Taught by A. Potasznik

Post-Grade FAQs

Once your assignment has been graded, you should be able to see exactly what you did right and wrong in order to improve for next time. Some people may have difficulty making sense of the grade or comments; if so, please use this page as a guide.

1. When will my paper be graded?

Write-ups: As mentioned in class, the graders and I provide feedback and grades as quickly as possible. There are approximately 160 students enrolled in the course, and giving comprehensive feedback with lots of notes for each one takes time. If you want feedback as quickly as possible, please submit your paper at least 3 days before it is due. Submitting on the due date puts your paper in the middle of a large pile to grade; submitting close to midnight means yours will be one of the last papers graded. Please do not email the professor asking for special consideration or expedited grading in this regard.

Projects: The grade for your project presentation will be visible to you in Blackboard after class on the same day you present.

Homework: I do my best to update homework discussion grades in Blackboard within 24 hours of the discussion itself. This timeline does not apply at the beginning of the semester, when the flux of the add/drop period precludes me from having accurate enrollment documentation. Finalized grades for days 1, 2 and 3 will be delayed approximately 10 days; you can verbally check with me if you need to know these grades sooner. Late/emailed homework may take up to a week to be entered.

Midterm: I usually submit midterm grades within 4 days of the exam.

2. Why do I have a zero?

There are 4 possible reasons.
a) You did not submit the assignment within the correct time frame,

b) You plagiarized,

c) You entered more than one submission. In this case, your first submission will receive a grade of 0 (we assume that if you submitted again, something was wrong with the first one and it should be ignored). The 0 will remain until your final attempt is graded, at which point that grade will replace the zero, or

d) You submitted in the wrong format. You must submit in .docx or .pdf format (see instructions page).

3. I don’t like the grade I got. Can I use my second attempt to try again?

No. Once an attempt is graded, you may not resubmit for credit, even if the submission window is still open. This doesn’t always mean the grade is final (see #5 below). If you submit your first attempt and notice a mistake before it is graded, you should use your second attempt and correct it. From there the second attempt will be considered the only attempt, which is good (the mistakes from the first attempt won’t result in deductions) but also may bring issues (if your second attempt is late, it will have a late deduction, even if your first attempt was on time).

3a. But I tried really hard on this! I put a lot of time and effort into it!

Sadly, neither time nor effort are enough on their own to excel at this work. ‘A’s are earned when you not only meet, but master all rubric components, assignment instructions, course objectives, and course learning outcomes. Assuming that after putting in lots of time, you should automatically get a good grade, is an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. One does not cause the other.

4. What does “see comments” mean?

Any deduction in point value on a write-up corresponds to an issue in your paper. This issue is highlighted either in the comment box or on the document itself. You can find the comments by looking at your submission and clicking on the yellow comment boxes among the text.

Of course, looking at your rubric will also elucidate where and why points were deducted.

5. What does “syntax” mean?

This means that your sentence does not use correct English grammar, spelling, or sentence structure.

Recently, several accidents were happened to the Tesla vehicles and its owner.


Recently, owners of Tesla vehicles have experienced a wave of automotive accidents.

Syntax errors are serious because they prevent the reader from understanding your point. If that doesn’t convince you, please see here. In order to fix these errors, you have a few choices: you can go to the writing center and find a tutor (tutors will help you with general techniques but will not proofread), you can ask a friend to look over your paper, or you can find a syntax correction app/service. Some examples of such services include Grammarly or PaperFixers (I do NOT professionally recommend these services, they are just ideas for consideration).
Unfortunately, I will not proofread your papers for you.

6. Who graded my paper?

It is relatively rare for the professor to grade weekly write-ups. Instead, graders handle the majority of submissions. Graders are former CSIT285 students who excelled in the course in general, and with the write-ups in particular. These former students have been extensively trained and tested by the professor. They have also attended various calibration sessions in order to align their grading styles as closely as possible with the professor’s. Still, they are not perfect, and the grades they assign may be altered by the professor, with or without the matter being brought to the student’s attention. If you feel a grader has made a mistake or that the grade they assigned was unfair or inaccurate in any way, please contact the professor within 3 days of the grade submission in accordance with the following guidelines:

a. If the issue revolves around a clear and demonstrable mistake (e.g., the grader gave late credit when the assignment was on time), you can simply email your concerns.

b. If the issue has to do with anything remotely subjective (number of points taken off, comments, etc), please complete the Grade Dispute checklist. From there you may email me or schedule a meeting to go over various parts of your assignment and request clarification in person within 3 days of the grade being posted.

