Grading Policy

The material on this page is organized as follows:

  1. Final Grades
  2. Letter Grades
  3. Cheating and Plagiarism
  4. Discussion, Cooperation, and Collaboration

Final Grades

You will receive one grade for each homework, exam, and for the semester project. The exact weighting will be as follows:

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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.

The grading in this class will include subjective components. For example, the grading of proofs is (perhaps surprisingly) subjective. In grading proofs we will emphasize clarity. In grading essay answers, we will weight both the force of your arguments and how completely they consider all the issues.

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


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Cheating and Plagiarism

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.

If you use reference materials (other than the course texts) to solve a problem, you must give a citation. Furthermore, use of more than a few words from any source (including the course texts) must be properly set off with quotation marks ("...") or in an italicized block quote and a proper citation given. This definitely includes material from the web. Not attributing material as described above is plagiarism, which is a form of cheating. This includes arranging sentences from other sources without proper use of quotation marks and citations for each quote. We take plagiarism quite seriously, so note this policy well.

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.

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Last modified Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

This web page is for the Spring 2014 offering of COP 5021 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 at Some of the policies and web pages for this course are quoted or adapted from other courses I have taught, in particular, COP 4020 and Com S 641.