MTH 225: Discrete Structures for Computer Science 1 -- Fall 2015 Syllabus
- Meetings: Section 01 of the course meets MWF 9:00--9:50am. Section 02 meets MWF 10:00-10:50am. Both sections meet in Mackinac Hall A-2-167.
- Prerequisite: MTH 122 or MTH 123 or MTH 201 or assignment through Grand Valley math placement.
- Textbook: Applied Discrete Structures, March 2013 edtition by Alan Doerr and Kenneth Levasseur. Available free online at http://applied-discrete-structures.wiki.uml.edu/. This will be our primary text for the first half of the course. The second half will use homemade notes and a collection of other free online resources.
- Computer requirements: You will need access to a portable computing device such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone for occasional in-class computer work. Ideally, you should bring your device with you to class each day unless this is a logistical issue. If you do not have access to such a device or cannot bring yours to class on a particular day, the Mathematics Department has loaner devices (Android tablets and Chromebooks) you can use, but you must give the professor at least 24 hours' notice if you intend to use one.
- Software requirements: Each student will need to create an account on SageMath Cloud (http://cloud.sagemath.com) for programming activities and homework writeups. SageMath Cloud is a cloud-based computing platform and so no downloading or installation is necessary; accounts are free. Also, we will use Blackboard for announcements, posting content, and recording grades as well as email for frequent course communication; you will need access to a high-speed internet connection and an email account that you check regularly.
- Instructor: Robert Talbert, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics
- Office: Mackinac Hall A-2-168
- Instructor website: http://rtalbert.org
- How to contact Prof. Talbert: The best way to reach me is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also on Twitter at @RobertTalbert, on Google+ at http://google.com/+RobertTalbert, and on GitHub at http://github.com/RobertTalbert. My office phone is (616)331-8968 but be advised that I am frequently out of the office except during posted office hours.
- Email policy: You can expect to receive a response to any email that you send within 24 hours, often much sooner, if it is sent during regular business hours (8am-5pm MTWRF). Be aware that I typically do not check email between 7pm and 7am on any day, and not at all on the weekends in order to prioritize time with family. Therefore if you send an email during these times, you may not get a response until at least 12 hours later, possibly days later, so please plan ahead with your questions.
- Office hours: A set of fixed, weekly open drop-in times for office hours will be set up in collaboration with students during the first week of class. Once those times are set, if you need a consultation but cannot make office hours, you are free to st up consultations by appointment with me. Appointment consultations are typically 15 minutes in length. When visiting the office, please plan ahead and bring a list of specific questions you have in mind along with documentation of the work you have already tried. If you have not tried work on a question you are asking in office hours, I will ask you to come back later once you have worked.
Why are We Here?
What the course is about
The two-semester sequence in Discrete Structures for Computer Science is a comprehensive introduction to ideas from mathematics that are foundational to modern computer science. MTH 225 is the first course of this sequence. It focuses on five main content areas:
- Sets: A fundamental "data structure" in mathematics that gives us a language to talk about collections and structures elsewhere, especially in computer science.
- Counting: Methods of enumerating complex arrangements of objects in a set (for example, counting the number of ways one can get a staight flush in poker).
- Logic: The basic language of both mathematics and computer science, allowing us to automate processes, make decisions, and evaluate arguments.
- Proof: An application of logic and critical thinking to establish truths in mathematics and computer science without relying on observation alone.
- Probability: Using the concepts of sets, counting, and logic to give precise notions of likelihood of events (for example, the chances of being dealt a straight flush in poker).
All five of these ideas have deep connections to, and countless applications in, computer science. You'll be exploring those connections as part of the course.
MTH 225 is only partially about becoming fluent in doing mathematical computation, as you might have done in a high school mathematics course. The course is more about computational thinking than it is about computation itself. Through this course and its sequel, MTH 325, you will add to your skills as a computer scientists so that you will be more than just a programmer: You'll be the kind of person who can break down complex problems, find patterns among the pieces, make conjectures about how the problem works in the abstract, and design arguments and algorithms for solving the problem.
