Appeals on Automatic Check | Policies | Teaching | What I do | Yaniv Hamo

No more appeals on the automatic check

Exercises are checked both manually, and automatically. The automatic checker takes your code, compiles it and run it with various inputs. Results are compared to a set of expected outputs, and the exercise is graded accordingly.

Since a single compilation error may cause all tests to fail, in the past students were allowed to come in special appeal hours, and fix their mistakes. This process was a nightmare both to the students, who had to wait in line sometimes 4 hours long, and to the TAs. I have discovered something very interesting - 95% of the appeals could have been prevented.

With each exercise we supply input examples along with their expected output. We added very specific instructions about how exactly to compile and run your code with our examples. No less than 95% of the cases were of students who simply did not bother to check their code prior to submission with our examples. In other words, these students didn't have the minimal respect for the course staff and its time, because they knew they will be able to appeal later.

No more.

It is impossible to appeal on automatic check anymore. To solve the problem of losing too many points on the same mistake, Harel Paz and myself have come up with an elaborated solution.

We supply the students with 3 comprehensive input examples. We then write a set of very small tests, each addresses a specific issue. The check itself consists of running your code with the exact same 3 examples that we gave you, plus these little tests. The results of the run on these 3 examples are given a heavy grade weight. A small mistake of yours will cause you to fail only in one or two small tests.

Students who checked their code against our examples, are guaranteed to have at least some of the points. The first semester I tried this method was Spring 2003, and it succeeded. The average of automatic checks without appeal, was as previous semesters after the appeals.