Policy on Attendance and Late Assignments

by Mike Gleicher on January 16, 2015

Attending is an important part of this class. We will have many in-class activities. And I do believe that you will get something out of lectures.

The assignments are an important part of class. Even the small things we ask you to do, we do them for a reason.

Of course, we know that people will miss class, or miss an assignment. You’ll get sick, or have a job interview, or need to go to a conference and miss class once or twice. Or maybe you’ll have a “less good” excuse (your alarm clock broke, or the bus was late). We may not be able to re-create in class experiences, so if you miss them, you miss them.We will provide some leniency – just don’t miss too much.

Having 100% attendance requires luck (e.g. not getting sick) and lack of luck (e.g. not getting job interviews or ski vacations). Missing 20% of the in class activities is probably a sign that you didn’t prioritize this class well enough.

We will not grade traditional “participation” – with 90 people, its too hard for us to learn everyone’s name, keep track of who talks in class, … In fact, there isn’t even time for everyone to talk in class! You participate by doing the in class activities (and the out of class activities that depend on the in-class activities).

We’ll assess in-class performance by sampling. We won’t take attendance everyday, or do an activity that gets scored every day. But, we will have enough that the statistics of the sampled days will model the greater population. (for those of you non-statisticians, that means that if you miss 75% of the days we check, then we’ll assume that you’ve missed 75% of all the days).

If you miss class (and/or an in-class assignment) you cannot make it up. Also, it is hard for us to decide what is a “legitimate” excuse (you were in the hospital) and a non-legitimate one (“I went to a party the night before and didn’t wake up this morning”) – because rarely are things so clear. If you want to tell us why you missed something, send email to the TA (not the professor) who will record it. We will look at this at the end. Remember, if you miss a small number of things, it’s OK.  If you chronically miss things, then there might be an issue – and even if you have “an excuse,” you’ll have missed out on the experience.

Late Policy

Things will have deadlines for a reason. Usually, we want you to do one thing, because its necessary for doing the next. Sometimes, we don’t want the previous thing to drag on (so you can move on to the next). And sometimes, its a practical concern (we need to do grading). The “firmness” of the deadlines will depend on the reason for it, and will be stated with the assignment.

For “practical” deadlines, the deadline is totally firm: there is no chance to make up the work after the fact. For example, if you miss an in-class assignment there’s no way to make it up, and if an assignment was to provide material for an in-class discussion, there’s no reason to turn it in after that discussion. We understand that people will miss things (see the discussion on attendance, assignments are treated the same way – we won’t expect 100%).

For many other deadlines, we can be more lenient. Late assignments will be penalized, but turning things in late is better than nothing. For some deadlines, if you miss them, we won’t be able to grade your assignment (especially if there is peer review involved). They will be recorded as “turned in late”.

We will not precisely quantify the penalties for late assignments and projects. If you’re really concerned about your grade, turn in good work on time. Generally, we like the idea of giving you more time so you can do better and cooler stuff. But there are practical concerns both in terms of you needing to move on to the next thing, us being able to do the grading, and having fairness in the class.

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