Course Policies#

Our work within the course structure is governed by the following policies, in addition to applicable university policies and regulations and general principles of academic and scholarly integrity.

Web Site and Announcements#

I will use Piazza for all course communication, including announcements. Please make sure your Piazza notifications are set correctly, so that you are notified of important announcements.

I will sometimes need to update assignments after I have issued them. When this is necessary, I will include a revision log at the top of the assignment describing the changes, and will make a course announcement regarding the change. I will also state whether the revision changes a requirement (this is rare), or clarifies a requirement.

Late Work#

For the assignments, you have a budget of 6 late days to use throughout the semester, at your discretion.

  • Each late day extends an assignment deadline by 24 hours with no penalty.

  • Late days are indivisible, so submitting an assignment 12 hours late requires an entire late day.

  • You may use up to 3 late days on a single assignment.1

When submitting an assignment using a late day, state with your submission the number of days you are using. I appreciate it if you notify me (via a Piazza private message) prior to the deadline that you are planning to submit late, but do not require you to do so.

This policy, combined with dropping the lowest assignment grade, is designed to accommodate most ordinary need for extensions or late submissions. Therefore, exceptions beyond this policy will not generally be granted; any requests for individual exceptions must be submitted in writing (by e-mail or Piazza) so that I have a record of the request and my response.

Exams will be at the published times. The makeup exam is the ordinary accommodation for not being able to take the exam when scheduled.

Cheating and Academic Integrity#

As both a scientist and a student, you are expected to do your own work, attribute sources, and respect the legal and moral rights of others with respect to their work; as a student, you are also required to abide by the Boise State University Student Code of Conduct. While I aim to allow you to make reasonable use of resources, cheating (including copying code, using unauthorized resources during tests, etc.) is not ok. If you are found to be cheating, the penalty may range from an F on the assignment to an F on the course and will generally be reported to the university.


I expect you to behave in a civil, respectful manner in all class interactions and to contribute to a constructive learning environment.

The Recurse Center Social Rules are a good source of guidance on how to maintain a constructive and educational environment.

If you experience or witness harassment of any form, please let me know. You should know, however, that by university policy I am a mandatory reporter under Title IX, and am required to report any complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination I receive to the university’s Title IX coordinator. I am happy to talk with you about what that means. If you need support but do not wish anything to be reported, the university has confidential resources available; I am happy to help you locate them if you tell me you need confidential support without providing me any details. My goal with telling you this is not to dissuade you from reporting violations of Title IX β€” I fully support reporting and investigating sexual harassment β€” but rather to inform you of the relevant rules, so that you can make an informed decision about when, whether, and to whom you report a problem.

Disability Accommodations#

If you need particular accommodations or support to be able to fully participate in this course, please talk with me as soon as possible by e-mail or in office hours. If you have documentation from Disability Services authorizing specific accommodations, please bring it; however, a documented disability is not necessary for me to be willing to talk with you about how to make the course work for you.


While we are partly back to β€œnormal”, this semester is difficult, with an unknown set of risks hanging over us and massive disruption in our work, study, and outside lives. I have designed the content, assessment plan, and policies of this class to try to be as flexible and accommodating of the various pressures and difficulties as possible while providing our intended learning outcomes. If there are things that are not working, or challenges arise that affect how you can engage with the class, please let me know β€” I want to make this work for you.

One specific risk is that one of you (or I) contract COVID-19 or another serious illness during the semester. I hope this does not happen to any of us, but I have attempted to account for this risk by setting the design parameter that you should be able to miss two full weeks of the semester (or perhaps even three) with minimal impact on learning outcomes and grades, possibly with the need to do some catch-up work. The following policies are specifically designed to accommodate this:

  • Asynchronous content delivery through video lectures and readings, so you can watch them at your convenience and catch up with course content later.

  • Dropping the lowest assignment score, so you can miss an entire assignment window with no effect on grade. If you need to do this, I encourage you to still do the missed assignment for your own study purposes, but you can do that on a timetable that works with your schedule and health needs.

  • Grading in-class work and quizzes on 10 out of 15 weeks.

  • A makeup exam to replace your lowest midterm grade, so you can miss a midterm and compensate with the makeup.

If you need to miss more than 2–3 weeks of class due to illness, it is likely that you will need to take an incomplete on the course. I am happy to work with you on this if it becomes necessary.

While COVID-19 is the direct impetus for much of this design, these class features are not limited to that specific illness. I want us to take care of our own and each others’ health, which may include staying home from class, and while doing so will result in missed practice and discussion (and the design of in-class activities is not amenable to recording), I am designing the grading policies to avoid formal penalties for taking care of yourself.

Communication will be the key to making this semester work. I welcome your feedback in general, and particularly around things that are or are not working for the course structure, both generally and for your particular situation.


The purpose of this rule is so that we can discuss assignment solutions on Thursday after they are due.