Q: Why are we doing GROUP assessments?
A: Several reasons. We’ve run the research studies (seriously!) and have found that students learn more, find the class less difficult, and generally enjoy getting to work with other students more than when the class is more individualistic. Additionally, one of the greatest benefits to studying at Illinois is the amazing students. We would hate for students to miss out on the opportunity to work alongside some of the best students in the world.

Q: Why is the class synchronous?
A: We tried asynchronous last semester and it was a logistical nightmare for many students. Students also felt that they couldn’t connect with the instructional staff as well. We are trying synchronous class meetings this semester to make things simpler and to encourage more support from course staff for students. For example, we hope students can use class time to ask questions and not have to wait for crowded office hours.

Q: Can we choose our own group?
A: Not to start. Eventually, yes.

Q: Why not?
A: A lot of students are adding and dropping CS 233 throughout the first two weeks, making it nearly impossible to form more permanent teams without a lot of headaches for everyone. We will let you form teams or will assign you to teams once the class roster is more stable. Also, many students do not know anyone else in the course. By randomly assigning students to teams at the start of the semester, we are giving these students an opportunity to meet other students and form teams with people they connect with.

Q: How will teams be assigned?
A: For the first few weeks (at least GROUP1-GROUP4), teams will be assigned randomly because many students are still adding/dropping the course making it somewhat pointless to create longterm assigned teams. After the first few weeks, there will be an assignment in PrairieLearn where you can form your own team of 3 or indicate which section you intend to attend. If you form your own team, that will be your team for the remainder of the semester. If you do not form your own team, we will assign teams based on your preferred section.

Q: I heard that teams were going to be randomly assigned, why the change of heart?
A: We recognize that COVID-19 has added so much stress for everyone. We’re letting students choose their own teams in hopes that mitigates some of the stress of an already stressful semester.

Q: Where do I find GROUP assessments?! I don’t see them in PrairieLearn!!!!
A: GROUP assessments will first become visible on the day of class they are connected with. They will appear in the corresponding week’s assessment lineup. For example, GROUP01 will appear in Week1 on the first day of class.

Q: The GROUP assessment’s 100% credit ends in 5 minutes. If our team starts the assessment now, will we still get full credit?
A: If you can finish the assessment in 5 minutes! While you have 24 hours to finish the assessment, it is our understanding that the cap for credit is determined by when you finish the assessment. So if you want full credit, please start the assessment well before the end of the full credit period.

Q: How will attendance grades be determined?
A: You must attend within the first 5 minutes of class and attend at least 45 minutes of class. We will use Zoom attendance reports to get this information. Our hope is that most GROUP activities will take less than 1.5 hours.

Q: What happens if I can’t attend class on a given day?
A: We will drop attendance points for 3 classes without an excuse and will provide some optional days throughout the semester. If you need to miss more than three classes for extenuating circumstances (e.g., quarantine, prolonged mental or physical illness, family emergency), please contact the instructor via Campuswire.

Q: What happens if we have an absentee or free-loading team member?
A: 2 options: 1) if a teammate is not participating, you can rate them poorly on your peer review and they will not receive points and 2) around the halfway point in the semester, we will give you the opportunity to change teams around. If there are particularly negative situations, please do not hesitate to contact the course staff to ask for help!

Instructions for accessing GROUP assessments

  1. Go to your assigned zoom room during class time
    • Mon/Wed 9am-10:50am: Room A
    • Mon/Wed 11am-12:50pm: Room B
    • Please attend the regular section for the first class meeting even if you are in a different time zone to start.
    • Stay tuned for a possible third (unofficial) section
  2. Log into PrairieLearn
  3. Prof. Herman will provide a short briefing about the upcoming GROUP assessment. After the briefing, students will be assigned to breakout rooms to work on the GROUP assessment
  4. We will assign all students (randomly at first and then more permanently later) to a breakout room.
  5. Once in your breakout rooms, introduce yourselves!
  6. Open the GROUP assessment Groupwork0.png
  7. If teams have not been pre-assigned, choose one person in your room to make a team (please keep your team names appropriate) Groupwork1.png
  8. That person should share the join Code to the other teammates. Groupwork3.png
  9. Once everyone in the breakout room joins the team, click the “Start Assessment” button.
  10. You should all then see the assessment Groupwork2.png
  11. We strongly recommend having one person share their screen with all teammates and everyone following along with that person. This approach can help keep everyone on the same page and help everyone double check each other’s work to avoid silly mistakes.
  12. If your team gets stuck, use the queue to let us know where you are and we’ll come to you.
  13. Prof. Herman and course staff (Grad TAs and Ugrad CAs) will cycle between rooms, helping teams through the GROUP assessments. If you need extra help, you can request that one of us visit your breakout room through the PrairieLearn Groupwork queue.
  14. This assignment will be in “homework” format where you can keep resubmitting until you get full credit.
  15. We expect most students to finish GROUP assessments in less than 1.5 hours and you will be given 2 hours to complete the assessment. CS 233 is a 4 credit-hour class. There are 2, ~2-hour GROUP activities per week.
  16. Please complete the debrief exercises at the end, to help us know how we can keep improving individual exercises and your experience in future GROUP assessments in general.

GROUP policies (copy and pasted from syllabus)

Initially, all students will be assigned to a team of 3-4 students to work on longer, collaborative assessments in PrairieLearn during class meetings called GROUP assessments. Later, we will provide opportunities for you to choose your team. Each team will receive one instance of the GROUP assessment and all team members will share the same grade on that instance of the assessment. GROUP assessments will help you dive deeper into the course content and prepare you for the lab assignments. Most questions in GROUP assessments will need to be answered only once. It is in your best interest to make sure that all team members agree on the answer and that you check each other’s work before making submissions. Students are expected to start GROUP assessments during class meetings and most are expected to finish them during class time. Teams have up to 24 hours from the time they open the assignment to complete it.

Completion (5% of final grade): Teams will earn 5% of their final grade based on the points they accumulate during the GROUP assessments. Attendance/Participation (2.5% of final grade):