What you will do in the course
A successful student in MTH 225 will, throughout the semester, demonstrate evidence that she or he has done all of the following. These are our foundational learning objectives and everything we do in the course points back to these:
- Students will recall and use mathematical terminology, theorems, rules, algorithms, and notation from the five main content areas of the course correctly in all course work without syntactic, semantic, or logical error.
- Students will apply basic mathematical concepts from the five main content areas of the course to solve both theoretical and practical problems.
- Students will apply the basic concepts of mathematical proof (direct proof, indirect proof, and proof by induction) to analyze written proofs and construct new proofs of their own.
- Students will describe the uses of mathematics as a way of knowing in computer science and mathematical proof as a way of establishing knowledge in math and computer science.
- Students will identify and describe connections between the mathematical content of the course (sets, counting, logic, proof, probability) and the elements of computer science (algorithms, data structures, programs).
- Students will use computers as a tool for engaging in computational thinking, particularly through the use of the Python programming language.
- Students will learn new technical content independently and practice skills and behaviors connected with effective self-regulated learning.
- Students will be active, caring, and productive contributors to the class learning community.
Later on, we'll expand on exactly what this will look like on a day-to-day basis and how you'll be assessed on these goals.
What is expected of you in MTH 225
Generally speaking: Students in MTH 225 are expected to be active contributors in each class meeting, and maintain regular and purposeful engagement with the class between class meeetings by completing pre-class assignments and homework and by engaging with others (office hours, group study, etc.). During classes, you are expected to be present, engaged, and both helpful and respectful to others. Between classes, you are expected to work regularly and seek help when you need it.
Specifically speaking: Here are some specific things you are expected to do in the course.
- You are expected to spend 2--3 hours outside of class on purposeful work in MTH 225, for every hour of in-class meeting time. This amounts to 6--9 hours per week outside of MTH 225, working on MTH 225. This equates to roughly 1.5--2.5 hours per day if you leave the weekends open.
- [more to come]
Fair Warning: This is not a lecture-oriented class or one in which mimicking prefabricated examples will lead you to success. You will be expected to work actively to construct your own understanding of the topics at hand, with the readily available help of the professor and your classmates. Many of the concepts you learn and problems you work will be new to you and ask you to stretch your thinking. You will experience frustration and failure before you experience understanding. This is part of the normal learning process. Your viability as a professional in the modern workforce depends on your ability to embrace this learning process and make it work for you. You are supported on all sides by the professor and your classmates (see "Learning Community"). But no student is exempt from the process and the hard work it entails.
A Typical Day in MTH 225
As a student in MTH 225, you'll find the course to be very active, with individual and group activities both during and between classes designed to help you encounter course content productively and make sense out of it. There are both things to do before, during, and after class meetings that occur in a regular and predictable rhythm that you will get used to very quickly.
BEFORE class meetings
Before each class meeting in which we encounter a new idea or concept, you'll be asked to complete an assignment called Guided Practice that is designed to walk you through the new material and gain some basic fluency with it. Guided Practice assignments consist of an overview of the new material, a list of learning objectives so you'll know what you are supposed to learn, a list of resources from the text and elsewhere that will help you learn, and finally some simple exercises to test your newly-acquired knowledge.
Guided Practice assignments are done in your private notes and the answers are submitted online using a special form. They are graded on a Pass/No Pass basis. A grade of Pass is awarded if all the exercises on the Guided Practice assignment are completed and show a good-faith effort to produce a right answer, and if they are submitted no later than one hour before class time. "Good-faith effort" includes giving speculations or best educated guesses if you are not sure about something; answering "I don't know" on a Guided Practice exercise will earn a No Pass grade for the assignment.
Note that correctness is not a criterion for your grade on these because you are likely to misunderstand something if you are learning it independently for the first time, and this is not something to be penalized.
Also before class meetings, you will be tasked with completing homework on the topic discussed in the previous class. This homework is called Homework A. (There is also a "Homework B" that will be described later.) Homework A consists of basic-level exercises that go beyond the really-basic-level exercises from Guided Practice to set up class activities. You will work Homework A out on paper and bring this paper to class with you.
Summary: Before each class, you'll be responsible for completing the Guided Practice on the new unit and the Homework A from the previous unit, so you'll always be connecting new knowledge to older knowledge.
