Spring 2016

Grading Policy

6.033 consists of three components: technical material, communication/system design and analysis, and participation. Each of these components comprises roughly one third of your grade, according to the following breakdown:

35%:Technical Material
30% for Quizzes
5% for Hands-ons
40%:Communication + System design and analysis
10% for DP preliminary report + DP presentation
20% for DP report
10% for critiques
20% for recitation participation
5% for communication participation

Late Policy

You must hand in assignments when they are due, and you must attend quizzes at the scheduled times. If you feel you have a compelling reason for not handing in an assignment on time, or for not attending a quiz, please talk to Dr. LaCurts in advance; with support from S3 we will make exceptions.

The only exception to this late policy is design-project materials. For those, the late policy will be explicitly posted on each assignment.

If you miss an assignment deadline, you should still hand in the assignment; we'll give you feedback even though we won't give you credit for your final grade. Furthermore, doing assignments is the best way to prepare for exams and design project. Unless otherwise specified, assignments are due at 5:00pm on their assigned due-date (hands-ons are due at 11:59pm).

Grade Components

Technical Material


One quiz is held during the term (Quiz 1 FAQ). A second quiz will be scheduled during finals week. Each quiz will focus on half of the class' material, but keep in mind that later topics in 6.033 build heavily upon the earlier topics. The quizzes will test material from lectures, recitations, and the assigned reading. The quizzes are worth 15% each, and will be graded on a standard 0-100 scale.


During most weeks, you will be expected to complete a hands-on experiment that requires a computer, usually an Athena workstation, and sometimes the Internet. These reinforce some of the abstract concepts from the lectures or papers that week, and let you find out how things really work. These are worth 5% total, and will be graded on a standard 0-100 scale.

Communication + System design and analysis

The 6.033 staff have worked with the MIT Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication (WRAP) program for more than 10 years to design 6.033 writing and speaking assignments. We have chosen assignments that are similar to the kinds of writing you will do in the engineering workplace: memos, preliminary reports, final reports, and presentations. Communication assignments are designed to help you conceptualize and develop the design project.

Design Project

The design project requires you to develop a detailed system design to solve a real-world problem. This project will extend over most of the semester, and will be done in teams of three students, all of whom have the same TA. The project will involve a preliminary report, an oral presentation, and an extended report. The feedback we give on your preliminary report and presentation will aid in writing your final report.

Your design project will be done in teams of three. Real-world systems are not built individually; it's always a team effort. Part of the design project assignment is to learn to work productively and effectively in this setting. We will give you tools for doing so in the writing tutorials.

The preliminary report for the design project will be evaluated by your Recitation Instructor and your Communication Instructor. Your Communication Instructor will evaluate it according to the grading rubric and assign a letter grade. Your Recitation Instructor will evaluate the preliminary report to make sure your design is on the right track; you should incorporate their feedback into the presentation and report.

The presentation will be graded by your Recitation Instructor. Your presentation should reflect the feedback you got on your preliminary report; feedback on your presentation should inform your final report. We will release guidelines for the presentation as the due date gets nearer, but in general, your presentation will focus on any changes you have made since the preliminary report, rather than re-capping the entire system.

The presentation will receive a grade of check, check+, or check-. A check+ will move your preliminary report grade up one letter, a check- will move it down one letter, and a check will not change it. (E.g., if you receive a B on the preliminary report, and a check+ on the presentation, your "preliminary report + presentation" grade is an A.)

The report will also be graded by your Recitation Instructor, and will receive a letter grade.

You must turn in the design project report in order to pass 6.033. If you have not turned it in, you will automatically receive an F.

Paper Critiques

One of the goals of 6.033 is for students to be able to analyze and critique technical papers. We will assign three paper critiques during the semester. The first is worth 2%, the second two are worth 4% each.

These critiques will be graded by your TAs and Communication Instructors, and assigned a letter grade. The expectations for each individual critique will be detailed in the tutorials. As your skills at analyzing and reading technical papers improve throughout the semester, we will expect your critiques to reflect that.


Recitation Participation

Your recitation participation grade is more than just an assessment of your attendance. We expect you to engage fully in each recitation (a good rule of thumb is to try to ask or answer at least one question per recitation). 6.033 is a communication class, and oral communication is just as important as written communication.

Your recitation participation grade will be comprised of your attendance in recitation sections (attending a section means being there the entire time, not coming in for the last five minutes), your answers to the recitation questions, and your engagement in the class discussion.

We will assign the grade in two parts: one for the first half of the semester, one for the second half of the semester.

We expect you to read the recitation papers before that day's recitation. It is okay if you find aspects of the papers confusing, but you should come to recitation prepared to ask questions about what you didn't understand.

Communication Participation

A portion of your participation grade will also be based on your participation in writing tutorials and on your understanding of communication concepts and skills, as demonstrated by your work on the design project and evaluated by your communication instructor.

Note that over a third of your grade comes from written assignments: we expect you to take writing seriously in this class.


You may not collaborate on quizzes. On all other assignments you are welcome to discuss ideas with others, but your writing should be your own and you should acknowledge all contributions of ideas by others, whether from classmates or from papers you have read.

Questions or comments regarding 6.033? If you are a student, please post on Piazza. If not, send e-mail to the 6.033 staff at .

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