For lab you received a "Lab Lint" sheet listing some seemingly cosmetic, "trivial"
missteps that will result in point loss: things like missing labels on
plot axes or improper number of sigfigs in a final result. Here we list "trivial" missteps
in homework that will result in lost points. (Many of these parallel Lab Lint.)
No name recorded on the first page
Missing unit in final answer.
Incorrect number of sigfigs in a final answer.
The requirement in class is different and simpler than in
lab: always report exactly three sigfigs in a final answer.
It may be useful to record and use four or more sigfigs in intermediate
results to achieve exactly three accurate sigfigs in a final answer.
Illegible/Unreadable (in addition to poor handwriting this includes use of pens/pencils that fail to make high-contrast marks
and/or a general lack of organization)
Homework must include explanations not just final answers...show all steps!!!
A nicely boxed, numerically correct, final answer with no steps or explanation is worth zero points.
The sequence of steps (perhaps with words of explanation) required
to connect the numbers in the problem to the final answer should be plainly recorded.
Based just on what is recorded in your homework, the grader should know what needs to be entered into his
calculator to reproduce the final answer you have recorded. If the grader in unsure how the final answer
was calculated, he has been instructed to take points off. Such point reductions are non-negotiable:
it does not matter if an explanation can be found in somewhere in your homework, if the grader
failed to find it, your work was not sufficiently clear. In short your grade does depend on
how well you present your answer to the grader, not just the final answer.
Modern calculators can often perform what is usually a multi-step process at the click of
a button (e.g., solve simultaneous equations, do vector operations). In such cases simply write
"by calculator" and make clear exactly what information was entered into the calculator.
Just as in lab, a diagram is often required for the explanation to make sense.
Sometimes you can identify a quantity just by using the usual symbol and units.
F = 4.56 N
is clearly identified as a force. But if there are several quantities of the same type, you must
somehow identify which is which to the grader... a diagram (with labels) often helps.
Angles almost always require a diagram displaying which angle is being
reported. Absent a diagram the grader assumes angles are measured counterclockwise from the positive
x-axis. For example, the negative y-axis might be reported as
-90° or 270°, but (without a diagram) +90° is wrong.
Your homework, like your lab notebook, should pass the "shake test". Individual sheets must be
firmly attached, preferably with a staple, never just "dog eared" together.
If you turn in problems on paper torn out of a spiral notebook, please trim the edges.