Department Course Policies

Excused Absences Policy

Version 1.4, 2011-08-09

Missed Deadlines and Absence from Exams

In general, no make-ups, alternatives or supplementals will be given for missed course components. A missed course component gets a mark of zero.

How To Avoid Problems

If you expect major unavoidable conflicts with term or final exams, you should discuss these with your professor at the beginning of term. If you are having difficulty meeting a due date, you should talk to your professor before the assignment is due. As a general rule, the sooner you warn your professor that you are having a problem the better the outcome.

What If I Miss a Final Exam?

The rules for final exams are different than for exams held during the term. An excused absence for a missed final exam is granted at the discretion of your Faculty. The difference for final exams is important. You must apply within two working days to your own Faculty for a deferred final exam. It is important that you understand the rules and procedures for your particular Faculty.

If a student misses a final exam, there is the possibility of writing a deferred final exam. If there are any deferred exams for a course they will all take place on a date posted in the course outline.

Students must present documentation and apply to their own Faculty for a deferred exam within two working days of the missed exam. Important Note: students should not contact their instructor or the Department of Computing Science for a deferred exam. They must contact their own Faculty.

See the University Calendar regulations on Absence from Final Exams. Deferred examinations are not permitted in graduate courses.

What If I Miss a Term Exam?

As a general rule, no make-ups, alternatives or supplementals need to be given for missed term exams. A missed term exam gets a mark of zero. You may apply to your professor within two working days of the exam date excused absence if you feel you had sufficient grounds to prevent you from writing the exam. If the excused absence is granted, the weight of a term exam will normally be added to the final exam weight. A decision by an professor not to give an excused absence from a term exam cannot be appealed.

What If I Miss the Due Date for an Assignment?

As a general rule, missed assignments get a mark of zero. Late assignments may be be accepted, but penalized. You may apply to your professor within 2 working days of the due date of an assignment if you feel you had sufficient grounds to prevent you delivering the assignment on time.

What Documentation Do I Need?

Medical or bereavement documentation are regarded as advice to the professor, not as strict requirements for excused absences from work. You should present your request for an excused absence from a midterm within 48 hours of the missed test. The professor will decide whether to grant the excused absence and shift the weight elsewhere, or assign a zero mark for the missed work.

Re-evaluation Policy

Any questions or concerns about marks on a particular assignment must be brought to the attention of the instructor or TA within 10 days of its return date. After that, we will not consider remarking or re-evaluating the work. So do not expect anyone to re-evaluate all of the work you did all term long in the hopes of getting a higher final grade.

However, clerical errors such as incorrectly computing or recording a mark may be raised at any time prior to 2 working days following the final exam.  It is the student's responsibility to confirm that their term work has been recorded properly.

Grading System

The University of Alberta overall policies on Assessment and Grading can be found on UAPPOL.

Your final grade in a course will be based on the instructor's interpretation of the grading system as defined in the University Calendar's Academic Regulations. Instructors do not necessarily use a pre-defined function of your final mark to compute your final grade.  We always use our judgement of how the class final marks reflect mastery of the course material. We believe that this produces a fair and consistent evaluation of students, and our extensive past experience supports this.

There need not be a direct linear numerical correspondence between the percentage marks you obtain during assessment, and the final grade in the course.  The marks on the various components are just measures that contribute to the final judgement by the professor, and that is why a simple "average mark" does not fully reflect how much material a student has mastered.

Here is roughly how we interpret the descriptors associated with the letter grades for undergraduate students.  The interpretation is also affected by the level of the course.  An introductory course has a different notion of original thinking than does a senior level advanced topics course.

Letter Descriptor Interpretation
A+
A
A-
Excellent Consistently original thinking that extends the material, demonstrated depth and breadth in the material, ability to integrate material with other subjects, ability to analyse and synthesize material at various levels of abstraction.
B+
B
B-
Good Like an A, but not consistent over time, or weak in a specific area.
C+
C
C-
Satisfactory Understand the core material but not its subtleties, can apply it to simple situations on own and to more complex situations with hints, evidence that the material has changed the way of thinking.
D+ Poor Understand some of the core material but not its subtleties, can apply it to simple situations but often needs assistance, evidence that the material has had some change on the way of thinking.
D Minimal Pass Shows some understanding of parts of the material, cannot apply it without some direction, little evidence that the material has changed the way of thinking.
F Failure Little evidence of understanding of even the surface issues, poor analysis and synthesis, inability to apply the material.

Here is the conversion table we use at the U of A for computing your GPA: 

Numeric Equivalents
Letter A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
GPV 4.0 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0.0

Academic Integrity, Plagiarism and Cheating

Students may only submit work authored by themselves, or with approved co-authors. Work submitted by a student that is the work of someone else (e.g. another student or a tutor) either in part or in entirety is considered plagiarism. This even applies to work that previously submitted for another course.

Please review the Don't Cheat Sheet (PDF) for more information.

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University. (GFC 29 SEP 2003)

Cases of plagiarism and other forms of cheating are immediately referred to the Dean of Science, who determines what course of action is appropriate. We do not hesitate to send ALL cases of cheating to the Dean's office. Please do not put yourself or us into such an unpleasant situation. Please read the Code of Student Behaviour carefully.

