What To Tell Students

Students who are using PrairieLearn for the first time often have questions about its little quirks. This page collects examples and best practices for what to tell students, in order to minimize confusion.

Grading of Homework-type assessments

See the Assessment page for a description of how grading works. See below for an example (a piazza post from AE353, Spring 2017) of how this process might be explained to students.

An example note to students about how grading works

Hi Folks,

The first homework (HW1.1) has been posted. You'll find it here: https://prairielearn.engr.illinois.edu/

In assigning homework like this one, I am placing emphasis on mastery. The idea is to keep doing questions until you master the underlying concept or method. Once you do, you should be able to answer these questions very quickly.

The way this works in PrairieLearn is that each question has a value, a point total, and a point maximum. If you answer a question correctly, two things happen:

  • The point total increases by the value, until you reach the point maximum.
  • The value increases (2x, 3x, 4x, etc.).

If you answer a question incorrectly, one thing happens:

  • The value goes back to what it was originally (1x).

This system rewards repeated correct answers, which tend to demonstrate mastery. There is no penalty (other than resetting the value) for answering a question incorrectly, so don't be afraid to submit an answer. Similarly, don't be afraid to keep doing a question after you reach the point maximum - your point total with never go down!

HW1.1 is due at 10:59AM on Friday, January 27. There is no need to "submit" your homework. The system will record whatever your score is at that time.

However, you'll note the following line at the top of your screen:

Available credit: 110% until 10:59, Wed, Jan 25

What this means is that if you reach 100% prior to 10:59AM on Wednesday - i.e., complete the homework early - you will receive an extra 10% bonus. You will see this reflected in your score (the instant you reach 100%, it will jump to 110%).

If you click on the "?" just to the right of the line about available credit, you'll see all the dates associated with this homework. In particular, it says:

  • you can receive 110% until 10:59AM, Wed, Jan 25
  • you can receive 100% until 10:59AM, Fri, Jan 27
  • you can receive 80% until 10:59AM, Fri, Feb 10 (two weeks later)
  • you can receive 0%, but can keep doing problems as practice for the rest of the semester.

Note that your score will never go down. For example, if you achieve 90% by 10:59AM on Friday, January 25, you won't be able to increase your score after that time, but you won't be penalized for not reaching 100% - your score will remain 90% forever. On the other hand, if you achieve only 70% by 10:59AM on Friday, January 25, you will be able to increase your score after that time (to a maximum of 80%).

I hope this will all make sense once you've actually tried the homework, but please let me know if you have any questions.

If you believe there is a typo or an error in a question, or if you believe your answer was graded incorrectly, please take a screenshot and let me know with a private piazza post. I have access to all of your submissions and can easily check to see what, if anything, went wrong.

One last note - you'll get more homework on Wednesday, so I suggest you start HW1.1 now.

Good luck!

Tim