Rubrics and Grading

This document presents the following information:

  • General Expectations
  • Policies for Late Work
  • Rubrics for Technical Assignments
  • Rubrics for Open-Ended Projects
  • Rubrics for Looking Outwards Reports
  • Rubrics for Recitation Activities
  • Rubrics for Class Participation
  • Rubrics for Exams
  • Grading Breakdown

General Expectations

There are a few elementary things you can do to ensure that you receive a totally respectable grade in the course. These things may seem simple and obvious, but it’s sometimes surprising how few students seem to get this right:

  • Show up to all of the course sessions, on time.
  • Communicate with your professor if you must miss a session.
  • Submit all of the Deliverables, on time.
  • Follow instructions: do all parts of the Deliverables, paying careful attention to seemingly trivial requirements (such as categorizing your blog posts correctly, formatting your code properly, etc.).
  • Have a positive attitude.

There are also some things you can do to earn a really great grade in the course:

  • Make interesting, novel, provocative work that’s well-crafted.
  • Be resourceful about getting the assistance you need.
  • Help your classmates when they’re stuck.
  • Make helpful contributions to discussions.

Here’s a rubric for how to succeed in a course like this, courtesy Kristin Hughes.

Policies for Late Work

See Course Policies.

Rubrics for Technical Assignments (Submitted through Autolab)

The purpose of technical Assignments is to develop your fluency in programming concepts, and to reinscribe computational literacy skills through practice.

Technical Assignments are submitted through Autolab. These assignments will have clear, crisply-worded checklists for what you need to accomplish. If you check off all the items on the checklist, and submit the work on time, you will receive full credit.

One of the components of this evaluation checklist will be style (e.g. modularity, effective use of data abstraction, readability, commenting, etc.). Your code should be properly annotated with comments that are well-placed, concise, and informative. Your assignments will be graded by your TA, and at times by your professor.

Wherever possible, we have designed Assignments to produce visual or audiovisual results, in recognition of the interests of an arts-oriented population of students. In spite of the checklist and detailed requirements, Assignments have room for creativity and do not have unique solutions. Just as harmonizing a chorale in music theory is a routine technical task, there is always room for invention and artistic choice. Do not think for a nanosecond that everyone is arriving at the same solution or that it might be OK to copy another solution just this once.

The technical Assignments are given to strengthen and assess your skills as an individual. Therefore, collaboration on technical Assignments is not permitted. Moreover, Assignments submitted through Autolab are automatically proofed by a sophisticated plagiarism detector, before being graded by a human. See the course policies on Academic Integrity for more information about this.

Assignments will be graded with scores of 0,1,2, or 3.

  • 3 – Excellent work. The program(s) function correctly and the programming style is good.
  • 2 – Good work. The program(s) function almost correctly except for a few small errors, or the program(s) function correctly but the program style needs work.
  • 1 – Mediocre work. The program(s) have some serious flaws such that the output is entirely wrong or the program(s) cannot run. However, program code that is written in the general direction of the solution has been submitted.
  • 0 – No credit, generally because of late work or no submission. 

Rubrics for Open-Ended Projects

The purpose of open-ended Projects is to provide well-circumscribed opportunities for you to make creative work with code. Generally the Project prompts will invite you to explore a specific conceptual theme or set of programming techniques, but, unless stated otherwise, there is no correct solution, and no specific requirement for how to implement your idea. While an Assignment asks for a creative solution, a Project also asks for some creativity in defining and approaching the problem. Projects are published and presented on the WordPress blog.

Open-ended Projects are evaluated according to the following considerations:

  • Curiosity: Are you asking questions as you work?
  • Tenacity: Are you forging through difficult problems without giving up?
  • Execution: Are you crafting with purpose, precision, and attention?
  • Inventiveness: Are you discovering/exploring methods outside the obvious and predictable?
  • Fulfillment: Did you meet all of the requested supporting criteria (such as providing scans of sketches, categorizing your blog post correctly, etc.)?

With Projects, it may not matter how much time someone spent; you may sometimes observe a quickly-executed solution which succeeds because of its strong concept. Often, however, the craft of a project is rewarded by extra attention.

Projects always have a list of supporting requirements. These are straightforward to fulfill, but if you fail to meet these, you will have points deducted.

  • Create a unique blog post for your project.
  • Make sure your blog post is titled and categorized as requested.
  • Embed your interactive p5.js project into the post. Make sure its code is visible.
  • Include a static documentation image, such as a screenshot.
  • Include scans or photos of any notebook sketches, if you have them.
  • Embed a YouTube, Vimeo, or animated GIF demonstrating your project.
  • Write 100-200 words about your project, describing its development process.
  • In your writing, include some critical analysis of your project: how could it have been better? In what ways did you succeed, and in what ways could it be better?

Related to our course policies on Academic Integrity, you must also

  • Name any other students from the class with whom you collaborated on your Project, and explain how the work was distributed among the collaborators. You will be graded on your contribution only.
  • Cite and link to the sources for any code, external libraries, or other media (e.g. photographs, soundtracks) which you used in your Project.

Projects will be graded with scores of 0,1,2, or 3.

