Grading Policies

Yep, you found it. This is the page with the details about grades in this course. This course is set up so that you can succeed!

For example, grades are assigned on a point scale. If you earn an A, you receive an A. Thus you are not competing with your classmates. Instead, we hope you will work together, enjoy each other's company, and do well.

As another example, your instructors will give you feedback via a short quiz in lecture most weeks. The questions are pre-announced and not a secret! You will get clear signals as to what is important.

As one more example, your TAs are available each week in lab to answer your questions. Feel free to consult with them if you need help with something.

Please keep in good touch. During the semester, things unexpectedly may happen that will affect your ability to study. Let us know when problems arise, and we will work with you to find solutions.


Class Project

In this course, we want you to grow in your ability to do 3 things. For the purposes of launching a semester-long conversation, we frame as superpowers:

For your project, select one of these powers to investigate some aspect of energy or food on the UW-Madison campus. Your final presentation will be to your classmates in mid-April during your regularly scheduled lab period.

Read this document for an overview of the class project, including the due dates. You'll see that the assignment has six parts, each designed to insure your success at the end:

  1. Superpower Training #1, Super-vision (15 points)
  2. Superpower Training #2, Time travel (15 points)
  3. Superpower Training #3, Nature communication (15 points)
  4. Project Topic (15 points)
  5. Project Update and Time log (30 points)
  6. Project Fair during your lab period (60 points)

Points are awarded for both the end product (#6) and for steps along the journey to produce it (#1-#5). Use the DropBox in Learn@UW to upload each part.

Quizzes: An incentive for you to keep up
Starting Week #2, quizzes will be held weekly during class - usually on Thursdays, but there are a few Tuesdays thrown into the mix. These quizzes are designed to be quick to take and easy to score. They provide an incentive to keep current with the material.

Quizzes: Grading
Worth 25 points each, quizzes will be returned promptly in lecture or lab. Although we expect the quiz scores to run high, you still may drop your lowest score. In return for this, we are not offering make-up quizzes for any reason.

Quizzes: What if you need an early quiz?
We know that you cannot be in two places at once. So here's the deal. If you know ahead of time that you won't be at class, you are welcome to take an early quiz at 7:30 am the day of the quiz. Arrange this with your TA at least 2 days ahead of time (by 6 pm Sunday for a Tuesday quiz and by 6 pm Tuesday for a Thursday quiz). Again, if you miss a quiz for any reason, just use this as the quiz you drop.

Quizzes: Open advertising of questions
Each quiz is closed-book, but you will have seen all of the questions previously. They are drawn from two sources: (1) questions in the lab manual, and (2) a pre-announced set of questions posted on the course web site (Lectures tab).

Quizzes: Where to find help
Answer keys to the pre-announced questions will not be posted. If you have questions, seek help from your TA, use office hours and your lecture materials, or work together with your classmates.

Exams: Timing and coverage
This course has two in-class exams, each covering material in the weeks that precede it:
Exam 1: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Exam 2: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Although these exams are not intended to be cumulative, inevitably some topics will build upon those learned previously. Each exam will be designed to take 1 hour, but the entire 75-minute class period will be available. If you need an early exam, request it at least one week prior to the exam.

Exams: Answer keys from Spring 2014
Use these to help you study for the final exam:
Exam #1, Exam #1 KEY
Exam #2, Exam #2 KEY

Exams: A minimum of trickiness
In writing questions, your instructors aim to be straightforward, sending clear signals about what you need to know and what you need to do. In other words, it is nobody's intention to be tricky.

This said, it is nearly impossible to construct an exam that is 100% clear. Even with good intentions by the teaching staff (we all proofread the exams), one or two questions always will miss the mark, meaning that students will call them unfair or tricky. So after each test, the course instructors will look for the glitches in test construction and ways to address them. For example, they may pre-announce a bonus question on a subsequent quiz or exam.

Exams: What if you need an early exam?
Consult with your TA at least a week before the exam. We'll work with you to arrange something. There are no late exams.

Final Exam: Thursday, May 15
The final exam is cumulative and designed to take 1.5 hours. You will have 2 hours to complete it. This exam, scheduled by the registrar, is on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm. If you have three exams scheduled in a 24-hour period (and this is one of them), please consult with your professor by Monday, May 5, at the latest.

Final Exam: Take-Home activities
On the final exam, 50 points are take-home activities. Select any 2 from this list of 4, each worth 25 points. Note: if you did the interview with Kata, you already earned 25 points so you only need to select 1activity.
A. Bike Trail Clean-up
B. Move-Out Day
C. The Hunger Project
D.Energy & Your Shower

Exams and quizzes: Cheating
No form of academic dishonesty will be tolerated. Period. Any instances will result in failure of the quiz or exam, possibly failure of the course, and a letter placed in your file at the Office of the Dean of Students. Read the Academic Integrity Statement from the Dean of Students.






25 points

150 points

250 points

  When held

in class

in class

May 15, 2:45 pm





  Material covered

~1 week

~1.5 month


  Questions preannounced




  Drop lowest




  Early exam




  late exam






Class Activity Points
Some points, such as those for quizzes, are easy to obtain because the questions are pre-announced. Strive to get all of them! Exam points are harder, but keep in mind that the instructor recognizes that most students learn well and perform well in this course. Typically exam scores average around 80% (in contrast to quizzes for which the average is closer to 90%). Here is the point distribution (includes dropping lowest quiz score):

   In-class quizzes     250 points (10 @25 each)
   Class Questions       30 points
   Laboratories           120 points (12 @10 each)
   Exams                     300 points (2 @ 150 each)
   Final Exam             250 points
   Class Project          150 points
   TOTAL               1100 points


% of the points


















< 70% or missing 2 labs



< 65% or missing 3 labs


Your instructor reserves the right to modify or correct any errors in the grading scale.