Course Policies

by Mike Gleicher on August 26, 2019

Please also see the official syllabus (in AEFIS/Canvas). There is also a Parts of Class page that details what you need to do for each part of the class.

Overall Summary

  • Attendance at required classes is required.
  • There will be two required class meetings per week, usually Monday and Wednesday. In general, Friday classes (when they happen) are optional.
  • If you will miss a class, please let us know.
  • Bring art supplies to class (especially on “In-Class Exercise” days)
  • If something is due on a day, it is due that day (Madison time).
  • Readings are given each week and should be done before lecture.
  • Weekly discussions require an initial posting due Tuesday, and subsequent discussion.
  • Weekly seek-and-find assignments are due on Friday.
  • Quizzes are due on Fridays.
  • Deadlines are generally strict, however we let you drop low scores, so if you miss something occasionally, it should not hurt your grade too much.

The Weekly Rhythm

In the average week (see Parts of Class) …

  • There will be class meetings on Monday and Wednesday. (except for the first week, where class is Wednesday and Friday). The general pattern will be that one day is lecture, the other day will be an “in-class exercise”, Attendance is required. We may change the order (have an ICE on a Monday, or two lectures in a week).
  • There will be a reading assignment. Each assignment should be completed before lecture (Monday), but there is nothing to turn in for readings.
  • There will be an online discussion assignment, generally going along with the readings and class activities. There will always be an initial posting due on Tuesday (the night before Wednesday). There is also a requirement to “discuss” (reply to other people’s postings, participate in discussion, …).
  • There will be a “Seek and Find” assignment where you must find a visualization that fits the prompt and post it online (along with answering a question about it). It is recommended that you look at others’ postings (and comment on them).
  • There will be some aspect of a “Design Challenge” going on. Even though the overall design challenges are multiple weeks long with a “final handin”, there will be near-weekly milestones (generally, due Wednesday).
  • There will be an online “survey” (quiz) to help you assess whether or not you understand the readings and lectures. This is due on Friday.

Class Schedule


  1. Class is 11-12:15 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. However, there will only be 2 required classes per week on average. After the first week, Friday classes (when they happen) are optional, unless specified.
  2. Students are responsible for checking the course web to understand the schedule.
  3. Students are required to bring “art supplies” to class.
  4. Students are required to attend class (see attendance)
  5. Class meets in Room 312 Wendt

The class is officially scheduled for 11-12:15 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The first week of class, there is no class on Monday, the last day of class is Wednesday, December 12.

Note that this is “overscheduled:” the class is scheduled for 3*75 minutes a week, but is only a 3 credit hour class. So, we will meet for (on average) 150 minutes a week (which is what a 3 credit hour class is meant to do).

In most weeks, the required class meetings are Monday and Wednesday, and Fridays are optional. There will be exceptions. For example, the first week, classes start on Wednesday, so we will meet Wednesday and Friday.

Students are responsible for checking the course web to determine the schedule.

You are “required” to bring “art supplies” to class (some paper and some pens/pencils/crayons with different colors). We will ask you to draw things and turn them in to us. You cannot count on us bringing paper for you to draw on, or to provide pens/pencils.

The class has a University scheduled official exam time slot. We will not have a final exam.



  1. Design Challenges will be graded on a letter grade scale.
  2. Online discussions (initial postings), seek and finds, quizzes are graded roughly, and we will allow you to drop the lowest 2.
  3. Quizzes, class participation, and in-class exercises are counted, but not explicitly graded. We will penalize your final grade if you miss too many. We may reward outstanding online participation.

Your grade for the class is a mix of 3 mini-projects and a series of weekly assignments. We may penalize you for not adequately participating in the in-class exercises, attending lectures, or doing the quizzes.

For Lectures and Readings: I have no direct way to measure how well, or even if, you do them. I have in the past found ways to take lecture attendance. If you don’t do the readings and come to lectures (and listen/participate), you won’t learn as much. However, other graded aspects of class will reflect how well you do with these things.

Officially, attendance is required and I reserve the right to penalize someone if I am aware if their attendance is a problem. Historically, there’s an odd paradox: the students who are active in class are the ones that I notice when they are missing. For this reason, I will try to base any determination on objective measures. (see attendance below)

For Design Challenge Assignments: These will be graded with a letter grade.

For online activities (Discussions and seek and finds): We will grade your initial postings. However, it is difficult to grade these assignments precisely. We will grade them loosely (but on the A-F scale). Usually, we will not give As for these: “full credit” is not “excellent”, so we generally give AB/A border grades as the best possible for online postings. To get an A, do well in other parts of class (including online discussions).

For online discussions (discussions and seek and finds): your initial postings are graded, and we will determine an “online participation grade” to adjust the final grade by looking at everything in the end. We realize that not everyone has excellent participation every week (maybe you have things going on, or in a quiet group). But, at the end of the semester, we may reward or penalize people up to a letter grade.

For In Class Exercises and Quizzes: we will generally keep track on whether or not you do things, and reward consistency. We may check some assignments more carefully. We may go back and look at your work at the end of class if you are a borderline case.

Hopefully, your personal standards (and peer pressure since these assignments are shared with your classmates) will lead you to do excellent work. We will reward consistency.

For the final grade: at the end, we’ll make a holistic assessment. Generally, you cannot get an “A” on a discussion or seek and find, but if you consistently get a “full score”, we will reward you.

Late Policy

All due dates are for the date posted. If something is due on Monday, then any time Monday will be OK. 12:01am Tuesday is not Monday. All times are in Madison.