  • 3Outstanding or exceptional work. Perhaps 10% of the class will earn this grade.
  • 2Good work, successfully meeting criteria. Generally 75% of the class will earn this grade.
  • 1Mediocre, unimaginative work, perhaps only technically satisfactory. Sorry. The work reveals a lack of evident care. Sometimes 10% of the class will earn this grade.
  • 0No credit, generally because of late work. Our experience is that this grade is earned by approximately 5% of students.

Rubrics for Looking Outwards Reports

The purpose of Assignments (LO) reports is for you to become familiar with the landscape of contemporary practices in computational new media, and to begin to articulate your own set of interests and concerns within that landscape. To that end, your ten Looking Outwards reports will form a kind of “research diary”.

The Looking Outwards reports, taken together, comprise 10% of your Deliverables grade. Each Looking Outwards report will earn about 1 percentage point, up to a total of 10.

LO’s are given a grade of Good (2), Needs Work (1) or Fail (0). Reports submitted by the stated deadline and meeting the criteria will get a Good grade. Reports below standard will get a Needs Work grade. Overdue and/or shoddy work will fail.

The professors are attentive to the evident care you put into Looking Outwards reports. Good LO’s will meet the following criteria:

  • You include an embedded image or video of the documented project.
  • You have written approximately 100-200 words on the project.
  • You explain the project, and make an effort to critique it.
  • You have published the above in a blog post, on time.
  • Your LO blog post is well-titled and correctly categorized.
  • Your writing is careful and considered.

The maximum you can score for Looking Outwards entries is 20 points. There are no makeups for a missed LO entry.

Rubrics for Recitation Activities

The purpose of the recitations is to review the course concepts from the previous 2-3 lectures and provide you with some hands-on programming activities to apply those concepts to various short problems. Unlike the technical assignments, you are encouraged to work with other students during the recitation to discuss and solve the various problems. Like technical assignments, there is likely to be more than one way to solve each problem. Before the end of the recitation, we will regroup to discuss the problems, what you found challenging, how you approached the problems, and a quick look at some creative solutions you might want to share.

The goal for recitations is not to get everything perfectly correct. In fact, the recitation might include more activities than you can reasonably complete in the given time. Don’t worry if you don’t get all of the activities done. You will be graded for recitation participation on just that: PARTICIPATION. As long as you hand in some reasonable attempts to the problems, you will get full credit for the recitation. 

Recitations will be graded with a score of 0, 1 or 2.

  • 2Good work, meaning you worked on all or most of the problems and came up with solutions that either work or are close to working.
  • 1Mediocre, meaning you were in attendance but you did not do a reasonable amount of work during the recitation (e.g. solving only 1 or 2 of the problems, with errors) but you were there for the discussion.
  • 0No credit, generally because you missed the recitation.

There are NO makeups for missed recitations. However, there are 11 recitations, so 22 points are up for grabs. If you earn additional points beyond 20 points, these will act as extra credit.

Rubrics for Class Participation

In order to ensure that you keep up with the course material, there will be short Canvas mini-quizzes that will be posted after select lectures (at least 20 of them, but probably more). If it is announced that a specific lecture has a mini-quiz, that quiz will open after lecture ends and will remain open until the start of the next lecture. It will be your responsibility to take the mini-quiz before the quiz closes. This will give you at least two full days to take the quiz, sometimes three if you have the weekend. Each mini-quiz will be worth 1 point (if you get at least 50% on the quiz).

There are NO makeups for Canvas mini-quizzes. However, there will be more than 20 mini-quizzes, and only 20 are used toward class engagement. If you earn additional points, these will act as extra credit.

Rubrics for Exams

There will four exams in this class: three lab exams to test basic programming skills and one written exam to test conceptual topics in computing. There is no final exam for this class. Each exam is worth 15 points toward your final point total. Questions on the exam will test core concepts, so if you have been participating regularly and doing well on the various deliverables, then you should do well on the exams.

There are NO makeups for examinations except for CMU-required absences, specific documented cases of illness or family emergency. If you have a documented disability that may affect taking an exam, please consult with Disability Resources well ahead of the exams for a review of your situation and approval of appropriate accommodations as determined by this office. Submit any requests for accommodations at least one week before an upcoming exam.

Grading Breakdown

In this course, the maximum number of points you can earn is 200 points. 

  • Class Engagement – through Canvas mini-quizzes (max. 20 points* – 10%)
  • Examinations (max. 60 points – 30%)
    • Lab Exam #1 (15 points)
    • Lab Exam #2 (15 points)
    • Lab Exam #3 (15 points)
    • Written Exam (15 points)
  • Deliverables (max. 120 points – 60%)
    • Lab Participation (max. 20 points*)
    • Technical Assignments (max. 36 points)
    • Looking Outwards Reports (max. 20 points)
    • Open-Ended Weekly Projects (max. 36 points)
    • Capstone Project (max. 8 points)
      *additional points beyond 20 used as extra credit

Although final grade breakdowns will not be published, in general, if you earn 90% of the points or more (at least 180 points), you will likely get an A. 80% of the points or more (at least 160 points) will likely earn a B. And so on. To pass the course, you should be aiming to earn at least 120 points (60%); this should not be hard to do if you just participate and submit all deliverables. The instructor does reserve the right to adjust these boundaries based on the relative ease or difficulty of the deliverables, but typically this is not a common occurrence.