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Assessment Overview

A summary of the three mechanisms that will be used to assess your performance in the course is below. Please note the course grading policy, which describes how these three assignments will be used to determine your final course grade.


This class is effectively a research seminar, and it is the most fun and rewarding when everyone comes to each class meeting prepared to discuss the assigned paper. I ask that you demonstrate your preparation by being ready to engage in discussion. You need not have complete mastery of the paper that we are discussing — but having a comment to offer or question to ask is always appreciated. If you do not feel comfortable participating in class, please reach out to me — I would like to create an environment that is welcoming for discussion, and would not like to inadvertently penalize a student who struggled to find a moment to speak up in class. As an alternative, you may also (or instead) post on the class Discord a brief (3-5 sentence) reaction to the papers that we will be discussing in class, and engage in discussion through text.

I will provide you with weekly feedback on your participation in class, at the level of “check”, “check -“ and “check +.” If you receive a “check -“, you may replace that week’s grade with a check by coming to my office hours (or scheduling a time outside of office hours) to have a brief discussion about your thoughts on that week’s papers. Your final participation grade will be calculated as follows:

  • Receive a Check on participation if at least 12/14 Check’s or Check+’s throughout the semester.
  • Receive a Check - on participation if at least 12/14 Check-‘s, Check’s or Check+’s throughout the semester.

Note that this policy allows you to entirely miss up to two weeks of participation, with no penalty on your final grade.

Remote Participation

If you are registered for an on-the-ground section are not able to attend in person (for any reason), please contact your instructor at least 12 hours in advance of the scheduled class (no need to share a specific reason or photo of a COVID test). Please, note that we are not well-equipped to offer a symmetrical experience for remote attendance and in-person attendance, and do not consider joining remotely as a perfect substitute, but rather an improvement over missing class entirely. No student should expect to have this accomodation granted more than three times during the semester.

Reflection Paper

The goal of the reflection paper is for you to select a topic of particular personal interest, identify four research articles (that are not required readings for this course), read them, and organize your reaction to the topic in a reflection paper. The reflection paper provides you to an opportunity to apply critical reasoning skills in the context of the research papers that we discuss in class, and to dig deeper into a topic of your own particular interest. The expected length of the reflection paper is roughly 2,500 words. The paper will be accompanied by a presentation.

Reflection Paper Details and Rubric

Intermediate deliverables:

Implementation Project

The project will involve a hands-on application of the techniques and tools that we discuss in class, and can be completed either individually or in a group of at most two. Topics for the project will be discussed in the first seven weeks of class, and your specific project topic will be finalized soon after. Both research-oriented projects (which implement and evaluate some new idea) and engineering-oriented projects (which make contributions to tools that developers may already use) are welcomed.

Implementation Project Details and Rubric

Other deliverables:

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