DURING class meetings
When you arrive at class, you'll be assigned into a working group for the day. Most class meeting times will be spent in three phases working in your group:
- When you arrive at class, the answers and brief solutions for the Guided Practice will be displayed on screen. You'll settle into your groups and spend 5 minutes checking your Guided Practice work and helping each other understand any points of misconception. I will strive to have the Guided Practice answers on the screen 5 minutes before class starts, so if you show up early you will have extra time to discuss them and ask questions.
- After discussing Guided Practice, you will then start discussing the day's Homework A with your group. Each student will pick up a colored felt-tip pen at the beginning of class that will be used to take notes and make corrections on the Homework A; this way, I'll be able to evaluate what was done before class while enabling you to make changes during class. Each group will be assigned one (1) of the Homework A questions and present this question at the board for classwide discussion. To prepare for this presentation, each group will make sure all members of the group understand the solution, and then each group selects a representative to write it on the board and talk the rest of the class through it. We'll spend at least 20-30 minutes of each class discussing Homework A problems in this way.
- After the Homework A presentations, if there is time remaining, additional in-class activities will be prepared for you to work in your groups.
- The final 3-5 minutes of each class will be spent on a short writing activity such as a one-minute paper in which you'll be asked to summarize, analyze, and ask questions.
Both your Homework A papers and your group's presentation on Homework A will be graded on a Pass/No Pass basis:
- For Homework A papers, which will be collected during class, a Pass grade will be awarded if you have made a good-faith effort to give a correct answer to each question and your work is clearly written and easy to understand. A No Pass grade will be given otherwise.
- For Homework A presentations, a Pass grade will be awarded if the presentation shows all the relevant work an the thought process is explained to the best of your ability. A No Pass grade will be given otherwise.
Note that, as with Guided Practice, actual correctness is not a factor in the grading of Homework A-related items. All you are expected to do is give your best effort, try to be right, and make your reasoning clear.
Summary: Class time is spent in a workflow of checking Guided Practice, preparing and then presenting and discussing solutions to Homework A, working in groups on additional in-class problems, and then doing short writing assignments.
AFTER class meetings
After the class meeting is done, you'll be assigned the Guided Practice for the next unit and the Homework A for the unit whose Guided Practice you just discussed. For example, if on Monday we discuss the Guided Practice for section 2.2 and the Homework A for 2.1, on Wednesday we will discuss Guided Practice 2.3 and Homework A for 2.2. This cycle, for the most part, repeats throughout the semester.
Occasionally you will also be assigned a deeper and more difficult set of homework problems called Homework B. Whereas the purpose of Homework A is to familiarize you with basic ideas and set you up for further in class work, Homework B is designed to take your thinking to the next level, involving analysis, synthesis, and creative activities (sometimes including programming assignments). Homework B problems are particularly important because they are involved in certifying on learning bundles (see "Grading System"). Homework B is graded on a three-level rubric that is described in the separate document "Specifications for Student Work".
Also, between classes you will have the opportunity to work on Big Picture items which involve expressing your understanding of the connections between math and computer science, your learning processes, and what you are learning from failure. Big Picture items are described further in the "Grading System" section of the syllabus.
MTH 225 Assessment and Grading
This course uses a mastery-based system for earning letter grades in which you earn grades by demonstrating mastery on a certain range and number of tasks in the course, by completing them at a professionally acceptable level of quality. This system is designed to give you, the student, control over the grade you earn and a final course grade that is truly reflective of your effort and mastery of the subject.
At the beginning of the semester, you will be asked to set a goal for the grade that you wish to earn. This grade does not have to be an "A". Many MTH 225 students do not need, or want, a grade of A in the class; and although you should strive to do the best you can, getting a grade of less than A is perfectly acceptable if it is truly the best choice for you. You should set your goal to be a grade that is realistic relative to your interest level, skill set, time and energy available, and life situation -- whether that grade is an A, B, C, or something else.
Once you have set a goal, you will then work toward that goal grade by completing a collection of tasks associated with that goal. The higher the grade you wish to earn, the more numerous and difficult the tasks you will need to complete. Your letter grade in the course will be determined simply by counting the number of tasks you completed with a professionally acceptable level of quality.
