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Doing the following will make your grader happy. Happy graders tend to give happier scores!

  1. Type your work. For most assignments, typing will be faster, easier for you to edit, and easier for me to read.
  2. Be neat and clear, especially if you insist on writing. I have terrible handwriting, but I can't type comments onto your papers. I'll try to be clear, so please do the same.
  3. Use one side of the page, especially if you're writing. Notebook paper is notoriously thin.
  4. Staple your work. Loose papers quickly get lost, and paper clips are bulky and less secure.
  5. Write your name clearly on your paper (obviously?).
  6. Explain yourself! For CS177, Homework 1, #1a, answering "integrity" will lose points because the main problem is confidentiality. However, explaining that the source integrity is compromised because the homework is submitted under a different name will more likely earn partial credit.
  7. Do everything correctly! =)

Things you don't have to do.

  1. Unless your professor insists on it, you don't have to repeat the question on your homework submission. You can if you want, but I don't need it.

My grading philosophy

I start with full points and take off points here and there, instead of building up from zero. I seem to end up with higher scores overall when I grade this way.

I make a lot of comments and ugly red marks, but I try not to take off too many points.

If most people are making the same mistake due to some ambiguity or other reasonable error, I try to take off fewer points. The curve will even things out anyway, and if everyone has 8 out of 10 instead of 4, then everyone's happier.

Incidentally, midterm and final exams are graded more strictly than homeworks.

Why precision is more important than accuracy

(a.k.a. I won't give you points just because you beg)

Consider a group of students whose work should all be assigned a score of exactly 80%.

A precise scoring of these works would assign the same grade to all of them. Thus, it would be precise to give them all a 50% score.

An accurate scoring would assign the same mean score, so perhaps one student would receive 60%, one would receive 80%, and one would receive 100%.

If the scoring were both precise and accurate, every student would receive 80%.

Obviously, both precision and accuracy are important, and I will strive to grade with both in mind. However, when I am forced to choose one of the two to concentrate on, I will always choose precision. Why?

Since almost every class in the CS department is graded on a skewed (curved) system as opposed to grading purely by percentage, it is your performance relative to your classmates that determines your grade, not the percentage of points you get with respect to any fixed scale.

As long as I grade consistently with respect to your classmates, your grade will not be affected.

Consider the example above. If all students that should receive 80% instead receive 50%, and the rest of the scores are shifted similarly, the letter grades in the end will not have changed. Those receiving 50% would still get Bs, etc. However if some people who should get 80% get a 60% and others get a 100%, the average score would be the same, but some people would be unfairly punished or rewarded even though they turned in similar work. In this second case, the letter grades in the end WOULD change.

This is why I won't often regrade: you can rest assured that even if you think I took off too many points, everyone else who made the same mistake got docked the same amount. In the end, it won't matter.

This is also why I take points off from a full score, rather than buliding up from zero. I end up with higher (and perhaps inaccurate) scores, but they will still be precise. And I'm sure you'd rather look at a 80% than a 50%, even if everyone else in the class got the same grade.
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