About the ECE 313 Concept Matrix

Summer 2014


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, 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 half 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

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 5 pm on the day after quizzes. 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:

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 learned them.

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.

What if you are not available or interested in getting certified for a concept?

In order to accommodate a broad range of learning styles, the following grading policy will be implemented. As mentioned above, if you are certified for a given concept by the deadline you get one point for that concept. There are 50 concepts for the semester. If you do not get certified for a concept, instead of assigning one point for that concept, we will assign the weighted average of your quiz and exam scores for that concept instead. Here are some examples to help explain what this means. Let A denote your average weighted percent score for the quizzes and exams (A=[30*(quiz percentage score)+15*(exam 1 percentage score) + 15*(exam 2 percentage score) + 30*(final exam percentage score)]/90. Based on past experience, usual the average or mean value of A across the class is 70%. Strong students may have A values in the 80-95% range. A low C student might have A value around 60%.