by Mike Gleicher on December 12, 2015

in News

I put “Grading” in quotes because this class is supposed to be pass/fail. But, like so many other things this semester, things don’t always go according to plan.

For students who have been taking this class seriously, trying to do the assignments, coming to class, participating in discussions, … Thank you. I can’t reward you with a better grade, but hopefully, the fact that you learned more (and maybe helped others learn) is an even better reward. I apologize that you haven’t gotten more feedback over the course of the semester.

As far as deciding whether or not you are passing: I appreciate that this class was an experiment and I’ve been bad at giving people feedback. In return, I’ve tried to be as lenient as practical in accommodating people who do things late. There are some limits.

You will pass this class if you’ve at least tried (that is, turned something in, even if its not perfect) to do most of the assignments. I appreciate that we haven’t given you lots of feedback. So, as long as you’ve been turning things in, you’re OK. Now is not the time to go back to the early parts of the semester and just hand in something so you get credit, but it is a reminder to at least try to do all of the later assignments.  (we’ll probably grade puzzle 4 this weekend, puzzle 5 and the design assignment early in the week, and puzzle 6 early in exam week). For these assignments, trying is better than not trying (in terms of passing).

If you judged by the number of questions we get in class (or before/after class), or the number of questions I get in office hours (or even by email), you might guess that everyone understood that they needed to do and how to do it. I realize this isn’t actually the case. But it does limit my sympathy for someone who says “I didn’t realize we had assignments.”

Failing someone is a big deal – so I don’t take it lightly. For this reason, there is no hard and fast rule. I’ll look at each person individually – but in many cases it’s pretty clear. If you didn’t turn in anything (or at least make an honest try) for most of the assignments, you know it. Although, I’m guessing you’re not reading this.

An obscure thing I’ve learned about grading: even though this class is pass/fail, I actually assign you a grade that gets converted to a P or an F. Unfortunately, I don’t have good enough information to assign grades in a meaningful way. So, if, by chance, you see what grade got put on my grade sheet, remember it was only something I put there so it gets converted to the right thing. If you want to complain about it, you’ll be revealing the fact that you didn’t follow instructions and sign up for the class pass/fail.

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