ICS 33 / CSE 43: Intermediate Programming
Summer 2013
Course Reference


Instructor information

Contacting me: I tend to be much easier to reach via email than any other way, so I would suggest using email to contact me under normal circumstances. When you write me an email, please take a few moments to make sure that the following information is placed somewhere in your message: your name, your student ID#, and which course you're enrolled in .


Course staff

In addition to me, this course is staffed by a teaching assistant, David Carrillo (carrild1@uci.edu), who will be attending lab sections, assisting with grading, and will provide an additional resource you can turn to when you need help with course material.


Times and places

Lecture

A lecture meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00-6:20pm in PSCB 120. Given the course's size, attendance is not graded, but we certainly recommend it. (Naturally, attendance is required on the days when exams are held, which are listed in the Schedule.)

Labs (The ICS 33 Help Center)

There are two lab sections, meeting in the afternoons preceding lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. Collectively, we will refer to all of these hours as the ICS 33 Help Center, which meet at the following locations and times:

While you are required to be enrolled in a lab section — and this enrollment does determine who will grade your projects — you are generally free to attend the ICS 32 Help Center whenever you need it, regardless of which lab section you are enrolled in, with one caveats: you will be guaranteed a seat in your enrolled lab section — and, hence, it is possible that you may occasionally be asked to leave to make room for someone else if we are full beyond capacity and you are not officially enrolled in a section.

While it is not a required part of the course, and nothing will be graded in the labs this quarter, attendance does offer some significant benefits:

Office hours

I will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30-9:15pm in PSCB 120 — not my office, as it's in a building that will be locked during at least part of that time — during which I'm available to chat with you about whatever's on your mind.


Textbooks

This course has no official textbook and I will not be assigning readings. I will provide some written material on this course web site that will mirror and augment techniques we learn in lecture, and much of what you learn will be through writing programs in Python.

If you took ICS 31 and 32, you might also find your textbook(s) from those courses to be valuable resources that you can refer back to, but they are not required and I won't be assigning reading from them.


Obtaining additional assistance

Asking questions of course staff

You can most easily get course questions answered by coming to the lecture, the ICS 33 Help Center, or office hours and asking them. I am happy to help you in person when I'm available. You can also ask questions by sending email to me or your TA (or both); we check our email frequently throughout the day, so you can usually get an answer to course-related questions within a few hours (and often much more quickly). If the questions require a complex or lengthy response, we may ask you to see one of us in person. As projects approach their due date, particularly on days when projects are due, we begin to receive quite a bit of email all at once, so we may not be able to respond to all messages before the project is due. We aren't ignoring you on purpose, but unfortunately it's not always possible for the relatively small course staff to answer questions from a large number of students at once.

Accommodations for disabilities

Any students who feel that they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss these specific needs. Also, contact the Disability Services Center online or by phone at (949) 824-7494 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations, such as alternative test-taking environments or note-taking services, can be arranged for you in a timely way.


Grading

Weights of graded artifacts

Your course grade will be determined from the weighted combination of your scores on each of six programming projects, one Midterm, and one Final Exam. The weights of each of these are:

Determining final grades

Course grades will be determined neither on a normal curve nor a straight scale. It is guaranteed that overall scores over 90% will receive an A- or better, scores over 80% will receive a B- or better, and scores over 70% will receive a C or better. However, the actual cutoffs may be lowered at the end of the quarter. In short, it is not my intention to fail half of the students, nor am I planning on giving only 2% of the students A's, but I prefer not to constrain myself with either a straight scale or a formalized curve.

If you're curious about how you're doing in the course, I'm happy to discuss your estimated grade at any time. It's generally best to have this conversation in person, so that we can explore issues other than just the raw numbers; I'm happy to have this conversation at any time that I'm available, and I'm also glad to do it via email if we can't find a mutually available time.


Dropping the course or changing grade option

During Summer Session, you may drop the course or change grade option until the end of Week 8 (Friday, August 16), though refunds of course fees are not issued if you drop after the end of Week 4 (Friday, July 19). You will generally need to get a signature from me to drop the course; I should point out here that I'm generally not able to be on campus on Fridays, so the last day I'll be able to sign required forms for this course is Thursday, August 15 (or Thursday, July 18 to be eligible for any kind of refund).


Academic honesty

The policy

As ICS 33 or CSE 43 students, you are expected to know and follow the academic honesty policies of both the Bren School of ICS and the University as a whole. Please take a few minutes to read the policies, which can be found at this link.

All of your project work is expected to be completed solely by you. Worker in larger groups and/or sharing of code between students that are not partners is not permitted. Note that "high-level discussion of course material for better understanding" is permitted and encouraged, but when it comes time to sit down and write code, that is expected to be done by you and you alone. All submissions are compared to one another using an automated plagiarism detection system. This system is extraordinarily good at finding similarities between submissions, even when there are superficial differences. (Note that we also compare your submissions to those submitted during previous quarters whenever one of these assignments was given during a previous quarter, so it is an exceedingly bad idea to turn in, or even refer to, code written by a friend of yours who took the course already.)

Since all of your work is expected to be completed solely by you, you will be held responsible even if you plagiarize only a small portion of someone else's work.

Academic honesty is a two-way street. Providing your code to other students for them to turn in as their own is not permitted any more than turning in someone else's code. Resist the temptation to give code to your friends "for reference." Based on my experience, I can say that your "friends" may very well betray you and turn it in, anyway, and then you'll have a lot to answer for; many academic dishonesty cases have their roots in this kind of betrayal.

Naturally, the Midterm and Final Exam are also expected to be individual efforts. Dishonest behavior during an exam will not be tolerated.

Violators of academic honesty policies are subject to the penalties described in the Bren School of ICS policy. They are also subject to an immediate course grade of F, and you will not be allowed to drop the course to avoid the grade. Also be aware that a single documented case of academic dishonesty may preclude you from switching into computing majors, registering for computing minors, joining the ICS Honors Program, and graduating from a computing major with honors.

The lesson

Okay, so the moral of the story is that it's wise to avoid cheating. I believe that it's relatively rare that students enter a course with the conscious intent to cheat their way through it; why come to UCI if you're not planning to get something out of the coursework? So why do people cheat every quarter in every course? The answers vary, but here's the easiest way I can boil down the numerous conversations I've had with students caught cheating in my courses over the years: I fell behind and couldn't figure out how to catch up. Things happen and ten-week quarters are unforgiving. You might get sick, you might have issues crop up in your family, you might have misunderstood one of the earlier topics in the course on which later topics dependend, you might have an off-campus job that's demanding too much of your time, you might be trying to decide whether you're on the path you want to be on... Any of those things (and many others) can make it hard to keep up. You fall a little behind, you fall a little further behind, and pretty soon the situation seems hopeless. You're under pressure, temptation gets the better of you, and suddenly it seems better to submit someone else's work than to submit nothing. It's not.

If you feel like you're beginning to slip off course or things are getting beyond your control, the best thing to do is to talk to us sooner rather than later. We're here to help; we understand. But the reality of taking large-sized courses at a large-sized institution is that we're not going to know you're in need unless you tell us. If things are happening in your life, tell us; you don't have to be specific if you're not comfortable with it. Before the fact, there's often a way to work things out. After the fact, it's usually too late.