713 Evans Hall
Department of Mathematics
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3840
Course Syllabus for MATH 54, spring 2013:
PDF format (+ other administrative FAQ's)
For enrollment questions: Do NOT contact the instructor or the GSIs. We have no control over enrollment. Contact instead Thomas Brown, 965 Evans.
Email is ONLY for emergencies (e.g., medical and family emergencies).
Email is NOT for resolving enrollment questions, or asking for letters, or for discussion of midterm results, or for any discussion about how the student is doing in the class or how to improve. I have received lately a number of such emails, to all of which the response is to come see me in person in office hours (bringing all necessary documentation with you). You are also welcome to visit any GSI's office hours to discuss math questions or how to improve in the course; the GSIs are very qualified to discuss any math question. This is clearly written in the syllabus and was discussed in detail during the first lecture.
Notes and Statistics from Final Exam in MATH 54, spring 2013:
Statistics from the Final Exam: The median is 53 out of 90 (regular) points, or equivalently, 59 out of 100 (regular) points. There is one perfect regular score of 90 points and plenty of perfect and partial bonus credits. The specific percentiles can be found here: PDF format. For example, if your score is 72 (regular) points, then your exam is in the top 10% of the class. If your score is 53, your exam is at median of the class. These statistics will be taken off the web in July. Please, copy and read them now, as we won't distribute them in any form after they are taken off the web.
1. As a rule, the instructor and the GSI's do NOT mail, e-mail or communicate in any way the final grades to the students. The final grades are distributed to the students ONLY through the regular university channels. There will be NO exceptions to this rule regardless of how anxious you are to see your grade, regardless of students' computer problems accessing bearfacts, regardless of students' delinquency in paying bills and hence postponing the posting of their grades on bearfacts, regardless of the fact that students may be registered through UCB Extension and may receive their grades later. Please, do NOT e-mail the instructor or the GSIs asking for your grade: the GSIs are instructed not to communicate any grades, and any such e-mails will be ignored by the instructor.
2. If a student wishes to dispute the final grade, he/she has to e-mail the instructor between August 30 and September 10, 2013. However, the student must be aware that
(a) the final scores are calculated by the percentages announced in the course syllabus, and they are calculated for everyone in the same way: just like in the syllabus. Do NOT ask for exceptions to "twitch your score a bit" so as to give you a higher grade: this won't happen. The grading system is created so that it is fair to everyone. And it will stay that way.
(b) a final grade case will be reopened only if a student has a convincing reason that his/her final grade was miscalculated. Final grade cases will NOT be reopened just to check if the final grade was calculated correctly. The assumption is that all final grades are calculated correctly, unless a convincing evidence to the contrary is brought forward.
(c) a final grade case, once opened, will be fully reviewed, and the final score and final grade will be fully recalculated. This means that, if there is an error, the final grade could go down as well as up. If the final grade calculation reduces the grade, I will have no choice but to change the final grade to the new lower grade and there will be no turning back. Thus, do NOT submit frivolous or unjustified requests. By the way, for the 16 years that I have been teaching at UCB since I was a postdoc, I cannot recall a single case where a student complained that his/her grade should have been higher and that turned out to be the case! So, keep this in mind before you send any complaints about a final grade.
3. If a student wishes to know facts about the final exam (e.g., median, etc): some of this information is posted on this website, and NO FURTHER INFORMATION about final grades, the class grade curve and such will be shared with the students: this is internal information and will not be disclosed to the class, nor to individual students, parents or others. Keep in mind that doing well on the final exam alone is NO guarantee of an increased final grade. No further questions about statistics, level of difficulty and other info about final exam will be distributed, so don't ask for such.
4. If a student wishes to view his/her final exam: the final exams are out of our hands and into the hands of the main office on the 9th floor in Evans Hall. The student must go there and follow the rules for viewing the final exams within the allowed viewing period. I am told that the Math Dept will start showing final exams sometime this summer 2013. The student must also be aware that if he/she wishes to contest the final exam score, the student CANNOT leave the main office with the final exam under any circumstances: the student can view the final only in the presence of the main office staff. Then, if the student wants to contest the final exam score, the student must e-mail the instructor between August 30-September 10, 2013 and I will pull the final exam from the main office after August 30 and then I will review the complaint. A student CANNOT take the exam from the office and bring it to me: if by any chance this happens, the student will be disqualified from the right to contest his final exam score. No exceptions. Again, keep in mind that a final exam score can go up as well as down, and a very convincing reason must be supplied to me before I reopen the final exam, and hence the whole final grade case for that student!
5. If a student didn't take the final exam, he/she gets an automatic F, as announced in the syllabus. If the student has a documented medical or family emergency and wishes to petition for an incomplete, all such petitions will be considered by May 23, 2013, but not later!
There is no need to send me e-mails during summer break and ask me for your grades, final exams, regrading, etc. To such e-mails, I shall reply only after the fall classes start at UCB. Please, be reasonable and let the GSIs and me have our summer break, just like you want to have a summer break.
All e-mails on questions addressed above shall be ignored.
However, every year there are students who blatantly ignore the rules above and bother me and their GSIs with pleas that "they received A's on their midterms" and "how come they received a final grade of C+ or B, when they should be getting a final grade of A"? As it inevitably turns out, their midterms are by far not A's and their finals are below the class median. In one previous case, the final exam was so poor -- 50 points below the class median! -- that it would have deserved a letter grade F if I were to give grades to the final exams alone! Yet, this student still e-mailed me to ask how come he didn't get a final grade of B-?? In another case, the student just assigned himself letter grades A to both of his midterms (by what rule, I do not know, since we never assigned letter grades to midterms) and asked why he didn't get a final grade of A-? As it turned out, this student's midterms certainly wouldn't have received A's if I were to assign letter grades to the midterms, and the final exam was below the class median. In any case, all final grades are computed using the exams scores (not some fictitious letter grades that students wished they had received on the exams).
And the history repeats itself. Here are excerpts from two e-mails which I got in earlier courses:
"I am writing in regard to my grade in Math 53. I just checked bearfacts and it says I got an F. I know I have been doing pretty bad in the course, but I received a D in the midterms and I request you to please consider a change in my grade to D."
"I know I wasn't doing very well in the class, but I was surprised that I failed the class. I know I was in the 90% percentile for the midterms and I have done all my homework. I hope professor can give me a chance and reopen my final grade case."
The above e-mails are in clear violation with more than one of the rules and regulations posted here about the final grades. The final grades for these students will NOT be reopened as there is no reason for doing that: we shall NOT re-open student files and recalculate grades just because someone hopes we did it ``wrong": the assumption is that no final exams have been lost!!, that all midterm and final exam scores have been correctly included in the final grade calculation, and that all grades are calculated correctly. Some students are particularly arrogant in ignoring all this, and hope that somehow miraculously their grade will go up if we reopen their final grade cases -- remember, this has not happened for the last 16 years I have taught at UCB. Be fair: let me and the GSIs have our summer break after working so hard non-stop the last few days on finishing the grading in time!!
Berkeley Math Circle