Exams (policy)

Page content
  1. There will be 3 exams, given online. Two will be given on Wednesday evenings during the semester, one will be given in the official University Final Examination time slot.
  2. Each exam will be administered using Canvas Quizzing.
  3. Each exam will consist of 3 short segments. You must complete all 3 segments within the exam time window.

This class will have 3 exams, all weighted equally.

  • The exams will be “semi-synchronous” you may take the exam within the time slot, with flexibility of how you use your time within the slot.
  • Each exam will consist of 3 short (20 minute) timed segments. Once you start a segment, you have 20 minutes to finish it. However, you can choose when to start it. So, for example, you could take them back to back (and finish in an hour) or you can take breaks between the pieces. You can start at the beginning of the window (and be done early), or start later (give yourself enough time to finish).
  • You may not collaborate with others. You should not talk about the exam or its topics during the exam window. While it is OK to read about graphics topics (you can consult resources during the exam), you may not write about them (e.g., post a question to an online forum).
  • You may not communicate with other students in class during the exam window (even when you are not taking the exam).
  • The exam is “open book” - we do not limit your access to resources during the exam (except that you cannot communicate with others).

The dates of the exams are:

  • Exam 1: Wednesday, March 9th, 1 hour within 5:45-9:00pm
  • Exam 2: Wednesday, April 27th, 1 hour within 5:45-9:00pm
  • Exam 3: Wednesday, May 11th, 1 hour within 7:25-9:25pm (official assigned Final Exam slot, may be changed by the Registrar)

The first exam will cover the topics from the first 6 weeks of class (up to, and including curves, but not 3D). The second exam covers the material after curves, up to (and including) shaders. However, the material is cumulative (the concepts we learn about in 2D are built upon in 3D). The final exam is cumulative, with a slight emphasis for the material at the end of the class (after shaders).

The Evening Exam Time Slot

Two exams will be given on Wednesday evenings. We may not be able to make arrangements if these times do not work for you.

Officially, the University has evening exam time slots 5:45 to 7:15 and 7:30 to 9:00. So officially, the exam must be in one of those time slots. I will give students the choice: a student has the option to select either one. In fact, you can choose both - and use the entire window if you like.

Remember, the window is the time you can take the exam segments. You can only spend 60 minutes (20 minutes per segment) working on the exam. You can start at 5:45 and be done by 6:45. You can start at 7:45 and work to 8:45. In practice, you should give yourself time between segments (if nothing else, to move between segments, but taking a break can be good). Of course, you don’t need to take all 20 minutes per segment. If you want, you could start the exam at 8:30 and race through it in 15 minutes - I doubt you can get a good grade doing this, but, in theory…

You cannot work beyond the end of the time window.

Exam Philosophy And Rationale

Giving exams is one of the most challenging aspects of adapting this class to remote instruction. Giving online exams is hard period (for a number of reasons). I’ve learned a lot from past experience.

I do not intend to use a proctoring service. However, I reserve the right to use one if academic integrity is a problem in the class. I find these services kindof invasive and problematic and hope I do not need to resort to using one.

Part (and only part) of the problem is academic integrity. Normally, I trust students: if you want to cheat, it is your loss. But cheating hurts those who are honest. This New York Times op-ed really resonated with me: “If my classmates are going to cheat on an online exam, why can’t I?”. The responsibility for a fair exam is on both of us (student and professor): you (students) should act ethically, but I should create an environment that encourages good behavior.

Therefore, rather than using a proctoring service, I will try to use exam design principles to discourage cheating. Not because I don’t trust you - but because I want you not to feel like everyone else is cheating.

The ideas:

  • More frequent, smaller exams (3 small ones instead of 2 big ones).
  • The exams will be “open book” - it’s up to me to develop questions that you cannot efficiently find the (correct) answer to by searching. There’s just no way to give a closed-book exam remotely that isn’t obtrusive. And there is no practical way for me to limit what resources you have access to.
  • Time pressured - this is the other part of open book, otherwise you could research the answer or write a program to solve the problem.
  • Randomized/personalized - expect that you will get different questions than your friends.
  • Administered by Canvas Quizzes. You’ll take the exam right in Canvas. This means I am limited in the kinds of questions I can asked.
  • Semi-Synchronous. We need everyone to take things at the same time (so a student can’t finish and reveal information about the exam). However, we want to give students the flexibility in when they take the exam. We want to limit the amount of time that we have to cut off communication.
  • You must be able to finish the exam in the class period.

Some specifics:

  • The exams are given outside of lecture times. I don’t want to give up lectures in the middle of the semester.
  • The exams are given in weeks where there aren’t workbooks due. This actually limits the number of exams we can have.
  • The exam windows are fixed. We want to be able to answer questions about the exam before it starts and after it ends.

The Key Rules

  1. You must not communicate with other students in class during the exam window (even when you are not taking the exam).

  2. You must not discuss the exam with anyone (except course staff) during the exam window. This includes any form of writing (posting, replying, messaging, etc.) to any forums (Piazza, Stack Exchange, Discord, etc.). You may send a private message to the course staff during the exam if there is a problem. Please include your email address, as we may prefer to follow up that way.

  3. You must avoid listening/reading to people violating the rules; e.g., if someone other than course staff makes a posting or message during the exam period, you should not read it.

  4. The exam is “open book” - we will not try to prevent you from reading (or viewing) existing materials. The exam timing will limit your ability to do research on the answers to the questions. Remember, that writing (asking a question, or posting an answer) is not allowed during the exam window. And, reading something illegal is academic misconduct.

  5. You may use a “calculator”, which includes writing programs. But, be careful of the time it takes. The questions are designed that you should be able to figure them out “by hand” (with pencil and paper) more quickly than trying to program.

  6. We must be strict about the start/stop time of the exam window because students in class are allowed to discuss the exam and class material outside of the window.

  7. The rules of proper academic conduct apply. See the course page on Collaboration Policy and Academic Conduct for more details.

In case of technical difficulties

Inevitably something will go wrong for someone.

If you have a problem:

  1. If you have a technical issue during the exam, try to complete the quiz you are taking as best you can. You may want to take a screen shot of the problem. You may want to save your work (e.g., a screenshot or print-to-PDF) if you fear Canvas might mess up

  2. After completing the current Quiz, send a private message to the course staff on Piazza explaining the problem. If you have an internet failure that precludes accessing Piazza, you can send email to the Professor. If you can’t even send email, send a message as soon as your internet access is restored.

  3. Please alert us to technical problems as promptly as possible.

  4. We will not answer content questions during the exam. If you feel a question has an error or is ambiguous, take your best guess at what the question means. The questions usually ask for the “most correct” answer (in cases where you feel no answer is exactly correct).

  5. Please check Piazza and Canvas for announcements before beginning each Quiz.

  6. Canvas may allow you to take the quizzes in the wrong order. In the event you start taking the wrong quiz, complete the one you have started. Then complete the remaining quizzes in the correct order.

Technical problems do happen. During the Spring 2020 559 Final, the internet went out in my neighborhood! I had to proctor it by phone (fortunately, the peer mentors and TAs were in a different neighborhood).

Accomodations for McBurney Students

All McBurney accomodations must be arranged 2 weeks before the exam.

If have already arranged for additional time, we will try to convince Canvas to give it to you. You must still complete the quizzes within the exam window, but you be given longer to take each segment. This means that in order to take all of your additional time, you must start the exam relatively promptly at the beginning of the window.

Because of limitations of Canvas, portions of the quiz may not be compatible with screen readers or other assistive technologies. If you are visually impaired and rely on screen reading technology for viewing the web, please contact the course staff before the exam.