Specifications for Student Work and method of scoring
This "professionally acceptable level of quality" is explicitly spelled out in a document separate from this syllabus called Specifications for Student Work in MTH 225, which we refer to as "the specs document". The specs document spells out in detail what "professionaly acceptable" means; it means different things for different kinds of work. It is very important that you read the specs document carefully early on and refer back to it frequently, especially when you are preparing work to submit.
An important and possibly unusual facet of this grading system is that none of the work you do in the course has any point value attached to it. Instead, your work will be graded simply according whether or not, in my best professional judgment, it meets the specifications for that type of work. This judgment is not arbitrary or subjective; my assessment will be based on the same specifications that you are asked to abide by. We will also have several opportunties during the semester to practice grading work samples to help you become skilled at assessing your own work according to the specs.
Work that contributes to the course grade
The syllabus has already discussed Guided Practice and Homework A, how these are graded (on a Pass/No Pass basis), and where they fit into the overall flow of the course. There are three other facets of your work in the course that contribute to your grade: learning bundles, the learning community, and the Big Picture.
Certification and re-certification on learning bundles
The content of the course is divided into 5 learning bundles, one for each main content area in the course: Sets, Counting, Logic, Proof, and Probability. Each bundle consists of items, which are learning objectives related to the bundle, and you will be asked to supply evidence during the course that you have mastered those items. The items are either at level 1 (easy to moderate difficulty) or level 2 (moderate to high difficulty). The specific items included in each learning bundle are detailed in the specs document.
You will need to certify on each learning bundle at a particular level to progress toward your goal grade for the course. Certification involves two different activities:
- At several points during the semester we will have class meetings dedicated to certification. During these periods, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of a learning bundle by answering a collection of questions on each level of each bundle that we have completed in class. Your work on a learning bundle will be assessed as a whole (not problem-by-problem) and assigned either a Pass rating or a Repeat rating. For the meanings of these ratings, please see the specs document mentioned earlier.
- In addition to the in-class certification opportunities, each Homework B problem will be tagged with a bundle and a level associated with it.
In order to certify in a bundle:
- At level 1: Earn a Pass rating on the level 1 certification packet AND a Pass rating on half of the Homework B problems for that bundle and level.
- At level 2: Certify in the bundle at level 1, AND earn a Pass rating on the level 2 certification packet AND a Pass rating on all but 1 of the Homework B problems for that bundle and level.
Each certification period will be cumulative. For example during the first certification period there will be a certification packet for Sets Level 1 and Sets Level 2; during the second period there will be a new version of Sets Level 1 and Sets Level 2 along with Counting Level 1 and Counting Level 2, and so on through the end of the semester. In this way, if you do not certify on a bundle at a particular level in one attempt, you may try again later after studying your previous work. However: You are only allowed two attempts to certify on any level of a bundle. If you have attempted a level of a bundle twice and not yet certified, you may spend a token (below) to have another attempt.
A student may opt not to attempt certification on a bundle in a given period if he or she is not ready to be certified. In fact a student can skip a certification period entirely, without penalty to his or her grade. During a certification period, you should focus on certifying in a small number of bundles on which he or she is confident of demonstrating mastery, rather than attempting all of them and producing sub-mastery work on most or all of them.
Additionally, to earn a grade of "C" or higher, students must re-certify on one or more of the bundles by re-taking the certification checks. Recertification takes place during the last week of classes and the final exam; students may not recertify prior to those dates. Recertification does not require repetition of Homework B problems.
Certification as a member of the MTH 225 learning community
This class is more than just a class, it is a community of learners and a source of help, support, and ideas for each other. Being an active, caring, and productive member of this learning community means that you are consistently well-prepared for class, productive during class activities, and helpful in adding value to other students' learning.
These characteristics are measured by:
- Completing Guided Practice assignments at a Pass level
- Completing Homework A assignments at a Pass level
- Successfuly contributing to group presentations on Homework A at a Pass level
- Occasionally being the person who makes your group's Homework A presentation
During a typical class meeting you will be doing at least three things: Turning in Guided Practice (done online prior to class), turning in a paper copy of your work on Homework A, and being in a group to present one of the Homework A problems on the board to the class. There are 31 such days planned, so 93 instances of these three activities. To certify in the learning community:
- At level 1: Present one Homework A problem as a representative of your group at a Pass level; AND attain a total combination of 70 Pass-rated Guided Practice submissions, Homework A submissions, and group presentations of Homework A.
