Grade Estimates: How can I tell what my grade is in the class?

I always provide grade estimates in my course on Blackboard. Check out the last two columns in the grade book. These are updated automatically as assignments and exams are completed and scored. This estimate is only based on the portion of the class you have completed. And grades are affected based on how large a weight a particular assignment or exam is. You can always estimate the grade yourself. Let’s say that participation is worth 5% of your grade, HW is 10%, Labs is 15%, Project is 30%, and Exams are 40% (Exam 1 is 10%, Exam 2 is 15%, Exam 3 is 15%). If you add those up, 5+10+15+30+40 = 100, which makes up your total score. Let’s say you have this as your average scores for each category:

Participation: 95%

HWs: 100%

Labs: 90%

Projects: 85%

Exam 1: 91%

Exam 2: 67%

Exam 3: TBD

You can estimate your grade current grade (without the Exam 3):

( (0.05)95 + (0.1)100 + (0.15)90 + (0.30)85 + (0.1)91 + (0.15)67 )/0.85 = 85.76%

Or you can say, what if I got a 80% on the final exam, what would be my final score:

(0.05)95 + (0.1)100 + (0.15)90 + (0.30)85 + (0.1)91 + (0.15)67 + (0.15)80 = 84.9%

This is how I am providing the grade estimates your see on Blackboard too. But you may do this yourself if you are nearing the drop deadline, want to predict what you need to get on an exam, etc.

Clickers: I forgot my clicker/My clicker ran out of batteries during lecture/I missed a clicker/I was late and missed the first 10 minutes of class/I fell asleep and missed all the clickers/etc…Can I still get credit/points for what I missed?

I drop a reasonable amount of clickers to account for a reasonable amount of mistakes or absences (e.g. 3 credit class - 15 clickers are dropped, 1 credit class - 5 clickers are dropped, see syllabus for details). And while I LOVE talking to you, you do not need to tell me about your clicker problems. This will be done automatically. Please do come chat about something more fun though like computer science, coffee, or your more interesting problems.

Late Registration: I registered late because I changed my major/moved from a different country/had a financial hold/changed my mind/etc…Can I still get credit/points for what I missed?

Welcome! So glad to have you. First, please do catch up with all the material and assignments you missed. The class moves fast and jumping in Week 2/3/4 may be a challenge.

My courses have flexible policies for giving credit for student work to account for varying needs of the 300-400 students I have each semester. I cannot coordinate the individual exceptions for each student. Instead, I drop a reasonable number of HW, Lab, and Projects to account for these types of situations (see syllabus for details). Think about all the reasons students miss assignments: sickness, taking mental health days, working up against a deadline at work, taking care of a sick child/friend/parent, family emergencies, medical emergencies, military obligations, sports and club involvement, going to a conference, missing the deadline, not following submission instructions, etc. My flexible policies allow for all students to be offered the same set of “excused misses” instead of me determining what is justified and what is not.

Of course, if there was something completely outside your control that made it so it was not possible for you to do the assignments you missed, please do come talk to me. However, I am excellent problem solver and I can’t think of a situation where late registration prohibited you from keeping up with the start of class. :) You don’t need to register officially to access anything in this class, just email me and I can send you a link to our public website which gets you started. Not starting a class on time receives the same penalty as being sick, sleeping in, submitting incorrectly, etc.

Late Submission: I turned in my lab/project/HW, but it was a little late…Can I still get credit/points?

No. Please see the syllabus for the late policies for each assignment type. I have never given an exception to late a policy for it just being “a little late”. Deadlines are literally the only reason why anybody does anything on earth. Embrace the deadline. If you want credit, turn your work in before the deadline. If you missed a lab or assignment for almost any reason, there will be no exceptions granted other than what the policy states in the syllabus. See Late Registration FAQ above for more thoughts on this. Again, if something happens that is completely outside of your control, please do come talk to me or email me.

Academic Misconduct: My friend or classmate took a photo of my computer without my permission and that is why our code is the same. I am not guilty, can you please not report me?

