EN123    Grading Contract    Fall, 2007   JD Daniels

I tell you in advance what is required to earn a C/S, B, A, or A+ for EN123.

For links to write-ups of the labs and quizzes, go to the Scorecard.

To pass the course (C/S), do Labs 0, 0.5, 1, 3, 4pre, 5, 7, 9, & A and answer Quiz 2 correctly, and fill out evaluation forms on the last day of class.

To earn a B meet the requirements for a C plus Labs 2, 4B and 6 and correctly answer Quiz 1.

To earn an A (1) Meet the requirements for a B plus Labs 4C, 8, B, LT, and answer correctly Quiz 3 by the last day of instruction. (2) If 2/3 of the maximum number of students who showed up to one of the first 3 class meetings of 123 = N is less than the number of students meeting requirement 1, then Labzilla will be invoked: each student, individually, will control and be able to reprogram a stepper-driven rover that will participate in a double elimination tournament. Losers will be matched with losers until the number left is less than or equal to 2/3(N).

Labzilla has been motivated by the fact that the Princeton Faculty voted in Spring 2004 to limit A's to 35% of the grades there.

An A with distinction ("A+") may be awarded either to (1) the first 5 students to finish the part 1 requirements for an A by the last day of instruction, or (2) the top 5 finishers in the Labzilla tournament. For an A+ you must also maintain credit for Lab minus 1. An A+ student will be deputized as an Honorary Teaching Assistant and be empowered to sign off other students' labs!

All students must also fill out evaluation forms for the course; this requirement will normally be met by attending the last lecture of EN123, where the course will be reviewed and refreshments served.

The good news: There are no problem sets, no midterm, no final exam and no lab reports to hand in. Hey, there's not even a textbook to buy... All your effort will be in the design and implementation of hardware, software and wet-ware solutions to the Lab problems, and correctly answering various quizzes.

You can have Labs or Quizzes signed off until Noon, Friday, Dec 14, 2007. One exception: Lab 8 must be finished before Thanksgiving. Labzilla, if invoked, will take place during the week of Dec 10-14.

EN123 Exclusion Principle
("Time is Nature's way of preventing everything from happening all at once.")
You can have only one lab signed off per day. Furthermore we institute the following scheme to limit the number of labs signed off per week:

Index card limit: At the beginning of each week we will place in a box in BaHo Lab 095 a set of M+N index cards, where M is the number of student enrolled in EN123, and N is the maximum number of students who showed up to EN123 during the first 3 class meetings (In 2005 N was 28, in 2006 N was 24). Each of the M cards will have one of the current students names on it; the other N cards will be uncommitted floaters. Each time a student finishes a lab that student will receive one of the index cards, starting with the card which has his or her name on it. The N floater cards will be given out to students who, that week, finish additional labs. For a particular student, once his or her earmarked card is claimed, and all the floaters have been taken, the student needs to wait until the next week to have a additional lab signed off.

For the first week of the course, Columbus Day Week, Thanksgiving week, and the last week of the course, only N floater cards will be available.

A week begins on Monday.

Your official times to have labs signed off are M-F between 10a.m. and 4pm, excluding noon-1pm and the MWF 10a.m. lecture time. Lab 095 will be locked after 5pm.

The Future: If you finish a second Lab in one day you can have it signed off in the future--normally the next weekend... For the last week of the course there is no "future".

Who signs your scorecard: While the 2007 TA (and emeritus TA John Raiti) are empowered to sign off any of the labs by asking the FTQ, on the scorecard you hand in at least half of the labs must be signed off by JD.

Lab Partners
You should team up with a lab partner. Normally a lab that meets specifications will be demonstrated with both lab partners present, then each one of you will answer a "fault tolerance question" individually to have the lab signed off on your scorecards. There are no lab partners for Labs 0 or 0.5 or 6.

You and your lab partner will pick a team name (a Greek letter or military alphabet term like Alpha or Bravo) and sign up for a guaranteed appearance time (GAT) where at least once a week we meet in person outside of lecture and I note your progress in the course. On the website will be a weekly calendar listing all the allotted GATs. Additionally, we will urge you to consider three more two-hour sessions per week, since most of the work in EN123 takes place in the lab, and the lab is locked after 5pm.

If one lab partner is not present during the first presentation of a lab, the second partner will need to demonstrate everything again at his or her convenience.

Keeping Score
Once you meet the requirements for a Lab JD will
hand you a signed index card, then initial your scorecard. You can also enter your progress on the public scoreboard in the lab. Then go celebrate! When you finish the course you must hand in in person your scorecard to JD.

