Point Distribution

The value of your final exam will be reduced by taking tests and doing homework.  There will be three mid-term tests, worth ~15% each.  Because of the number of students in the class, the tests will be primarily multiple choice, true/false, and things that can be graded by computer.  During the tests, you are allowed to use a calculator.  There will typically be at least one problem requiring a calculator.  Cell phone calculators are not allowed.  There will be no make-up tests!  Not for any reason.  If you miss a test, that just means your final exam will be worth a greater percentage of your grade.  The higher your score on the tests, the less your final exam will be worth.  (However, it will never be worth zero points.)

Homework - 15-30%

Homework problems will assigned via Mastering Astronomy.  Some homework questions will also be re-visited via PRS in-class quizes (that will be very easy if you have done the homework).  The first 10 points (about half the assignments) will go directly towards your grade.  Any points over and above that will go towards reduceing the value of your final exam.  In other words, if you successfully complete 75% of all homework assigned, then you will get all 10 HW points, and your final will be worth a maximum of 50% instead of 55% of your grade.

I sometimes may ask for assignments to be handed in (on paper even!).  You must obey the following guidelines on all assignments, or potentially lose points.  These guidelines also apply to lab assignments:

So... as you may (or may not) be able to see, if you score perfectly on tests and homework, your final will be worth only 5% of your grade.  That fraction can be reduced even further by class participation or doing "extra" labs.

Class Participation, Quizzes, and Instructor TBD 10-20%

There will be regular questions for you to answer using the iclicker remotes.  Most of these will be for discussion only (e.g. Do you think there is intelligent life out there?), but some will be to test your knowledge (e.g. How long does light take to get to the Earth from the Sun?)  The knowledge questions will typically be over the assigned reading for the day, but may sometimes cover concepts from the lecture.  Part of the purpose of these quizzes will be to verify that you are showing up to the lectures.  The secondary purpose will be to see if you have done the reading.  My plan for the grades is to split the percentage equally between participation and knowledge.  Since I know that everyone won't make it to every class, I will give everyone several "free passes" on the clicker attendance portion of the grade.  If you answer fewer than 50% of the clicker questions, you will not receive any participation points.  Special arrangements can be made for certain school-related function absences.  No special arrangements will be made for powder days.

The Curve

I would like to make my tests hard enough to challenge the best students.  Sometimes I will curve the test grades.  All curves will be up, but not down.  I will think about assigning final grades on a curve, but this is less likely.   If everyone scores greater than 90%, then everyone will get an "A."

Final Note - disclaimer

The instructor reserves the right to change the class schedule, policies, and grade distributions, either for individual cases, or the class as a whole, if it is determined to be appropriate for the students, the professor, or both.  See: Additional information