<<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 01f0e34b28f488e71846e1732600bb9224179b9d
Join Lecture (Tues Feb 2 at 3:30pm)

1 Cohorts

Students in the class will be partitioned into cohorts, small groups of 5 – 7 students, who we hope will form effective learning sub-communities. Each cohort will be expected to work as a group to help all members succeed, and each individual will be expected to contribute to their own success as well as the success of the other members of their cohort.

Cohorts will have two scheduled weekly meetings, one of which will include a member of the course staff. For the first meeting, students in the cohort will work together to learn the concepts in the course and prepare solutions to the assigned problems for the week. Before the cohort preparation meeting, each student in the cohort will be expected to study the course materials and to work on these problems on their own. At the end of a successful cohort preparation meeting, every student in the cohort should understand all the main ideas from the course materials for that week, and be able to solve and discuss the assigned problems.

For the second weekly cohort meeting, a teaching assistant will join the cohort. The TA will (semi-randomly) select students in the cohort to present problems from the assigned problem set. The primary assessment for the course will be how well students do in demonstrating their understanding and preparation in presenting these problems. At the end of this meeting, the TA will pick one problem for each member of the cohort to write up individually, to be submitted at the end of the following day.

The typical weekly schedule for students in the course is below (this is a representative schedule for a cohort with assessed cohort meetings on Wednesdays; the schedule will adjust based on which day of the week the cohort meeting is scheduled):

Day Activity Estimated Time
Friday Preparation Materials (Videos) 120 minutes
Preparation Materials (Readings) 90 minutes
Saturday/Sunday Work on Problem Set (individually) 120 minutes
Monday Cohort Meeting (without staff) 75 minutes
Tuesday Complete problem set & Review 60 minutes
Wednesday Cohort Meeting (with TA) 75 minutes
Thursday Write-up 60 minutes
Total Time 10 hrs/week

The schedule is designed to expect 10 hours of total work per week, commensurate with guidelines for a 3-unit course, and we hope this will work best for most students by spreading the work throughout the week following a schedule similar to the one above.

Although we have sequentialized the preparation and problem working efforts, we expect for most students these will be done more fluidly. It will be valuable to read through the assigned problems at the beginning of the week, and to attempt to solve problems as you complete the relevant preparation materials, rather than doing all the preparation materials first and then approaching the problems.

The actual schedule will vary based on the date of a student’s assessed cohort meeing, and all students are expected to participate fully in their cohort’s scheduled meetings (both the preparation meeting without staff, and the assessed meeting with the TA).

Students will be assigned to cohorts based on the information you provide in the beginning-of-course survey. Cohort assignments will be done around students’ provided scheduling constraints.

2 Communication Platforms

We will primarily use Discord course announcements and interactive communication. The course web page will be used for course content.

Course Website: This is the course website. We will post all instructional materials and logistical information here.

Kytos Submission System: We will also use a custom-built Kytos site for assignment submissions and grading.

Discord: We will use the course discord server for most other course communications (you will receive information on joining the server by email). We expect students to receive messages we send to the #announcements channel as well as any direct messages we send to you on discord. Each cohort will have a channel on the Discord server.

If you have questions about course materials or assignments that will be relevant to other students, please ask them either in the #general channel or else in the channel associated with the relevant week (e.g. #week3). This will get the fastest response, since all of the course staff and students will see your question and be able to respond to it. If you have questions of a personal nature that you only want to make to the instructor, please use the course discord to contact Professor Brunelle (@nateb) in a Direct Message instead of emailing independently.

Email: Managing email for a large class like this is difficult, and we prefer to use the course discord for most communications relevant to the class. You should feel free to use email for messages peripherally related to the course (e.g., emailing an instructor about interest in their research). You should also use email if you post a question on discord but don’t receive an adequate response within 24 hours.

3 Grading

We hope that you can spend your energy focusing on what you are learning, instead of worrying about your grade. That said, we understand students are often stressed about grading and understandably want to know where they stand in a class without having to rely just on the judgment of the course staff. We aim to grade in a way that is useful (provides students with accurate measure of how well they understood what they should), motivating (encourages the behaviors we prefer, including hard but not obsessive work), fair (assigned higher grades to more deserving students), robust (arbitrary small perturbations do not have a material impact on someone’s grade), and low stress (for both students and the course staff).

