Grading and Academic Policies

Your total course grade will consist of 5 parts

5% Class Participation

      My lectures will be as interactive as I can reasonably make them. I strongly believe that the best learning happens when you feel an active part of the class and are not merely sitting passively by listening and taking notes. We will spend a lot of time together during the 6 short weeks of this session and I hope to get to know each of you fairly well. I will attempt to actively involve each of you in the class. Your participation in class will therefore be worth a non-insubstantial percentage of your total grade.

25% Homework Sets

      There will be 4 weekly homework sets (plus a 5th optional one that will not be graded). They will be due at the beginning (not the middle or the end) of class on Wednesdays. Solutions will be posted here on the web site later that day. No late homeworks will be accepted for any reason. If you have a really, really, really good reason for not turning in a homework on time I might be persuaded to pro-rate the missed homework.

25% Class Projects

      You will be required to do 6 projects over the course of the 6 weeks. These projects range from simple labs and sky observations, to writing reviews of science fiction movies, to reading and reporting on popular news media stories about astronomy. You may choose any six that you like (picking two from three different areas) so long as the total points they are worth add up to 100. They will be due in two week intervals (see the Class Projects page for details). These are meant to be fun. Don't stress over them. Enjoy watching the cheesy movies and nitpicking all the bad science in them. Enjoy getting outside to observe the beautiful sky. Do take them seriously and don't procrastinate on them, but have some fun with them. I guarantee you will learn something along the way.

20% Midterm Exam

      There will be one midterm exam. It will take place on Monday June 12th in the lecture (10:00AM-12:00PM, 3 LeConte Hall). It will cover all the material through Lecture 11. It will consist of multiple choice questions as well as some short essays and problems. If you have a conflict with this time see me right away.

25% Final Exam

      The final exam will take place in class on the last day of classes (Thursday June 29th, 10PM-12PM, 3 LeConte Hall). It will be comprehensive and again consist of multiple choice, short essays and problems.

Grading Scheme

      The grading scheme will be on an absolute sliding scale that follows the break-down in the table below. 100% percent will be in most cases 100% of the points possible on a given assignment or exam. Should the class as a whole do particularly poorly on an assignment or exam, and I am convinced that everyone gave their best efforts on it, I will examine the grade distribution and set 100% at a reasonable value.

      The grader and I take grading seriously and are very careful. If, however, you believe that there has been an error in the grading of your work I ask that you follow these guidelines.

  1. Be sure to read the solutions thoroughly before coming to me with your claim.
  2. Tally up the total amount of points you believe you have been wrongly denied. Calculate what percentage of your final grade this amounts to. If it is less than 0.5% of your total grade please do not waste yours and my time.
  3. Write up a full English-language paragraph for every error in an assignment that you believe has been made.
  4. Resubmit your work with the paragraph(s) directly to me. It will then be completely re-graded.

If you are taking the class pass/not pass be aware that you must earn a grade of at least a C- (70%) in order to pass the class.

Percentage (%) Letter Grade Grade Point
95-100 A 4.0
90-94 A- 3.7
86-89 B+ 3.3
83-85 B 3.0
80-82 B- 2.7
77-79 C+ 2.3
74-76 C 2.0
70-73 C- 1.7
67-69 D+ 1.3
64-66 D 1.0
60-63 D- 0.7
< 60 F 0.0

Academic Conduct

      Science does not happen in a vacuum and neither does learning. As such, you are encouraged to work together on your homework sets and labs. You should get together with each other and study as well. But you also must turn in your own write-up of the work in your own words. The grader and I will be on the lookout for homeworks that seem to be mere carbon copies of each-other or that look as if one person has busily copied another's work. This is dishonest and will be dealt with most severely. Cheating of any kind will be not be tolerated. I don't want to have to make a big issue of this, so don't force me to.

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