CSCE 531 Spring 2008: Grading Policy (Subject to Update)

  • Homework (other than programs): 15%
  • Programming Assignments: 40%
  • Midterm: 15% (if two midterms, 7.5% each)
  • Final Exam: 25%
  • Quizzes and In-Class Exercises: 5%
  • Some quizzes will be based on the assigned readings. Many quizzes are actually in-class exercises, based on the material just covered in class. The first purpose of quizzes is to encourage attendance, because any student who attempts all quizzes gets full credit for them. A student can make up a correctly answered quiz for a missed quiz, up to a small number (typically 2-3) that depends on how many quizzes are given. The second purpose is to make people aware of a key issue discussed in the lecture.

    In order to pass the course with a grade of C or better, a minimum raw score of 60% on the midterm and final exam is needed. Homework must be turned in typed; exceptions will be made for assignments requiring figures or unusual formatting. Homework will normally be assigned on Fridays. It will normally be due at the beginning of class on the following Wednesday and will normally be returned on the following Monday. Homework turned in late is subject to a 10% per day penalty, subject to the provision that no credit is given to homework turned in after the beginning of class (normally Friday) following the one when the homework is due. Graduate students will be required to carry out an additional programming assignment, or present a paper in class, or both.

    Each student is expected to attend all classes for this course and is responsible for all material covered in class or assigned. In particular, absence from more than nine scheduled classes, whether excused or unexcused, is excessive and may result in a grade penalty. Quizzes (or, more often, in class exercise) are designed to emphasize a salient issue in the lecture of the day or in a previous lecture. Another purpose of quizzes is to take attendance. Students who take all quizzes will receive full credit for them. Missed quizze may be replaced by correctly answered quizzes, up to a number (usually four), which is determined by the instructor, mainly as a function of how many quizzes are given.

    Each student must follow the University Honor Code and turn in his or her work. You are encouraged to discuss the material you study, but you must do your homework individually, unless an assignment is explicitly designated as a team assignment. The minimum grade penalty for a violation will be a zero on the work involved. In addition, an honor code violation will be subject to the sanctions described in the USC Community Handbook and Policy Guide. The following paragraph, written by Professor Duncan Buell, clarifies the distinction between "learning from a discussion" and "turning in someone else's work": If, after having participated in a group activity, you can walk away, put the books down, have lunch, and then come back afterwards to re-create from your own head the material and techniques you discussed as a group, then you can legitimately say that you have learned from the group but the work you turn in is your own.

    Programming assignments should be developed to run in the UNIX environment. Please comment your code, when appropriate. They must be submitted using the dropbox program on the Sun Ultra or Linux computers in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. This program is accessible at Your programs may be tested using Java 1.3 on the Sun Ultra or Linux computers in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering using automated testing procedures, so it is important that you follow exactly the instructions for program code submission. Further details on how to submit programs will be announced later. Results of automated testing will be sent to your address.