Grades and Grading

Preamble. Grades are the least interesting part of any course. They are not so much a necessary evil as a required one.

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Students must complete all of the work for the course to receive a passing grade.

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Grades will be assessed according to the quasi-objective scale below:

Class participation: 20%. This is not an attendance grade; attendance is prerequisite. This grade reflects not your physical presence in the classroom, but your intellectual presence—concretely contributing in some way to the discussion: asking questions, making observations, offering help, etc. I will devise ways of allowing quiet students to participate.

Course blog: 50%. This is a cumulative course blog grade, for all kinds of posts distributed over the course of the semester.

• Final project: 30%. This assesses both the substantive process and product of your final project.

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Blog grading is a slightly weird process, as it is mostly ongoing, but then there are the two “significant” posts. Blogs will be assessed in the following way:

Regular, weekly posts will be assessed using a heuristic ✓/+/- system (see below). They will constitute approximately 40% of the blog grade (20% of your final grade).

• Significant posts will be assessed using a numerical grade and a rubric (details TBD in conversation with the class). They will constitute approximately 40% of the blog grade (again, 20% of the final grade).

• Research process posts will be assessed using the heuristic ✓/+/- system. They will constitute the remaining 20% of the blog grade (10% of the final grade).

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The grading scale in this class is mildly unusual. I use a 10-point scale which corresponds to letter grades in the following way:

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D F

Heuristic grades will be assessed quickly, with minimal or no commentary according to a ✓/+/- system: ✓+ = 9; ✓ = 6.5; ✓-= 4. Missing work will be assigned a 0. (For more, see Late, Missing, or Otherwise Problematic Work.)

Final grades will be calculated according to the weighing listed above, and then converted back to letters, rounded to the nearest half point, with the following caveats:
1. I will drop your two lowest weekly blog post grades.
2. Anything above an 8 rounds to an A; anything below a 2 rounds to a D; anything below a 1 rounds to an F.
3. I create complex multipart spreadsheets to allow this grading. However, as I mentioned above, these numbers seem like objectivity and rigorous quantification. They are not. I will introduce a “fudge factor” into a grade if I feel the numerical calculation leads to a perverse result in some way. (Typically, these adjustments will only ever be in the students’ favor, fudging ever upwards. However, in exceptional circumstances, I reserve the right to fudge downward.)

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You will receive regular grade reports by email, approximately every 5 weeks (in weeks 5, 10, and 15). These will be cumulative and will pull together your participation and blog grades. In addition to these regular grade reports, you will receive substantial comments and a mark from me within two weeks of your “significant” posts. If you would like written feedback on your final projects, you must contact me to request comments by our final meeting.