CPSC 120 Principles of Computer Science Fall 2015

CPSC 120 Assessment

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Assignments and Evaluation

Readings: Readings are an important component of this course - they are your first exposure to new material and provide the basis for the examples worked on in class. It is important to make an effort to understand the reading and the examples, which means that you may need to read over things multiple times. Readings are to be done before the class period for which they are assigned.

Labs: Lab sessions will be held on Fridays in the Rosenberg 009 computer lab. Lab assignments will be posted on the syllabus page prior to each lab session. Your time in lab will be spent most effective if you read the lab handout before lab and come prepared with any questions that may have arisen. You will generally not be able to complete all of the lab exercises during the lab period; anything not completed during lab will have to be finished on your own as homework. Completed exercises are due by the start of the following week's lab.

Projects: There will be two projects in addition to the weekly labs. The projects will require somewhat larger and more sophisticated programs than the labs, and will integrate several concepts. Expected dates for the projects are posted on the syllabus for planning purposes.

Exams: There will be two midterm exams and a final exam. The dates and times of these exams are noted on the syllabus - be sure to consult this schedule before making travel arrangements! More details about each exam will be announced prior to the exam.

Attendance: You are expected to attend and be on time for all class meetings (including labs). Late arrivals may be marked as absent. Because of the emphasis on in-class activities and participation, more than three absences (for any reason) will lower your participation grade by 33% per additional absence. (This amounts to lowering your final grade by 1/3 of a letter grade per additional absence.)

Participation: You are expected to actively contribute to group work (not sitting back and letting others do everything), and should be actively engaged in class - this means that you are paying attention and contribute meaningfully to the class on a regular basis. Disruptive behavior (such as walking in and out during class, ringing cell phones, or disturbing others) will count against your participation grade.

Grades: Grades in this course will be computed as follows:

  • Labs: 40% (approx. 3% each)
  • Projects: 25% (12.5% each)
  • Exams: 25% (midterms 7.5% each, final 10%)
  • Attendance/participation: 10%

Talks: The Math/CS Department sponsors a number of colloquium talks from alumni and visitors during the semester. These talks are a great way to find out about a variety of topics in the fields of mathematics and computer science. You can earn extra credit for attending talks relevant to this course - this includes computer-science-themed math/CS colloquium talks, as well as any other talk given on campus that is relevant to this course. (Get a small additional bonus for suggesting a relevant talk not part of the math/CS colloquium series!) To get credit for attending a talk, you must be present at the talk and must submit a three-paragraph writeup of the talk: one paragraph summarizing the talk, one paragraph discussing what you learned from the talk, and one paragraph explaining why the talk is relevant to this course. Writeups are due within one week of the talk. Writeups which are clearly written, substantive, contain the three paragraphs listed, and make a strong case for the relevance of the talk to the course will earn up to 5% of the participation grade per talk. A maximum of four talks will be counted for extra credit.

Extra credit: In addition to attending colloquium talks, some labs and all of the projects will have the potential for extra credit by going beyond the minimum requirements of the assignment. No additional extra credit assignments or special extra credit opportunities will be given - the time to worry about your grade is during the term, not at the end.

Coding Standards

Following reasonable conventions is important for readability of your code. The course coding standards specify the particular conventions you should use in this course.

Need Help?

If you are having trouble with the course material or get stuck on a problem you can't figure out how to solve, don't just ignore it! The most useful resource for this course is the instructor - during lab, during office hours, and dropping by or scheduling a meeting. This should be your first stop if you are having trouble with course material. The evening CS TFs, available in the Lansing 310 computer lab, should also be able to provide some help though they may not be familiar with the details of Processing. For more general help, such as with writing, study skills, or time management, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) also has resources to help you. See the CTL statement below.

Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)

At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, we encourage you to learn collaboratively and to seek the resources that will enable you to succeed. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is one of those resources: CTL programs and staff help you engage with your learning, accomplish the tasks before you, enhance your thinking and skills, and empower you to do your best. Resources at CTL are many: Study Mentors help you find your time and manage your responsibilities, Writing Fellows help you think well on paper, and professional staff help you assess academic needs.

I encourage you to explore these and other CTL resources designed to encourage your very best work. You can talk with me about these resources, visit the CTL office on the 2nd floor of the library to discuss options with the staff, call 781-3351 for an appointment, or visit the CTL website.

The CTL resources most useful for this class are the following:

Teaching Fellows
CTL works with the Math/CS Department to offer one resource that will be essential to your learning in this course, the CS Teaching Fellows. The Teaching Fellows are accomplished CS majors and minors who are now paid to assist other students. They hold regular study hours Sunday-Thursday.
Study Mentors
The CTL resource especially valuable to students either just starting college OR adjusting to the demands of their choice of Major is the Study Mentors program. Study Mentors engage directly with each student in the process of adjusting to new academic demands: they help you find the time you need to engage with both your academic and co-curricular activities, accomplish the tasks in front of you, and enhance your reading and study time. Study Mentors may be especially important for those of you who are involved in many activities; work on or off campus; are studying for Teaching Certification, graduate school exams, or prepping for fellowships; or who have one or more unusually demanding courses on your schedule. To meet with a Study Mentor, one option is to go to the TutorTrac link provided on the CTL webpage and make an appointment. You can also contact Ingrid Keenan, x3832, keenan@hws.edu, or drop in at the CTL office on the 2nd floor of the library.

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