Each student’s final grade will be determined by two components: and Individual grade and a community grade. The individual grade is intended to assess how well a student understands the course content, and determines the letter of a student’s grade (e.g. A, B, C, etc.). The Community grade is intended to assess how well the student contributed their cohort, and determines the modifier of a student’s letter grade (e.g. +, -, neutral). For example, a student who demonstrates substantial understanding of course concepts, but was not an effective member of their cohort would receive a grade of A-, a student with moderate understanding of course concepts and contributed much to their cohort might receive a B+.

3.1 Individual Grades

Your individual grade will be determined by 2 components:

  • Assessed Cohort Meetings: TAs will provide a score after each assessed cohort meeting to reflect how well you understood content from that week.
  • Writeups: In order to ensure you are able to communicate ideas in writing, each week you will be asked to write up one problem (as assigned during your Assessed Cohort Meeting).

We will have 12 assessed cohort meetings during the semester with 60 total points available for full credit (3 points for each week’s assessed cohort meeting, 2 points for each week’s writeup). The individual grade for students will be based on this scale:

Individual Grade Cohort+Writeup Points
A 51
B 42
C 36

With the exception of cases of academic dishonesty or inappropriate behavior, we guarantee that you will at least receive the minimum letter grade given in the table (possibly modified by a - based on the community grading described below), but you may be assigned a higher grade based on your overall performance and showing improvement over the course of the semester.

In cases where a student’s grade is not clear based on their cohort assessments, we will provide option for students to request an oral final exam to be scheduled with one of the instructors during the exam period.

3.1.1 Assessed Cohort Meetings

The main assessment will be based on students performance in the weekly cohort meetings. Each student will be evaluated based on how well they are able to present problems at these meetings. It is not necessary or expected that students can solve every problem or have a complete solution, and the cohort meetings are meant more for learning than assessment, but it is expected that every student in the cohort is prepared to discuss every problem in the assigned problem set.

Students will be assigned a grade based on their performance at the cohort meeting on this scale (fractional grades are possible):

Grade Meaning
3 Able to present on the selected problem well and to demonstrate good understanding of key concepts.
2 Able to demonstrate some understanding of key concepts and preparation effort, but not able to make progress on the selected problem.
1 Showed some understanding of the concepts needed to solve the selected problem, but not well prepared or able to make steps towards a reasonable solution.
0 Not able to contribute to the cohort meeting.

3.1.2 Writeups

Each week your cohort coach will assign a problem from the weekly problem set to writeup. Each student will writeup this problem individually. You may reference notes you and your cohort-mates compiled prior to the assessed cohort meeting, but you may not collaborate on the writeup after the assessed meeting has occurred.

Students will be assigned a grade based on the quality of their writeup according to this scale (fractional grades are possible:

Grade Meaning
2 Writeup correctly solves the problem with a clearly-presented description.
1.5 Writeup is nearly complete, but may have minor misconceptions.
1 Writeup is correct except for major misconceptions.
0.5 Writeup conveys some understanding of relevant concepts, but little progress is made towards a complete solution.
0 Writeup has little similarity to a complete and correct solution.

3.2 Community Grades

In addition to the individual cohort assessment grades, each cohort will receive a community grade based on how well the cohort does as a group, and how well a student contibutes to their cohort. This evaluation will determined whether a student receives a plus (+), minus (-) or neutral version of their individually-assigned letter grade.

Two main factors will contribute to the community grade:

  • Overall performance of the cohort during assessed cohort meetings: Doing well on this depends on all members of the cohort being prepared to present problems well. This will be determined based on the sum of the individual cohort assessments, the weekly individual minimum individual cohort assessment, the trend of these values over the semester, and feedback from your cohort coach.

  • Peer Evaluations: In most cases the community score will be the same among all students in a cohort. We will utilize periodic evaluations to facilate feedback among cohort members, and identify members who are exceeding or falling short of community expectations. Evaluations are intended to act as status checks, and will not directly impact a student’s grade. At the end of the semester we will look for trends in several evaluations to identify consistently outstanding community members and those with longstanding issues with community engagement.