About Com S 362
Homework & Grades
Q & A
OO A&D Links
The material on this page is organized as follows:
You will receive one grade for each homework and test (including the final exam). An estimate of your final grade will be made by taking a weighted average of these grades, with the total weight on homeworks being 60% and the total weight of the tests being 40%. 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 (far) more points than others.
Your grade is independent of anyone else's grade in this class (except for those in your team); that is, we do not grade on a curve. Everyone can get an A in this class. 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 the homework or a test is so hard that most students do not "get it", then we will eliminate it from the test 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 test 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 requirements and designs is subjective. We will give some points for clearly presented work (including clear English). But the main determination will be on how well your solutions work.
As an informal specification of a grading scale for subjective work, "A" work is excellent work, showing careful thought and a thorough understanding of the material, especially with creativity, and "B" work shows an adequate understanding of the material.
Although we will not always make fine distinctions in points the nominal minimum standards are given by the following table.
All the homework in this class is to be done in teams of 3-4 people. There are two reasons for doing teamwork in this class. The first is that most software systems that need an analysis and design process are large enough to require teamwork; hence this is a valuable job skill. The second is that, according to studies, you learn more effectively when you participate in group discussions.
In a team, you will all depend on each other, but yet will be individually accountable for your own learning (on tests). You will have to develop your interpersonal skills. These skills are increasingly important in the business world.
The following discusses the grading policies and procedures at apply to such teams.
Problems, Changing Membership
Once a team is formed, it should not change members during the semester. That is, the members commit to working together for the rest of the semester.
If there is a problem in the team, you should come (preferably as a team) to talk to the instructor (Gary). We will try to straighten it out.
One team member will be designated the team facilitator for each assignment. We will hold the facilitator responsible for making sure that everyone gets a fair chance to talk, and that everyone understands everything. The aim of this job is to ensure that everyone participates to the maximal extent possible.
In addition, the team facilitator may have other responsibilities, but those are solely to be decided by the team.
Once you have been a team facilitator on a homework, you may not be a team leader again until every other student in your team has been a team facilitator. (If the facilitator does not show up to a meeting, some one else may serve; but this should then be brought to the attention of the staff.)
You team may have other jobs that rotate as well such as a recorder, technical lead, etc. If you have such jobs, you should give everyone a chance at them also.
The teamwork process is up to the individual teams. However, each student in the team is responsibile for understanding the work in the team, thus teams should be very careful to have the whole team check and explain parts of the work if it is split up. You, as a team member, should be sure that you understand all that goes on and that you take on a fair share of the work.
To help make sure work contributions are rewarded fairly, we have the team rate the work contributions of its team members at the end of each homework. Individual contributions are rated on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being highest, and 1 lowest. These are used to adjust the grades of team members above and below the team's grade. A rating X produces an increment to an individual's grade of (X - 3)*2.5%, whcih is added to the team's grade recorded for the individual (as long as the sum is between 0 and 100%).
For example, suppose Alice is in a group whose homework got 80%, and her individual rating was 5; then Alice's grade is recorded as 85%. In the same group if Bob has an individual rating of 2, then his grade is recorded as 77.5%.
The team is constrained to make the total individual work ratings average to 3, and all members must agree on the contributions of all other members. The certification of individual contributions is to be done using a standard form, which is available as a MS Word document and as a HTML page and as a text file.
A Suggestion for Improving the Group Process
We also suggest (but do not require) that at the end of each homework the team explicitly discuss:
The simple rule of thumb is:
Never give finished answers to someone else (or another team) else or use someone else's finished answers.
Such exchanges are definitely cheating and not cooperation. However, note that on homework, there can be no cheating within a team.
We will take action if we catch you cheating on a test or exchanging code or written answers. Read the section on academic dishonesty in the section on academic regulations in the Iowa State University Bulletin.
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.
You are encouraged to discuss homework, and other parts of the class with other students. Certainly discussions within a team are fine and no harm comes from them. Even between teams, 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 with students in other teams, you must cite the other person as described below.
When you cooperate on solution ideas or collaborate on producing final answers with other teams, you must cite the other teams 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 between teams that is not cited as described above is considered 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.
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 (i.e., cheating). We take plagiarism quite seriously, so note this policy well.
Last modified Saturday, February 8, 2003.
This web page is for the Spring 2002 offering of Com S 362 at Iowa State University. 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 leavens@cs-DOT-iastate-DOT-edu (after replacing -DOT- with `.').