Grading Criteria for Term Projects

From CMSC734 Spring 2015
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Your team projects take a great deal of work over the semester. They deserve careful review! In respect for your work, I work hard to grade them, which takes me several days, but I love doing this and am usually impressed by the projects students have done.

I don’t have a fixed template for components of grades. I like to read all the projects once, putting annotations on the papers about what I like and what could be fixed. Then I will return to review each, since seeing different projects reminds me of what I might have missed in my first reading. I write typed reports for each groups with my detailed comments. I assign grades and review again to ensure I have been as fair as possible. I consider which groups to push towards a conference or journal submission.

Here’s what I’m looking for in a great project:

  • Ambition in terms of what the group takes on, but I expect a completed project (ambitious goals that are not reached trouble me greatly)
  • Innovativeness of the design and application, with clear statement of contributions
  • Complexity of implementation and its maturity
  • Availability of a demo version: How close to a functioning system that might be usable by others. How scalable along appropriate dimensions, e.g. input size & diversity
  • Extensiveness of evaluations: Size & extensiveness of usability test or case studies. Whether more than one round of evaluation was conducted
  • Quality of the written report:

◦Well-organized report that clarifies the contributions (I note spelling, grammar & idiomatic English usage, but don’t count these in grading)

◦Readable figures & organized tables with strong captions that highlight the contributions

◦Clear description of the problem and background literature review

◦Presentation of the design, refinements based on evaluation

◦Conclusions and future directions

◦Correctly & consistently formatted references

◦Sections on credits (indicating who did what) and acknowledgements

◦Videos are really helpful (sometimes essential) to understand the project features, but I use videos more to understand the report.

In some classes there may be a project that has a really poor report that omits some of what I expect or makes unreasonable claims for their success. I have been known to go back to them and give them 24-48 hours to revise. I’m eager that all the reports on the website are something that I and they can be proud of – good enough to show to employers, send to colleagues, and inspire future students.