There are hard and soft deadlines. It is important to turn things in when they are due (the soft deadline) – there’s usually a reason why I want you to do it when I ask. The Parts of Class page explains the deadlines for each assignment type, and explains their rationale.

Due dates are “soft:” if you turn things in late, it will be noted as late. Consistency matters: if you usually turn things in on time, but turn an assignment a few hours late, I won’t care. If you turn in all 15 of your discussion assignments after the deadline, that will probably cost you. A big reason for the soft deadline is to get people to turn in their work so that others can look at it and discuss it.

Cutoffs are “hard:” the Canvas turn-in system won’t let you turn things in after a certain date. For assignments (discussions, seek and finds), this is because I don’t want you doing them after the fact: I’d rather you focus on the current topics instead of going back to old stuff. For other assignments, its about grading: I need to get all the assignments so I can get them graded.

Grading Details

A limitation with grading is that I am stuck with Canvas. When I grade, I either need to give letter grade, or I need to use numbers. In the past, I tried using the numbers as codes. But this confuses everyone (partially because canvas converts to percentages). No matter how many times I reminded students that “7 is the best possible grade” they would complain “but what do I need to do to get 100%.”

So, this year, I am trying to do everything in Canvas with percentages. We’ll use the 90%=A, 80%=B, 70%=C, 50%=F, and the half grades (AB=85%). Note that for many things, it may not be possible to get 100%. We might give A+ for great design challenges, but for many things, the best you can do is an A, which is only 90%. For many things, the maximum score might be the A/AB border (since there is no way to truly excel at it).

Be sure to turn in your in class assignments when asked! And make sure your name is on it! And make sure I can read your name! And use the name that matches what is on the roster! (I don’t always learn everyone’s nickname)

Also: you must be present to turn in an in-class experience. Don’t have your friend turn in a piece of paper with your name if you don’t show up. This is academic misconduct, and you will be penalized.



  1. Class attendance is required.
  2. If you are going to miss class, let us know. Letting us know afterwards is better than nothing.
  3. If you do not intend to attend “nearly all” of the classes, please do not take this class.
  4. You cannot make up in-class assignments.
  5. Be aware of the class schedule
  6. Some classes are optional

Class attendance is required. It is my job to make sure that your time in class is well spent and worth it. It is your job to be there. Sometimes the value in a class experience may not be obvious to you. And sometimes, I’ll do something experimental which may fail. If you don’t feel like I am keeping up my side of this deal well enough for you to keep up yours, let me know.

Being present in class means more than just being there physically: it means being there mentally and participating. With devices (phones, laptops, etc.) it is really tempting to read your email, check the news or social media, play a game, or take a nap. It’s tempting to think of class like a cafe – a nice comfy place with a good internet connection. But, remember, that when you do this, not only are you missing out, but you are distracting to others.

So please plan to come to class and really attending class. In some ways its worse to “be there (physically) but not be there (mentally)” than to not be there are all.

If someone’s attendance is perceived to be a problem, we will penalize them.

We understand that it is impossible for everyone to be at every class (even the instructor misses some classes). Things happen – bad and good. You get sick, you need to go to a family reunion in honor of your grandmother’s 100th birthday, you need to go to Stockholm to get a Nobel prize, your alarm clock breaks and you sleep through class…

If you are going to miss class, let us know. If you can’t tell us before, please tell us afterwards. Please send email to both the TA and the instructor. Telling us why you are missing (or missed) class is optional. We will try to keep track of who comes to class, but, admittedly it’s an imperfect process given the size of the class.

Knowing who is (and is not) in class is difficult. There are enough people that it’s hard to remember everyone, and keep track. Ironically, when you notice someone is missing it is often a good sign about the person (the person is enough of a contributor to class that their absence is felt). We’ll do some things to keep track of who is and isn’t in class, including the in-class experiences, but we will generally rely on the honor principle for you to tell us you weren’t there. If we notice that you’re missing and you didn’t tell us, that’s not good.

The range of reasons people have for missing class is broad – and it’s difficult to judge what is “legitimate” or not. We won’t judge your reasons. If at the end of the semester, your attendance is a problem, we may penalize you.

If you know that you will miss a lot of classes, or do not intend to come to class “nearly all of the time”, please do not take the class. This class requires you to show up. If you know that you cannot (for example, if you know you will be traveling extensively to interview), you probably should not take this class.

You cannot “make up” in-class classwork. In general, there is no way to “make up” what happens in class. You cannot make up an in-class experience (since you didn’t experience it!). We will try to make some exceptions at the beginning of the semester when people will miss class because they aren’t sure of their enrollment status. But, if you miss class, you miss what happened. Talk to a classmate to find out what we talked about. You are still responsible for any online assignments either due before or after a class. But you cannot do an in-class experience without actually being there, and doing/having the experiences is what makes this course. We will drop the lowest 2 scores (and give allowances for people who miss the first week).

In-class experiences will give us one tool to gauge who is at class. Do not try to game this. Cheating the system will be penalized. If you miss an experience, you miss the experience.

Please come on time! Because of the way the room is set up, if you come late, you will disrupt your classmates. Please try to be on time.

Be aware of the class schedule. The class is overscheduled: we will generally meet twice a week, but there may be exceptions. We also understand that irregularity of the class schedule can make it difficult for you to plan when you will miss class. We will try to give you sufficient warning on the class schedule. However, if there is an unexpected schedule change, we will be more understanding if people cannot come.

Optional Classes: Some class meetings will be optional. Classes that are optional will be described as such. Coming to an optional class does not make up for missing a required class.