What it means to "meet the requirements."
You'll notice the Lab Writeups are in the form of specifications: "do this..., do that...", or measurements: "What is the common mode rejection ratio?" You must meet all specs and be able to demonstrate all measurements. There is no partial credit.

Invariably, you and your lab partner will have put together some circuit, created some LabVIEW virtual instrument, or built some mechanical arrangement of sensors and substrates. If it works as expected, great. Otherwise I and my TAs are there to help you troubleshoot problems; in fact if you're frustrated we can help you build it all from scratch. (A process whose detail you may decide is too uncomfortable to endure to completion...)

Remember, what's important is demonstrating something that works: how you got there--all on your own, with the help of fellow students, or the TAs, or JD--is not part of the grading process.

While it is not necessary to hand in your designs and notes about the various labs, it will turn out to be important to keep notes, data sheets, and good documentation, both for troubleshooting and for answering FTQs (see below). If you ask for help we may request to see your circuit design drawn out on paper. Yes, LabVIEW is basically self-documenting, but it will be useful to add notes to your panels and diagrams to remind you and my TA what is going on. If we ask you a question about your circuit diagram and your response is fumbling through scraps of paper, no one will be happy. If you wire a circuit with random colors of wire, or all the same color, or wires that are too long, or too short, confusion may arise.

And see website section on Saving Examples of Student Work for ABET.

Getting started.
Each of you must do Labs 0 and 0.5 first, then you're qualified to
continue as you see fit. It's probably best to do the labs in sequence, since there may be issues with parts available. I estimate it may take anywhere from one to 10 hours to finish a lab. Lab partners can be selected after Labs 0 and 0.5.

The Fault Tolerance Question. Once you and your lab partner have demonstrated successfully the requirements of a lab, JD will ask (individually) a question about what will be different if a wire is pulled out, or an input is changed, or a signal is rerouted, or a line of code is changed, or perhaps some calculation based on theory you have learned from lecture... it will be at our discretion as to what kind of question will be asked. You'll want to think carefully about the answer: if your answer is wrong then you must try another question, waiting until the next day before the next FTQ can be asked.

JD or the TA will be the judge of whether your answer includes enough information to be correct. We estimate you may think for about 10-15 minutes before answering.

Answers such as, "The same thing happened to a friend of mine," or "The circuit just won't work anymore," or "It depends on what you mean by 'what'," or "I've gotta go have lunch now," are unacceptable.

Over the course of the semester, you may spend a comparable amount of time with oral "fault tolerance questions" (FTQs) as you would sitting through a midterm and final exam.

Help. If you're frustrated, double check power supply voltages on your hardware, double check the correct chip has the correct pins wired, likely with a color-coded scheme. For software, single-step through the diagram, or set displays to show what's going on where (for example count loop indices). Once you've exhausted the basics of troubleshooting, your next level of help is sleeping on your problem overnight. After that go over the problem again with your lab partner. Next seek help from the TA. If you're still frustrated, seek out JD for advice. I will first ask you to show me your documentation, and we may go through a Socratic question-and-answer cycle. But if nothing works to fix your circuit/software I will rebuild the lab myself, while you watch. In fact if your work is a big mess to begin with, starting over may be the first step... You are guaranteed that you will eventually have a working lab, and that your only obstacle then to having a lab signed off is answering correctly a FTQ.

At two times during the semester there will be in-class quizzes handed out. We estimate it may take you about 20 minutes to figure out your answer.

More no partial credit: Those who don't figure out the correct Quiz answer will have the opportunity to take a similar quiz again, a few days later. If a wrong answer appears again, you will be given an oral quiz until you generate a correct answer.

Signing off quizzes does not count against the one-lab-per-day limitation, and you will not need an index card for a successful quiz.

The last week: During the last week of the course there will be help on as-needed basis. No "office hours" or GAT in the Lab. While we will be around Barus & Holley to sign off working labs, there is no guarantee of thorough troubleshooting for labs that fail to meet specs. You are urged to finish all the labs you want by the last day of instruction. Furthermore, after Thanksgiving there will be less immediate help available (no "guaranteed appearance times" penalties...)

Finishing. When you've finished enough labs and quizzes for the grade you want, and have filled out student evaluation forms, turn in your scorecard, likely right after the last lecture. I will check your scorecard for proper signatures and dates.

Qualifications and Authority. I guarantee that the requirements for the various grades will not be increased during the semester, although various assignment requirements may be fine-tuned or tweaked along the way. I will be the authority for granting any variances from the requirements, and will listen to protests that certain labs were "too hard." Circumstances beyond your control (medical, legal) may in my judgement qualify you for an extremely time-limited Incomplete grade.