doing less work than someone else. Part of what you need to do to learn the material is to struggle with it; if you deny yourself that struggle, you will learn less and remember what you learned less. So beware of this trap.

Also, as a kindness to your classmates, you should terminate an unequal collaboration where you are doing more than the other person. The other person will learn the material better if you help them but don't collaborate so closely. In this case it's better to help them only by discussing problems with them, and not by jointly collaborating on solutions.

In discussions of ideas, you should also be careful to distinguish between helping and hurting yourself and the other students. In brief, you can help the other students by teaching them, and you can hurt them by giving them answers that they should have worked out for themselves. (Remember, when you're being tested, you won't be able to help each other.) The same applies to tutoring and getting help from me or a TA.

Harmful discussions most commonly occur in "giving away" a key idea needed to solve a problem. For example, suppose you have studied a programming problem for an hour or so, and finally found that the key to the solution is to use a helping procedure you call "critical". Your friend, after working on the problem for 15 minutes, says "I just can't see how to do this" and you say "try using a helping procedure called 'critical'. "

Although it takes more time, your friend will learn more if you say something like: "How are you approaching the problem, what's your plan?" (knowing that if your friend is not planning, no helping procedure will be found). If your friend hasn't planned, you should let them do it; if they have trouble planning, tell them to think about problems discussed in class that were similar, etc. If, after planning, your friend still hasn't found helping procedure 'critical', you should say something more direct like, "what helping procedures do you have?" or "how do these helping procedures help you get closer to the solution?" or "can you solve part of the problem?" The idea is to guide the other person's thinking process.

Perhaps a more common way to fall into the hurtful exchange of giving away the key idea is when you're talking over a problem that no one knows the answer to yet. Once one of you comes up with the key idea, it is tempting to blurt it out, impressing the others with your brilliance. If this happens, you should write "developed in cooperation with ..." on your solution. (Note that this disclaimer cannot be used to get away with cheating, but we're not discussing exchanging written code or answers.) It would be better for the one who comes up with the key idea say "I have it, but now I can't tell you what it is" and then try to guide the others to the solution as described above.

If you have questions about the details of cooperation vs. cheating, please see the professor.

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Finally, if you use reference materials (other than the course texts) to solve a problem, you must give a citation. This includes material from the web. Not doing so is plagiarism, which is considered to be cheating.

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Last modified Monday, October 15, 2007.

This web page is for the Fall 2007 offering of COP 4020 at the University of Central Florida. The details of this course are subject to change as experience dictates. You will be informed of any changes. Please direct any comments or questions to Gary T. Leavens.