- At level 2: Present two Homework A problems as a representative of your group at a Pass level; AND attain a total combination of 80 Pass-rated Guided Practice submissions, Homework A submissions, and group presentations of Homework A.
Additionally, students who certify as a level 2 member of the Learning Community and attain a total combination of 90 Pass-rated activities will earn an additional token (see below).
Some of the main learning objectives for the course pertain to your ability to articulate the larger context into which the course fits. The Big Picture is a collection of activities of three types that assess these goals:
- Connections activities are activities that ask you to explore the connections between mathematics (especially MTH 225) and computer science.
- Learning How to Learn activities are add-on activities done in conjunction with other class work that ask you to examine your own thinking and learning processes.
- Productive Failure activities are add-ons to revisions of your work (either bundle certifications or Homework B assignments) that ask you reflect on your failures and what you learned from them.
Like the other two main areas, the Big Picture has two levels of certification.
- At level 1: Complete a combination of five (5) activities, including one activity from each subcategory.
- At level 2: Complete a combination of eight (8) activities, including two activities from each subcategory.
A list of Big Picture activities will be posted to the course web site and possibly added to throughout the semester. Note that these activities do not necessarily involve writing, although you can create a written document to satisfy the requirements for the activity.
What letter grades mean
Before describing how to earn various grades in the course, let's be clear on what those grades mean.
A grade of A indicates exceptional accomplishment in the course. An "A" student has demonstrated consistently outstanding work in all facets and levels of the course, including not only basic homework but Big Picture items, written work, difficult theoretical problems, and class discussion contrbutions. An "A" student is a leader in the classroom, giving generously to classmates who need help and adding significant value to the learning experiences of the class as a whole. Additionally, an "A" student is someone who not only can "do math" but also has keen insights to the connections between mathematics and computer science and who can articulate those connections and the meaning of the mathematics she or he is learning through excellent written and oral communications. A grade of "A" is rare.
A grade of B describes a student who has demonstrated mastery of all the foundational elements of the course and has shown mastery of a significant portion of the advanced ideas in the course. A "B" student can articulate the meaning of what she or he is learning and make insightful connections to computer science and elsewhere. A "B" student also adds significant value to the learning experiences of others as a helpful, positive, and productive member of the class both in class meetings and out. A student with a "B" or higher in the course can move on to MTH 325 and advanced computer science courses (that involve theory) with confidence.
A grade of C indicates baseline competency in the course, through work that shows mastery of all the basic ideas in the course. A "C" student is a consistent contributor in class work and can articulate some of the bigger ideas in the course and connections to outside the course. A grade of "C" is considered the minimum level of attainment in MTH 225 for moving on to MTH 325 and other computer science courses.
A grade of D indicates that baseline competency in the course was not fully met, but some evidence of mastery of the basics is present. A "D" student has significant gaps in his or her understanding of foundational ideas, but is also not a complete failure -- some foundational knowledge is understood and the student was a regular contributor in the learning community. Moving forward to further mathematics or CS courses is not advised until the student can certify his or her knowledge to a further extent.
A grade of F indicates a lack of baseline competency that requires repetition of the course.
Please keep these descriptions in mind as you read the next section.
System for earning letter grades in the course
Letter grades in MTH 225 are assigned according to the number and breadth of the tasks you complete.
- Letter grade of A requires:
- Level 1 and Level 2 certification in all five learning bundles; AND
- Level 1 and Level 2 re-certification in all bundles except Probablity; AND
- Level 2 certification in Big Picture; AND
- Level 2 member of the Learning Community.
- Letter grade of B requires:
- Level 1 certification in all five learning bundles; AND
- Level 2 certification in the Logic bundle plus 2 others of your choice; AND
- Level 1 re-certification in all bundles except Probablity; AND
- Level 2 re-certification in the Logic bundle plus the 2 in which you certified at Level 1; AND
- Level 1 certification in Big Picture; AND
- Level 2 member of the Learning Community.
