Guidelines for Problem Set Presentation
For several reasons, your homework solutions should be neat, organized, easy to read, and otherwise beautiful:
- Everything that you turn in sends a message about who you are and what you care about
- You want the grader of your work to be in a
- Being able to organize technical material is important in nearly all careers
- Recopying and organizing helps clarify and organize the material in your mind
- Neat and organized homework can be extremely helpful when studying for exams
If the problem is summarized beforehand, and if your solution is
clear, sensible and easy to read,
you can easily study from it. If it is messy, not
detailed, or illogical, it is not a useful studying tool. Even if it neat and logically presented, if you haven't summarized the question, studying from it becomes considerably more time-consuming.
Turning in neat, complete, and organized problem sets does take more time in the short run, but it saves time in the long run. It helps you internalize the material now, and makes studying for exams easier. And the more you practice presenting your ideas in an organized fashion, the better prepared for life after college you are, no matter what field you choose!
Below are specific guidelines that I require from your homework.
Following these guidelines makes the grading easier for the grader, but also makes your papers more
useful to you in the future. If you do not follow them, you may lose points, or even get your homework back ungraded.
Save each problem set once it has been returned
to you, for studying
- Follow the Honor Code:
- Write the solutions in your own words: While working with others is fine, you are responsible for understanding everything you have written down.
- Do not divvy up the problems: doing so not only cheats yourself but is taking credit for others' work.
- Cite anybody you worked with: If you get help from a tutor or friend, cite it on the front of the problem set or on individual problems. Similarly, if I assign group problem sets in your class: if your group works with other groups, cite it.
- If you use any technology beyond just using a calculator to do basic arithmetic, say so at the step that you used it.
- Write the pledge on every problem set.
- Recopy your work.
- Your solutions should make sense, and have no
scratch-outs. Let a good eraser or white-out pen be your friend.
- State or summarize the
question, before giving the solution.
- When you include a summary,
and any given data, your problem set becomes a very useful
Without this, your homework is virtually
useless for studying.
- The point is not just the answer, the point is the solution process. Because of that:
- Don't just state answers, explain your work, using a combination of notation
and complete sentences.
- Your solution should flow logically. A solution is not just several snapshots of what you were thinking, ending up with your conclusion. It should consist of enough so that anyone reading it who's at the same point in the class as you are can follow it. If you are using variables (for instance, in a word problem) clearly define them before using them. If two things are equal, say so. If you are doing a calculation that involves a string of things that are equal, there should be equal signs between each piece. If you are taking a limit (for example), that should show up in several places. If you use technology (graphing calculator, Wolfram Alpha, Mathematica, etc) to reach a conclusion, say so.
- Make your homework handsome and readable.
- One way to do this is to use pencil
rather than pen.
- If you must use pen, only use one side of
(Feel free to use the clean side of paper that's
been once through the printer. )
- The grader may choose not to grade a problem set that is too hard to read.
- Leave space between the problems, and within each problem, leave space between ideas.
- This not only looks neater, but at least as importantly, it gives the grader room to respond.
Do not try to cram your entire problem set onto only a single page.
While the trees would undoubtedly benefit from your economy,
my eyes do not. Use however many pages are necessary for a spacious and relaxed presentation.
- Remove "frills".
- If you are using paper from a spiral notebook, remove all the ruffles. They get snagged on other assignments. The grader may take points off for frills.
- Staple your papers together.
Please do not use paperclips, or fold over the corners, or tape the pages together in the vain hope that
this will keep your assignment together.
It will only get
caught up with other assignments. The grader may take off a couple points for a problem set that is not stapled.
- You put a lot of effort into your homework, make it look like you did!
- (Even if you don't put alot of effort into your homework, I'm sure you can still see the benefit in making it look like you did.)
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Science Center, Room 1306
Norton, Massachusetts 02766-0930
TEL (508) 286-3973
FAX (508) 285-8278
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