About the ECE 313 Concept Matrix
Rather than turning in problems sets this semester, you will be expected to read the notes and attempt to solve the short answer questions and many of the even numbered problems in the notes. The concepts to be covered each week, along with the sections of the notes you should read to learn about them, and the even numbered problems you should solve, are listed for each week in a table on the main course web page. The solutions to the even numbered problems are included in the appendix of the notes. Solutions will not be collected from you, but you are strongly encouraged to work out the problems on your own; only looking at the solutions when you are truly stuck. Learning how to use probability theory is best done through problem solving.
Making the most of classroom time
The style of classroom instruction will vary somewhat from section to section of the course, but for the most part,
the bulk of the time in the regularly scheduled class sessions will be spent on problem solving in an active learning environment. There will
also be many office hours scheduled. We encourage you to start the required reading and familiarize yourself with
the concepts to be learned for the week before the beginning of the week, and perhaps view some of the
short videos for the material. While we hope you find the videos useful, the videos are not intended to be a
replacement for reading the notes. Typically the videos focus on problem solving, whereas you need
to read the notes for the basic theory that is applied.
Mastering concepts through problem solving and team work
In addition to the quizzes and exams, you will demonstrate your mastery of the concepts in another way. It will be your responsibility to learn and master the concepts through studying the notes, attending lectures and problem solving sessions during scheduled class meetings, solving homework problems (before checking the solutions), attending office hours as needed, and discussing the concepts and problems with your classmates. You will then demonstrate your mastery of the concepts during office hours, through small group question and answer demonstrations with a TA or instructor. You are encouraged to learn the concepts for a given week early in the week, because it will help you on the quiz. However, you can still earn credit for learning concepts up until Wednesday at 7 pm of the following week. The concept matrix itself (see link at the bottom
of this page) indicates which concepts each student (listed by NetID only) has mastered.
In the concept matrix, a “1” in a box in the row after your NetID
indicates that you know a particular concept. A “5” in a box indicates
that you know the concept for that box, and also the
concepts in the four boxes that follow it, That is, a
single entry of 5 is equivalent to 1 1 1 1 1. When the
deadline for a set of concepts has passed, the corresponding
columns in the matrix will be rotated to the end of the
concept matrix file.
TIP: You can save time by demonstrating multiple concepts at one go--often the concepts for a given week are closely related.
While we will try to adjust staffing hours to meet your needs, you might want to avoid lines that may grow shortly before the
deadline for a group of concepts.
The protocol for concept matrix certification is as follows:
Protocol rule 1: Read the notes and learn the concepts,
either on your own or working in study groups. Make use of
Piazza as needed for Q&A. You should know the
concepts before seeking certification. There
isn’t time for TAs and instructors to simultaneously,
individually, teach and certify you on the concepts.
Protocol rule 2: You will be certified in groups of
two, three, or possibly more students. You could
either form a group prior to the office hour, or form
one on the spot at the office hour with other students who
happen to be at the office hour. The students in your group should
ask each other questions to probe each others’ understanding
of the concepts. Please be honest with each other about
which concepts you know. You can take much more time
with each other (such as five to ten minutes per student in
the group) than the TA/instructor could spend with each
of you individually. When a group of students presents
itself for certification to a TA/instructor, every student in the
group should have confidence that every student in the group
knows every concept in the certification request.
Protocol rule 3: When your group gets to the TA/instructor
for certification, hand a slip of paper to the TA/instructor
listing your names, NetIDs, and the concepts to be certified on,
such as “Weeks 1&2 concepts” or “Week 3 concepts” or
“Weeks 1-3 concepts” or “Week 3, first three concepts.”
The TA/instructor will ask questions to one student in your
group at a time about the concepts, spending a total of around
one minute per student in the group. If any student in the
group is found not to know one of the concepts indicated on
the piece of paper, then the entire group will not be certified.
If there are other students waiting, the group would go to the
end of the line. The idea is for each of you to actively be helping
the TA/instructors certify other students.
Participating in groups is an opportunity for
collaboration and improving valuable communication skills.
While it is not an absolute requirement for you to
participate in a group, the course staff will give
priority to groups, because it is only fair to give priority
to groups of students who have each helped in the
certification process by not only learning the concepts
themselves, but in helping certify that others have
The course staff would your help in certifying students
beyond your own group. For example, at a particular office
hour, even if you have already been certified on a group of
concepts, we would be happy to see you participate in another
group of students to help with certification of that group.
You would learn much by explaining concepts to others.