- Letter grade of C requires:
- Level 1 certification in all five learning bundles; AND
- Level 1 recertification in the Logic bundle; AND
- Level 1 recertification in two bundles of your choice except Probability; AND
- Level 1 certification in Big Picture; AND
- Level 1 member of the Learning Community.
- Letter grade of D requires:
- Level 1 certification in three bundles of your choice; AND
- Level 1 member of the Learning Community.
- A grade of F means that you failed to meet the requirements for a D.
Note: The Probability bundle is excluded from recertification because it appears so late in the semester.
Please note that all requirements for a grade must be met to earn that grade.
Plus/minus grades: A "minus" grade is given for grades A-C if all but one of the requirements for that grade is met. A "plus" grade is given for grades B-D if all the requirements for the base grade are met and at least one requirement from the next grade level up is met. Note that GVSU does not award grades of A+ or D-. For example, meeting all the requirements for a C and then achieving Level 2 certification in Logic, Sets, and Counting would result in a C+. Meeting all the requirements for a B except only certifying as a Level 1 learning community member would result in a B-.
Revisions and grading appeals
Student work on learning bundle in-class certifications and on Homework B problems can be re-attempted if it does not meet specifications. In-class certification work can be reattempted once without penalty if it earns a Repeat rating. Homework B that receives a Repeat+ rating can be revised and resubmitted at any time, up to one resubmission per week (in addition to any new submissions). Homework B that receives a Repeat rating can be similarly revised and resubmitted, but resubmission requires spending one token (see below).
Appealing marks on your work: If you believe that your work has truly met the specifications for acceptable work but it did not receive a Pass rating, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with me to discuss it. I will ask you to make a case for why your work satisfies the specifications, and I will carefully and respectfully consider your case. No tokens need to be spent for this. However, make sure that you have a legitimate case to make and are not frivlously asking for credit.
Each student begins the class with 5 "tokens". These are fake currency that you can "spend" on different modifications to the class rules. Tokens may be used for any of the following:
- A 24-hour deadline extension on a Homework B assignment.
- A revision of a Homework B assignment that was originally rated at Repeat level. (Homework B rated at Repeat+ level can be revised for free.)
- A free "Pass" on a single Homework A or Guided Practice assignment.
- A third or subsequent attempt at a certification packet.
- One item in the Big Picture group. (This may be done only once.)
- Two tokens may be spent to substitute for one individual presentation.
Opportunities to earn additional tokens may occur during the semester.
The pros and cons of this grading system
Our grading system has several distinct advantages for you, the student:
- There are no points to manage and no statistical calculations to fiddle with, to determine your grade. This means that you have transparency as to where you stand at any point in the semester.
- It puts you in the driver's seat for the grade you earn. Your grade is not something you "hope to get" but something you work to earn.
- Since there are no points attached to your work, the grading process tends to be much faster (no hair-splitting over partial credit) and focused on giving detailed and informative feedback.
- This system places a high value on revision and resubmission of work. For example you have multiple opportunities to certify and recertify on learning bundles, and you can revise Homework B assignments until you attain a Pass rating.
- Your grade never drops; it only goes up. Once you have attained a particular grade level, your course grade cannot go below that level again no matter what you do or don't do.
A recent student commented about this grading system: “This class was not the easiest one that I had this semester, but it was definitely the least stressful because of the grading system.”
The main downside of this system is that it can be complicated. I will provide you with tools to track your progress through the course to help make it easier. And if you have any questions or concerns about the system, please let me know.
Other Course Policies
Important dates: Please note these important calendar items.
- September 4: 100% tuition refund deadline (5pm EDT).
- September 6--8: Labor Day recess, no class on Monday Sept 7.
- September 25: 75% tuition refund deadline.
- October 2: Prof. Talbert out of town; class will meet with guest instructor.
- October 7--9: Prof. Talbert out of town; class will meet with guest instructor.
- November 25--29: Thanksgiving Recess, no classes on Wednesday Nov 25 or Friday Nov 27.
- December 12: Last day of classes.
- December 15 (Tuesday): Final exam session for Section 01, 8:00--9:50am.
- December 16 (Wednesday): Final exam session for Section 02, 8:00--9:50am.
- December 24: Course grades avaialable to students.
The 100% and 75% tuition deadlines are September 4 and September 25, respectively.
