Rubrics and Grading

This document presents the following information:

  • General Expectations
  • Policies for Late Work
  • Rubrics for Open-Ended Projects
  • Rubrics for Looking Outwards Reports
  • Grading Breakdown

General Expectations

There are a few elementary things you can do to ensure that you receive a totally respectable grade in the course. These things may seem simple and obvious, but it’s sometimes surprising how few students seem to get this right:

  • Show up to all of the course sessions, on time.
  • Communicate with your professor if you must miss a session.
  • Submit all of the Deliverables, on time.
  • Follow instructions: do all parts of the Deliverables, paying careful attention to seemingly trivial requirements (such as categorizing your blog posts correctly, formatting your code properly, giving your blog post a title in the requested format etc.).
  • Have a positive attitude.

There are also some things you can do to earn a really great grade in the course:

  • Make interesting, novel, provocative work that’s well-crafted.
  • Be resourceful about getting the assistance you need.
  • Help your classmates when they’re stuck.
  • Make helpful contributions to discussions.

Here’s a rubric for how to succeed in a course like this, courtesy Kristin Hughes:


Follow your passion.

With very rare exceptions (I’ll be clear), I will always prefer that you make the assignment interesting to you — if necessary, by creatively bending the rules or re-interpreting the assignment. My assignments are starting-points, prompts and propositions. They are “opportunities for genius.” Think beyond them.

Policies for Late Work

Our class is fast-paced. When you submit work late, you lose big-time — not just because of some point-deduction scheme, but primarily because you miss the chance to share, show off, discuss and get feedback on your work.

Too Late. This semester, we will be grading your creative projects in an unconventional way, in which the evaluation of your projects is in part performed by outside experts who review your projects online. If your assignment is not uploaded and documented online by the time those persons do their reviews, then it is officially considered “too late” and will not be able to earn meaningful credit.

For other projects, such as Looking Outwards blog posts: These had best be uploaded and completed by the time that I get around to grading them, which is usually a few days after their stated due date. If not, I reserve the right to assign partial or zero credit to them.

Rubrics for Open-Ended Projects

The purpose of our open-ended Projects is to provide well-circumscribed opportunities for you to make creative work with code. Generally the Project prompts will invite you to explore a specific conceptual theme or set of programming techniques, but, unless stated otherwise, there is no correct solution, and no specific requirement for how to implement your idea. A Project also asks not just for a creative solution, but also for some creativity in defining and approaching the problem. Projects are published presented on this WordPress blog.

Open-ended Projects will be evaluated according to the following considerations:

  • Curiosity: Are you asking questions as you work?
  • Tenacity: Are you forging through difficult problems without giving up?
  • Execution: Are you crafting with purpose, precision, and attention?
  • Inventiveness: Are you discovering/exploring methods outside the obvious and predictable?
  • Fulfillment: Did you meet all of the requested supporting criteria (such as providing scans of sketches, categorizing your blog post correctly, etc.)?

With Projects, it may not matter how much time a student spent making it; you may sometimes observe a very quickly-executed solution which succeeds because of its strong concept. Often, however, the craft of a project is rewarded by extra attention.

Projects always have a list of supporting requirements. These are straightforward to fulfill, but if you fail to meet these, you will have points deducted.

  • Create a unique blog post for your project.
  • Make sure your blog post is titled and categorized as requested.
  • Embed your interactive project into the post, if technologically possible. Make sure its code is visible (with the p5.js embedder or WP-Syntax plugins) or properly linked (to your Github repository).
  • Include a static documentation image of your project, such as a screenshot.
  • Include scans or photos of any notebook sketches, if you have them.
  • In the case of dynamic work, include dynamic documentation too: embed a YouTube, Vimeo, or animated GIF demonstrating your project.
  • Write 100-200 words about your project, describing its development process.
  • In your writing, include some critical reflection and analysis of your project: how could it have been better? In what ways did you succeed, and in what ways could it be better?

Related to our course policies on Academic Integrity, you must also

  • Name any other students from the class from whom you received advice or help. If you had collaborators, explain how the work was distributed among the collaborators.
  • Cite and link to the sources for any code, external libraries, or other media (e.g. photographs, soundtracks, source images) which you used in your Project. This is super important, folks.

Projects will be graded with scores of 0,1,2, or 3, 4, as follows:

  • 0 (F) – No credit, generally because the student failed to deliver the assignment at all.
  • 1 (L)Too late. The project, regardless of its brilliance, was submitted so late as to miss the chance to be evaluated by our external reviewers. The train has left the station. Sorry. The one (1) point is a meager consolation prize.
  • 1 (D)A mess. The project doesn’t work, has major bugs or is incomplete to a point that is impossible to get a clear idea of the user experience. Sometimes 10% of the class will earn this grade.
  • 2 (C) – Unremarkable, Weak, Poor, or Mediocre. Unimaginative work, perhaps only technically satisfactory. The student phoned it in, and the project, while just functional, reveals a lack of evident care. Both the technical execution and the concept are sufficient but not outstanding. Sometimes 30% of the class will earn this grade.
  • 3 (B) Satisfactory or Good work, successfully meeting criteria. Generally 50% of the class will earn this grade. Good concept and excellent technical execution. Or, vice versa, excellent idea and good technical execution.
  • 4 (A) – Outstanding or exceptional concept and implementation. Usually 10% of the class will earn this grade.

Hey. Read this. Not every project you make can or will be a work of brilliance. Get over it. in this class, it is much more important to submit work on time than to freeze up, because your work isn’t perfect. Bang it out and then get some sleep. This class is about developing fluency through practice. When you’re just learning how to speak a new language, no one expects you to make beautiful poetry.

Rubrics for Looking Outwards Reports

The purpose of Assignments (LO) reports is for you to become familiar with the landscape of contemporary practices in computational new media, and to begin to articulate your own set of interests and concerns within that landscape. To that end, your ten Looking Outwards reports will form a kind of “research diary”.

The Looking Outwards reports, taken together, comprise 10% of your Deliverables grade. Each Looking Outwards report will earn 1 percentage point, up to a total of 10.

LO’s are given a grade of Pass (1) or Fail (0). Decent reports submitted by the stated deadline will pass. Missing, overdue and/or manifestly shoddy work will fail.

The professor is attentive to the evident care you put into Looking Outwards reports. Good LO’s will meet the following criteria:

  • You include an embedded image or video of the documented project.
  • You have written approximately 100-200 words on the project.
  • You explain the project, and make an effort to critique it.
  • You have published the above in a blog post, on time.
  • Your LO blog post is well-titled and correctly categorized.
  • Your writing is careful and considered.

You may be occasionally asked to discuss or present one of the projects you reported about in a Looking Outwards assignment.

Grading Breakdown

  • Participation/Engagement (20%)
  • Looking Outwards Reports  (10%)
  • Projects and other Deliverables (70%)