Skip to main content Link Menu Expand (external link) Document Search Copy Copied
Last updated: | Permalink


Your grade in this class will be evaluated based on three assessments:

  • Participation (updated weekly)
  • Reflection Paper (due mid-term)
  • Implementation Project (due at end-of-term)

For each of these three assessments, you will receive a grade of check (satisfactory), check minus (needs improvement), check plus (exemplary) or no credit. Final grades will be assigned as follows:

  • To receive a final grade of A: Receive a grade of at least “check” on all three assessments
  • To receive a final grade of B: Receive a grade of at least “check” on at least two of the three assessments
  • To receive a final grade of C: Receive a grade of at least “check” on at least one of the three assessments

Final grades in-between these marks (e.g. A-/B+/B- etc.) may be assigned at the instructor’s discretion.

I will provide a detailed rubric for each of these three components of your grade at the start of the semester, and will provide you with regular opportunities for feedback. As detailed in the assessments page, participation grades may be improved throughout the semester, and the reflection paper may be revised and re-submited. I will provide you with early feedback on your final project, but since the project is due at the end of the term, it will not be possible to resubmit it. The project will be graded on both effort and results: projects that ultimately don’t work out as intended, but are accompanied by a detailed report explaining what didn’t work and your hypotheses for why that didn’t work are welcome.

The overall philosophy behind this grading scheme is to create the most opportunities for students to engage with the course material, while minimizing stress and anxiety from high-stakes deliverables.

Note that the grade of “check plus” makes no overall benefit on your final course grade. I hope that this course draws a wide range of students, including undergraduates and masters students whose goal is to apply for software engineering roles in industry, PhD students who are interested in this and adjacent research topics, and broadly, any students who are interested in learning more about these topics and engaging with computer science research. I offer the grade of “check plus” as an indication that you have, literally, gone above and beyond what would be expected for a student in this class: perhaps your reflection paper sparked a new research direction, or your implementation project became merged in a major, popular software engineering tool. These are amazing outcomes for this course, but are certainly, by no means expected of any student. Please consider the grade of “check plus” to mean something along the lines of “I would quite enthusiastically write you a reference letter describing your participation/paper/project in my class; you should consider taking this further.” Of course, I’m happy to write reference letters for all of my students — but the “check plus” is a way that I can signal to you, during the semester, that you are greatly exceeding expectations.

The Good Faith Effort Standard

My assessment rubrics refer in multiple places to a “good faith effort.” For instance, students who submit a paper that shows a good faith effort, but does not receive a grade of “Check” will receive detailed feedback on the paper, and be given the option to resubmit the paper, with those revisions. This revision process can be repeated twice. This policy is rooted in the philosophy that, as long as students are trying their best, they should be rewarded for those efforts and provided with support to continue to improve.

Ultimately, this is a process that rewards the effort that you, as a student, put in, separately from the result that you produce — and hence, there must be some working definition for what a “reasonable effort” entails. This is the “good faith effort” — and we can discuss examples in class of what might or might not constitute a good faith effort on an assignment. Abstractly, a “good faith effort” is one wherein you could back up the claim “I tried, and did the best with my knowledge at the time.” One objective point worth noting, however, is that this is a 4-credit-hour course, which, according to the US federal government should equate to 200 minutes per-week of instructions, plus 8-12 hours homework, or equivalent (although there is, of course, also an expected variance in how long each student spends on a class, some might spend more, and others might spend less).

Classroom Environment

To create and preserve a classroom atmosphere that optimizes teaching and learning, all participants share a responsibility in creating a civil and non-disruptive forum for the discussion of ideas. Students are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner that does not disrupt teaching or learning. Your comments to others should be constructive and free from harassing statements. You are encouraged to disagree with other students and the instructor, but such disagreements need to respectful and be based upon facts and documentation (rather than prejudices and personalities). The instructors reserve the right to interrupt conversations that deviate from these expectations. Repeated unprofessional or disrespectful conduct may result in a lower grade or more severe consequences. Part of the learning process in this course is respectful engagement of ideas with others.

Please don’t be late. You are an essential part of the class. Your participation is an essential part of the class. If you are late, please be courteous to others when entering.

Attendance in the class meetings is expected. Sometimes you cannot avoid missing a class. If you need to be away from class, it is your responsibility to catch up on the materials discussed in the class. Please see the course policy on remote attendance

Accommodations for Disabilities

Students who have disabilities who wish to receive academic services and/or accommodations should visit the Disability Resource Center at 20 Dodge Hall or call (617) 373-2675. If you have already done so, please provide your letter from the DRC to the Instructor early in the semester so that they can arrange those accommodations.

Title IX Notice

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects individuals from sex or gender-based discrimination, including discrimination based on gender-identity, in educational programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Northeastern’s Title IX Policy prohibits Prohibited Offenses, which are defined as sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship or domestic violence, and stalking. The Title IX Policy applies to the entire community, including students, faculty and staff of all gender identities.

If you or someone you know has been a survivor of a Prohibited Offense, confidential support and guidance can be found through University Health and Counseling Services staff and the Center for Spiritual Dialogue and Service clergy members. By law, those employees are not required to report allegations of sex or gender-based discrimination to the University.

Alleged violations can be reported non-confidentially to the Title IX Coordinator within The Office for Gender Equity and Compliance at: and/or through NUPD (Emergency 617.373.3333; Non-Emergency 617.373.2121). Reporting Prohibited Offenses to NUPD does NOT commit the victim/affected party to future legal action.

Faculty members are considered “responsible employees” at Northeastern University, meaning they are required to report all allegations of sex or gender-based discrimination to the Title IX Coordinator.

In case of an emergency, please call 911.

Please visit for a complete list of reporting options and resources both on- and off-campus.

© 2022 Jonathan Bell. Released under the CC BY-SA license