Attendance and makeup policy: Missing a class meeting means that you are forfeiting your involvement in class activities such as presentations. If you know you are going to miss class, you may give your Homework A to another student to turn in for you; but you may not receive a makeup on presentations of Homework A. The number of classes you can miss before this affects your grade, depends on the grade you wish to earn; see the Grading System discussion above. Otherwise whether you attend class or not is your decision, and you need not inform me of an absence unless you want to. If you have missed several classes due to illness or other life situations and are afraid it is adversely affecting your grade, please contact me to talk about it.
Late submission policy: Deadlines on graded items will be enforced. You may purchase a 24-hour extension on some items through the use of a token. Otherwise no late submissions will be accepted unless you have received approval prior to the deadline or can demonstrate that the lateness was unavoidable. Work that is late that does not have instructor approval is counted as a nonsubmission with no opportunity to revise.
Class cancellation policy: Class cancellations are rare but do happen, due to inclement weather, instructor illness, or instructor family member illness. Class cancellations will be announced as soon as possible through email and through Blackboard. You will be responsible for monitoring both email and Blackboard for instructions. Note that cancellations of class meetings need not mean that class activities are cancelled; in some cases we may move the meeting online so that we don't lose a day. Again, monitor your email and Blackboard for instructions in such cases.
Inclement weather policy: In case inclement weather makes it difficult or dangerous to attend class, you may opt not to attend; if missing class does not affect your grade significantly (see "Attendance and Makeup Policy") then you can simply miss class. Otherwise please contact me for further discussion. Note that the decision not to attend class because of weather does not automatically entitle a student to a makeup of missed work.
Significantly incomplete work policy: Work that is submitted that contains (in the professor’s best professional judgment) significant omissions, or work that does not represent a good-faith effort at completion will be marked as a nonsubmission. Unless the student submits complete work before the 24-hour deadline extension, the work will be treated as a nonsubmission without the possibility of revision.
Academic honesty: Academically honest work by a student is work that authentically reflects the student’s understandings, however incomplete, of the work being done. In any course, but especially an online course where direct observation of your work is not feasible, the need for academic honesty is paramount. Grand Valley State University’s academic honesty and integrity policy is found in Section 3.1 of the GVSU Student Code, found here: http://bit.ly/1fLv3vi Each student has the responsibility for being familiar with this policy and abiding by it. Please note that violations of the Student Code will be pursued vigorously. The minimum penalty for plagiarism or inappropriate collaboration is a non-Passing mark on the affected assignment and an elimination of any further chances to revise the work. In especially egregious cases, the penalty can be significantly more severe, up to and including automatic failure of the course and possible suspension from GVSU. In addition, all violations of academic integrity will be reported to the Dean of Students and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Collaboration: Each item of work has different parameters for the amount of collaboration that is allowed.
- Guided Practice and Homework A: You are allowed to collaborate with others, but the work you submit must reflect your own ideas (and struggles). Remember that correctness is not a grading criterion here, so you have nothing to gain from copying others' work; if you copy another person's work or allow your work to be copied you will be in violation of the GVSU Student Code (above).
- Homework B and Big Picture activities: You are allowed to consult other print or online resources, and you are allowed to use technology (in fact some of these activities will require it). But you are not allowed to share significant ideas with other people except the professor. Evidence of idea-sharing will be treated as a violation of the Student Code (above).
- Learning bundle certifications: No collaboration or use of outside resources allowed at all. These are done during class times and are intended to measure your ability to perform learning objective tasks on demand.
For students with special needs: Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is committed to providing access to programs and facilities for all students, faculty, and staff. GVSU promotes the inclusion of individuals with disabilities as part of our commitment to creating a diverse, intercultural community. It is the policy of GVSU to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended by the ADA Amendment Act (2008), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other applicable federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. GVSU will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. If there is any student in this class who has special needs because of learning, physical, or other disability, please contact me (Prof. Talbert) or the Disability Support Services office (200 STU, 616–331–2490).
Updates to this syllabus: The syllabus is subject to change if amendments and additions are warranted. All changes will be communicated appropriately to the class in this case, and changes will be made to the Google Document version of the syllabus with a time/date stamp indicating when the change was made.