Physics 121, Fall 2010
Prof. E. F. Redish
Grades in this class arise NOT solely from your performance on exams but from
a mix of many different ways to judge your work. Be sure you understand the
components so you don't get a nasty surprise at the end of the term!
The result is a grade
that is a more accurate representation of your performance in the class. It
also means that you can blow one midterm exam and still get an A if your work
in other categories is first rate! Here is the breakdown.
- Components --
|Hour exams (100 pts
|Quizzes (may be less)
|Final exam (200 pts)
|Homework (scaled to)
|Lab (scaled to)||200|
These divisions are not guaranteed. We adjust as the term goes on depending
on circumstances -- snow, tornadoes, etc.
- How grades are
assigned -- I assign a grade level for each
category (e.g., how many points you need to get to get an A on the quizzes,
what you need to get an A on the HW, etc.) and then add them up to
get a grade level for what is need for each final grade.
- Curving: Labs
and HW yes, exams and quizzes no -- For exams,
I do NOT grade on a curve. I have an absolute expectation.
On most exams, 75% will be an A, 65% a B. (Please don't try to convert this
to the (also arbitrary) 70%/80%/90% scale used in some other classes.
This will confuse both you and me.) This
means that someone else's doing well on an exam will never negatively
affect your grade. If you all do well on an exam I will give you all
A's for that exam.
Homework and lab grades depend significantly on how the TAs grade. Although
I give them instructions, they are not always consistent. After all the
HW and lab grades are in I will adjust the grades if a TA's pattern is
off by more than a few percent from the average. HW and lab grades will
be curved so that about the top 25% get an A and 40% more get a B in
HW and lab.
- Overall grades --
From past experience with 121, I expect that an A will require about (85± 3)%,
a B will require about (75 ± 3)%
and a C will require about (65 ± 3)% of the total points in the class. Passing
(not getting an F) will requie about (50 ± 3)%. The "±" reflects
my best guess. This means the odds are 2:1 that the boundary between an A
and a B will be somewhere between 82% and 88%. It is not a guarantee. These
grades reflect that the averages on the homework and labs tend to be higher
than on the exams.
- The escape clause --
There is an "escape clause" for final
grades: If you are below the total needed for a grade but are within 25 points
and you are in the next grade up in both homework and the final,
I will give you the next grade up (with a minus). This gives these two activities
a slightly more important role in the class than the rest and reflects my
perception that homework is the most important part of the class and the
final gives an overall summary of how well you have done overall. If
you are within 25 points of the next grade up but don't have that grade in
both the homework and final I will add a plus to your grade. [Note that this
means that someone with fewer total points might get an A- will someone with
a few more total points could get a B+. Please do not bother to complain
|University of Maryland
||Physics 121 Home
This page prepared by
Edward F. Redish
Department of Physics
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: (301) 405-6120
Last revision 28 August,