No. Even when the other person admits to it, the answer is still no. If you leave your computer unattended or let your code be in a situation where it is possible for someone to take it from you without your permission, you will be reported to the Dean of Students just like the rest of the students with matching codes.  If you are truly not guilty, you can reject the claim and go to trial.  During the hearing, you can explain what happened and five UIC faculty/staff will determine whether or not you will be found guilty.  If you don’t want to be accused of academic misconduct, work independently and protect your work.  If someone gets your work, it is your fault for not protecting it and you will be processed in the same way.

Academic Misconduct: I forgot to cite my partner’s name on my code and now I am being accused of academic misconduct. Can you please not report me?

No. First, if you have being reported for academic misconduct, your code similarity is likely beyond what is acceptable with or without a partner. Working with a partner does not mean sharing code, most cases reported to the DOS are evidence that code was shared, which is never allowed (partner or not). Second, don’t forget to cite your partner. How else would we know?

Title/Name: Can I call you Mrs. Reckinger/Miss Reckinger/Ms. Reckinger/Professor Reckinger/Dr. Reckinger/Shanon?

In high school and in some cultures/communities, it is considered polite to use titles like Mr., Ms., and Mrs. In college and in the professional world, you should default to the person’s professional title until you know the person well enough to have learned what they prefer to be called. If you are addressing any professor, “Professor Reckinger” is always a solid choice. If you have looked at their credentials and they have earned a PhD or medical degree, you can address them “Dr. Reckinger“.

Personally, I prefer to be addressed by my first name, “Shanon”. Also, personally, I really do not like to be addressed as “Mrs. Reckinger/Miss Reckinger/Ms. Reckinger”. If you’d like to use a more formal title, please use my professional title “Professor Reckinger/Dr. Reckinger”.

WARNING: Please do not address other professors by their first name unless they have told you to. Some professors find this very offensive. Lastly, some other professors/staff/professionals might also find it unprofessional if you refer to me as “Shanon” when talking to them, so use outside the classroom at your own risk. Fun. This is fun!

How to write a professional email

I love getting emails from my students. But I have noticed that many students have not been trained in how to properly write an email. I am not sure if it is due to the increase in texting but I thought I would give you some tips to help you improve your professionalism as you move through your academic career. Please follow these steps to write a super email each time:

  1. Address the recipient using their professional title or the name they have already given you permission to use. See FAQ above for more about Titles/Names. Do not write an email without the salutation/name at the top (e.g. “Hello Dr. Reckinger,” or “Dr. Reckinger,”).

  2. State the course you are in (use the course code, like CS 109, not the CRN number) and the section, if necessary. While it is nice to include a sentence that indicates you know that you are speaking to human (e.g. “Hope you are doing well”, “Great lecture today”, “Wow, I am having a great time in class”, etc.), it is not necessary and it not considered rude to get right to business (i.e. ok to skip right to Step 3).

  3. Explain the purpose of your email in a few, concise sentences. Read those sentences a few times to make sure there are no typos and that it makes sense. Writing takes more time than a verbal conversation.

  4. Conclude with what action you are requesting from the recipient. Do you have a question? Are you requesting something? Be specific and pointed about what you want from the recipient of the email. This is the most important part of the email. Do not write emails that are simply a series of thoughts which require the recipient to interpret what is needed. Your email should ALWAYS have a question/request.

  5. Sign the email with you full name. Use your official UIC email address so the recipient has access to your netid.

Interesting Articles about Learning

Drawing can help you remember: https://static.nytimes.com/email-content/SL_9178.html?nlid=89609655

Using a laptop during lecture may result in retaining less information than those you don’t: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/business/laptops-not-during-lecture-or-meeting.html

Recommended podcast episodes:  

TED Radio Hour “Nudge”

Planet Money “When Women Stopped Coding”

Freakonomics “Who needs handwriting?”

NPR One “Physicists Seek to Lose The Lecture As a Teaching Tool”