Here is a page prepared by current and former graders with advice on how to minimize your writing deductions.

7. The submission window is closed, and now I can’t see comments or rubrics of my older write-ups.

Please select Blackboard > My grades > Name of Assignment. You should be able to see annotations there (see pic below) and there is also an option in the top right of the document to download a PDF copy of your annotations.

Also, one of your classmates has provided an in-depth presentation on how to access old assignments when the submission link is no longer active. Big thanks to Udaya for putting this together. 

Portfolio Tutorial (ppt)

Portfolio Tutorial (pdf)

8. What does “optional” mean for the last WW?

Please see here.

9. What grade do I have to get on [assignment] in order to [goal]?

Students are expected to answer this question for themselves and not address it to the professor. You can calculate this for yourself by using the weights in the syllabus; one of your fellow students also shared this resource to help you automate the process (thanks Pamela!). Make sure you set the weights to those described in the syllabus to get an accurate calculation.

10. I’m not great at writing. Can somebody help me?

Yes. All of the resources for writing write-ups are in one place here. You can also ask me questions via email (with multiple business days between your email and the due date), or even come to office hours and write your paper there – there is a desk and chair available – asking me questions whenever they pop up. You can also visit the writing center or schedule tutoring sessions (for free) for help from students who excel at writing. You can also meet with classmates to brainstorm and get tips on write-ups, but be careful: do not take credit for any work that isn’t your own, as that would be plagiarism.

11. I have a draft of my paper. Will you check it before I submit?

No. I will not read entire papers in order to “check” them or proofread them before submission.

I will however, be happy to provide answers to targeted questions.

    • No: “Can you read my paper and tell me what to fix?”
    • Yes: “At the end of my second paragraph, I’d like to make sure I cited my source correctly. Can you confirm that my in-line citation is accurate?”

These questions can be emailed or discussed during office hours. Note that I do my best to answer emails within 24 hours on business days; emails sent on weekends will probably not get responses until the next business day. That timeline should be factored into any requests you may put forth.

12. Can I have an extension?

If you ask for an extension 48 hours or more before an assignment deadline with professional communication, I am likely to grant it. Please do not ask for extensions within a few hours of the deadline (I probably won’t even be awake to answer) or after the deadline passes (the late policy is clear in the syllabus). Note that I do my best to answer emails within 24 hours on business days; emails sent on weekends will probably not get responses until the next business day. That timeline should be factored into any extension requests you may put forth.

13. Why do I have a late deduction?

Late deductions are assigned in line with the policy outlined in the syllabus.

13a. But it wasn’t my fault the submission was late – my computer was rebooting, or my internet cut out, or I couldn’t log into Blackboard…

In class (and in life) it is your responsibility to plan things in a time frame that allows for some events outside of your control.
If you plan to take a train, you should get to the station early. Showing up to the station 30 seconds before the train leaves SHOULD work, but in reality, you might be delayed by a slow traveler in front of you, a glitching ticket reader, bad weather… in that case, you may well miss the train. The train schedule does not change for such events, so you will be stuck waiting for the next train and perhaps buying a new ticket. A little extra planning gets you where you’re going.
If your computer starts glitching at 11:55pm on the write-up due date, and that’s when you’re trying to submit an assignment, your submission may well not go through until after the deadline. In accordance with course policy, you’ll get a deduction for that. If you plan better, and do your assignment with a day of cushion before the deadline, such rare (but possible) issues with technology won’t affect you. The course policy doesn’t change for inconveniences or glitches. If there is a serious Blackboard outage, of course, I will communicate with the class about changed expectations.

See here for more information about your submission only being a tiiiiiiny bit late.

Feedback is not a personal attack.

Please note that when graders or professors point out issues, it is not a reflection of you as a person. It is a reflection of the work you submitted presenting opportunities for improvement. Recognizing this makes reviewing grades, and learning in general, a much more pleasant experience.

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