Chem 442 Announcement

Announcements and FAQs

This page contains announcements for the course (e.g. answers to FAQs, alerts about reading assignments changes, scheduling changes, answers to questions asked by many students, etc).

Announcement 1: Grading

The points in this course are distributed as follows:

20% for all turn-in homeworks

20% for hour exam 1

20% for hour exam 2

40% for final exam

Total: 100%

The grade in this class is not curved. >80% is an A- or A, 55-79% is a B- to B+, and 35-54% is a C- to C+. The typical grade distribution usually comes out about 30% A, 45% B and 20% C. The benefits are two-fold: the curve will not change if you help someone else, and you will learn even more by discussing the material with others.

Announcement 2: Lecture attendance, and likely impact on grade

In this class, there are no gimmicks to make you attend lecture (no pop quizzes, no attendance points, etc.). It is up to you to decide whether you’ll attend. However, lectures will NOT be recorded: they are live events, although your TA will make their notes available to you after lecture in case you have to miss one. Let me give you some hard data on lecture attendance based on past experience:

1) In 2015, 45 out of 78 students came to lecture regularly. Their final course average was 76%. 33 out of 78 students did not come to lecture regularly. Their final course average was 56%, a full 20% lower! The moral: Gruebele is in the lecture to teach you quantum mechanics, not to recite the book. You’ll learn more by going to lecture.

2) Again, the course is NOT CURVED. Gruebele is more than happy to give everyone who can get >80% of the course points an A- or A. In fall of 2016, based on statistical analysis 20% more students could have gotten As if they had come to lecture and done the homework on their own before peeking at the answers.

Announcement 3: Homework due date, return and late policy

One problem per lecture will be graded. It says which one on the homework set. Homework is due at the beginning of the first lecture of the following week. ALL homework solutions are posted RIGHT FROM THE START. This will save you trips to the “fraternity files.” You should do ALL homework the week it is assigned (including problems not to be turned in), and only peek at the solutions and correct yourself after you have made a serious effort: Problems similar to the homework problems are featured on each hour exam and on the final exam. Feel free to do the homework in groups, as long as everyone contributes to the discussion. Students who just copy the solutions mostly fail to be able to do similar problems on the exams quickly enough to get through the whole exam.

Late homework: 50% credit, no questions asked, as long as it is turned in no more than a week late. ALL homework MUST be in your HANDWRITING showing all the steps, not just the final answer. (After all, the solutions ARE available.)

There is no credit for just the final answer.

Homework return: Your graded homework will be available at all TA office hours (in person instruction) or via Moodle (online instruction). If you can’t pick it up immediately, no worries, we keep it, even the oldest ones, until you pick it up.And of course if it’s on Moodle (online instruction), it’s always available to you after being graded.

Announcement 4: Hour exams and final

The hour and final exam dates, and the lectures covered on each hour exam, are posted on the Schedule. The final covers ALL course material, i.e. all homework problems.

All exams ARE OPEN BOOK. This means the assigned course textbook, your class notes, your homework, and your solutions of your homework. You can also annotate your book (paperback or electronic version). You can use any calculator you want. Gruebele’s advice: Know the material, and carefully review your own solutions in your own writing. Gruebele has seen a lot of students who were not able to finish the exam on time because they spent all their time browsing the web searching in the online homework solutions or desperately riffling through their 100 sheets of notes. If you have well-organized solutions of your own, annotated your textbook and carefully studied your notes, they will help guide you through exam problems quickly, but if you start desperately searching through stuff during the exam for every little thing because you didn’t study, you will not be able to finish.

Gruebele and the TAs will have reviews before each hour exam, and before finals week. The hour exams will be during class time, 50 minutes. Each exam has 5 questions, one “new”, 4 of them directly modified from the homework assignments. The final is 10 questions, 2 “new” and 8 directly based on homework. You have 3 hours for the final, so it’s more relaxed than the hour exams.For the online version, Moodle will be used to make the exams available to you at the start of the exam period.

Gruebele recommends going to TA office hours or his office hours regularly and asking questions about homework problems or lecture material you had trouble with; 4 of 5 questions on the exam are derived from past homework.