You are expected to do the readings before the corresponding class and come to class with questions that you've gotten stuck on. Keep abreast of what is expected by referring frequently to the schedule page.
Learning how to read texts and other literature of our field fluently is one of the skills that we want you to develop throughout your career. It takes practice, but once you get good at it, it's surprisingly easy. Come to each lecture with the high-level ideas from the readings and questions from the reading you hope to have answered. Try to spot the answers during the lecture, and ask questions if you aren't satisfied. An important step is then to re-read the corresponding reading and figure out, with the benefit of hindsight, how you could have gotten un-stuck without the help of the lecture.
I will call on people directly with questions about the reading. This is a graduate class and you need to get used to speaking in front of others. If you are shy about this, you will get over it by practicing it.
Not knowing the answer is no cause for embarrassment. I don't know all the answers either. However, if it becomes clear that you didn't even look at the reading before class, it is embarrasing to get caught not meeting this basic expectation. It's an obligation you have to your classmates.
If you are only sitting in, these expectations don't apply to you, though your participation is welcome.
Revisit the same material many times over many days, refining and simplifying your understanding of it each time, asking yourself questions about it. I will sometimes call on people about things we talked about in previous classes.
Regular attendance is an expectation. I don't give credit for attendance, but failure to attend regularly will likely be hard on your homework and exam grades. I will follow up with people who could be getting into trouble over this issue, to find out what's going on, to make my expectations clear, or to help them put together a plan to make it up if they have had an illness or other unavoidable reason for missing class.
The grading will be determined as follows:
I don't accept late homeworks, since I often give out solutions right after they're due. To get you out of any unforeseen mishaps, I will throw out your lowest homework grade. Even if you give me a legitimate reason for turning a homework in late or missing a quiz, I will tell you to use this "freebie". Granting exceptions to this rule raises fairness issues. Missing more than this is a reason for a grade penalty even if it was caused by illness, since the grade must reflect the work you did during the semester. The freebie is an effort to protect you from being hurt by routine illnesses, family issues, computer crashes at the last minute, etc. My advice is to keep the freebie in reserve for as long as possible.
Homework and exam grades are curved to give a distribution of grades that is consistent with those in other graduate-level classes at CSU.
The problems I give on homeworks range from extremely easy to extremely hard. A common misconception is that I expect you to solve all of them successfully. You should view each problem as an opportunity to explore a topic, to try to come up with your own ideas, and score some points if you're successful at finding a solution. They are not intended to be stressful, and you should try to have fun with them. If you can engage your curiosity, you will be more likely to ask yourself questions that will lead you to a solution and anticipate questions that I might ask about on the exams.
Don't spend too long on a problem if you aren't making progress. Start early and come to office hours or ask in class if you get stuck. Remember that if you find a problem really hard, it is likely that many of your classmates won't get solutions to it, and the curve will protect you. Be sure to attempt all of the homework problems, since the posted solutions will be a lot more instructive if you have attempted the problems first. Be sure to study all the homework solutions, as this will help you on the exams. which will have variants of problems you've seen on homeworks, as well as opportunities for creative insight that most people usually miss, due to the difficulty of solving them under a time constraint.
Because of the amount of work required to grade proofs, after assignments are turned in, I will announce a subset that will be graded. The subset will consist of easy, medium, and hard problems. All exam problems will be graded except when there is a widespread misunderstanding or other reason to toss a problem out.
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