Collaboration Policy

Version 1.7, 2012-08-01

This policy outlines the various kinds of collaboration that you are permitted when working on the assignments for a course.

Collaboration on assignments is encouraged. Recent studies show that pair-programming is a very effective way for students to master computing science concepts. But when collaborating, you must always properly acknowledge the sources you used and people you worked with. This is the most effective way to avoid plagiarism.

The rules for working with other students vary between courses and assignments within each course. So that you know what rules to follow, each deliverable (assignment, paper, program, presentation, etc.) in the course should be identified as having one of the following choices of collaboration model:

  • Solo Effort - you are not to talk to anyone else. All sources you used must be cited.
  • Consultation - you can talk to anyone else, but you must write up the solution on your own, and acknowledge who you talked to. All sources used must be cited. Details may vary from course to course, so it is important to understand what kind of consultation is allowed.  See the next section for an example.
  • Full Collaboration - you can work with other students as permitted, you must identify your partners, and all sources used must be cited. Depending on the nature of the deliverable, the students you are permitted to work with may be restricted to those in your lab, or your lecture section. Also, depending on how your lectures and labs are organized for marking, you may be permitted to submit only one copy of the deliverable.
  • Teamwork - you are working in a team, the particular rules for the team depend on the nature of the course. Teams generally persist for the duration of the course, and will have one or more self-assessments in addition to deliverables. Any specific further details on the collaboration will be provided in the description of the deliverable.

Regardless of the collaboration method allowed, you must always properly acknowledge the sources you used and people you worked with.  Your professors reserve the right to give you an exam (oral, written, or both) to determine the degree that you participated in the making of the deliverable, and how well you understand what was submitted. For example, you may be asked to explain any code that was submitted and why you choose to write it that way. This may impact the mark that you receive for the deliverable.

Note that this potential additional questioning about your deliverable is part of the assessment process, both summative (for marks) and formative (for feedback to you and us). It is intended to give us additional information about what you have learned.  So, whenever you submit a deliverable, especially if you collaborate, you should be prepared for an individual  inspection/walkthrough in which you explain what every line of your code, assignment, design, documentation etc. does and why you choose to write it that way.

Example of Consultation Collaboration in a Programming Course (CMPUT 201)

This course uses a Consultation Collaboration model as follows:

  1. You can freely discuss the concepts and solutions with your 201 classmates.
  2. Limit discussions among students to an informal verbal level. We do NOT allow exchanging any written text, code, or giving detailed step by step verbal advice.
  3. Limit discussion to be among students taking the current 201 course, not students who took 201 in earlier terms or other students. Collaboration is a two-way process that benefits both sides.
  4. Individually develop your own solution for assignments and exercises. Submit only your own work for evaluation.
  5. Do not give other students access to your solutions and do not seek access to other's solutions. This is considered plagiarism.
  6. All sources of information used, e.g., books, websites, students you talked to etc., must be cited in your README file for each assignment. If student A cites student B, then B should also cite A as collaborator.
  7. Study the Computing Science policy regarding Academic Integrity, Collaboration Policy and Plagiarism and make sure that you are familiar with the definition of plagiarism and cheating in the Code of Student Behaviour.
  8. We will use powerful automated tools such as MOSS to compare submitted work from current as well as previous courses and flag potential cases of plagiarism.
  9. All suspected cases of plagiarism will be forwarded to the Dean's office and thoroughly investigated. Receiving a low mark for work not completed is a far superior alternative to this process and its possible long-term consequences to your career.

Recording of Lectures

Recording is permitted only with the prior written consent of the professor or if recording is part of an approved accommodation plan.

Communications Policies

Forums, Discussion and Chat

  • Do not post program code (e.g. Java, C code) unless permitted by the course.
  • Be courteous to course staff and students. Personal insults are not acceptable.
  • Discuss course-related items only.
  • Responses may not be immediate.

Email

  • Use your Campus Computing ID (CCID).
  • Your subject line should always begin with your course and lecture and/or lab section, for example:
    Subject: CMPUT 174 A1 - help, where is the code for assignment 1?
  • Identify yourself using your full name.
  • Be precise, and attach all code if relevant (especially for lab questions).
  • Be aware of the University Electronic Communication Policy.

Not following these guidelines risks having your mail lost or ignored.

Students Registered with Specialized Support and Disability Services

If you are registered with Student Accessibility Services and will be using accommodations in the classroom or the lab, or will be writing exams through SAS, you are required to provide a "Letter of Introduction" to your instructor and to your lab coordinator as soon as possible. If you need accommodated exams, you must provide your instructor and lab coordinator with an "Exam Instructions & Authorization" (orange) form one week before each exam. You are encouraged to make an appointment with your instructor and lab coordinator to discuss any required accommodations.

For students who write exams with accommodations at SAS, please be cognizant of their deadlines and regulations. If you fail to meet these deadlines or follow the procedures, the result is most likely that SAS will be unable to provide the necessary space and/or services you require. In these situations, the Department of Computing Science does not have the resources to provide disability-related exam accommodations, and you will be invited to write your exams with peers during the allotted time in the assigned room.

Conditions of Use and Lab Policies

See the Undergraduate Conditions of Use and Lab Policies for information about undergraduate labs.