D. Nixon: CS 12 > Week 13

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Computer Science 12


Week 13




Sunday, May 10, 2019



Extra-credit assignments and postponed due dates

Deadline extended for extra-credit assignments:

You may still do the following extra-credit assignments:

  1. Week 8 Excel extra-credit assignments (project due Friday, May 22, 2020, no later than 6:00 PM)
  2. Week 9 Extra-credit project proposals (preliminary email due before final exam; project itself due Friday, May 22, 2020, no later than 6:00 PM; project MUST NOT be submitted without preliminary email due before final exam).

Deadline extended for Assignment 12:

The deadline for the assignment 12 versions of the Problem-solving paper, final version and the PowerPoint presentation, final version has been extended to Friday, May 22, 2020, no later than 6:00 PM. If there are also other, previous drafts you have not yet done, please try to get them done well before the above extended deadline, so you can get feedback on them before submitting your final version.

Practice with Microsoft Word's Mail Merge:

You will not be asked to submit an assignment using Mail Merge. But you should practice with it enough to make sure you understand what it is and how to use it.


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Tutorials on Microsoft Word (Mail Merge)

Mail merge:

Also, when running Word, press [F1] for help.


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Tutorial on computer basics (general)

Some basics of how computers work, by Marcas Neal and D. Nixon.


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Grading scheme update (from earlier email)

Update to grading scheme

The following was sent to students via email in late April 2020.

In mid-March, during the transition between in-person and online classes, I announced that I would be modifying the grading scheme to place less weight on the final exam and more weight on class participation. I never quantified this, however, being too preoccupied with other aspects of the transition.

The grading scheme originally announced at the beginning of the semester gave the final exam a weight of at least 35% of the total grade. This doesn't make sense for an online course. To cut the weight of the final exam down to 20%, I will be doing the following:

1) The final versions of the problem-solving paper and the PowerPoint slideshow, which will be assigned on Sunday, May 3, will now (especially the paper) have a higher weight than they were given in the initial grading scheme. The problem-solving paper will now be worth 12% of your final score, and the PowerPoint slideshow will now be worth 6% of your final score. Neither of these assignments will require you to do anything new, but just to make corrections in light of feedback on previous versions. (In the event that you haven't done the previous versions but have shown evidence of being able to pass the course otherwise, you may request an incomplete grade if necessary to give you a few extra weeks to do these assignments after the end of the semester; you can then receive your final completed grade a few weeks late..)

2) "Class participation," as I announced in March, is no longer just extra credit (as in the previous grading scheme) but a part of the grade itself. Because I didn't quantify this earlier (although I've mentioned it repeatedly in emails and chat), it will now be just 5% of the grade (I would have preferred to make it 10% and thus further reduce the relative weight of the final exam down to 15% of the total score.) Class participation means not just showing up but being actively engaged, e.g. by asking and answering questions at least occasionally during each online class session. If you have NOT participated much in the past, you must do so during the remaining two regular class sessions on May 3 and May 10, and you may also make up for previous lack of participation via the optional Thursday evening chats (of which there will be one this evening, April 30).

So the grading scheme is now:

~ 20% final exam.

~ 30% quizzes (both the paper quizzes and the online quizzes).

~ 12% final version of the paper on problem-solving.

~ 6% final version of the PowerPoint slideshow.

~ 27% all other homework.

~ 5% class participation.


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Study guide for the final exam

The final exam will be given on Sunday, May 17.

As agreed to in class, the final exam will be given at 3:00 PM, rather than our usual class time of 1:00 PM. At 1:00 PM there will be a last-minute question-and-answer session.

The final exam will cover all the material covered on all the quizzes, plus a few other matters mentioned in previous quiz study guides though they did not appear on the actual quizzes themselves, plus new material covered this week. The final exam will have more short-answer essay questions than the quizzes did, although the final exam will also have Excel formula problems and fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice questions similar to the quizzes. At least 50% of the final exam will consist of problems very similar (in both subject matter and type of problem) to those on the quizzes (especially the quizzes given during the latter half of the semester). At most 10% will deal with new material covered this week.

The new material covered this week pertains to Microsoft Word's Mail Merge feature. The questions on this topic will be either fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice.

Regarding Mail Merge, make sure you understand what Mail Merge is, what it does, how to use it, and how Mail Merge uses a single-table database, typically an "address book." For example, you should know that, in a form letter created via mail merge, the special blanks that get automatically filled in from the address book (or other database table) are called "fields," and you shoukd know that each Mail Merge field gets filled in from the corresponding field of the database table. Also, you should know that each personalized copy of the form letter is filled in from a record in the database table.

To prepare for the remainder of the exam, review all your past quizzes (or at least the ones from tha latter part of the semester) and review everything else you were asked to review in all the quiz study guides (including the ones from earlier in the semester).

About Excel:  Approximately half the exam wil likely consist of Excel spreadsheet problems. If you've been having difficulty with the Excel problems on the quizzes, it is strongly recommeded that you re-read various tutorials on problem-solving skills (including the Week 1 tutorials on math word problems, the Week 5 tutorials on Excel including problem-solving with multiple IF functions, and the Week 5 tutorials on algorithmic problem-solving skills) and apply some of those methods to the Excel problems on your old quizzes. DON'T just look at the correct answers I gave you, but try, first, to solve the problems yourself again, WITHOUT looking at the corrected answers, but using problem-solving methodology. In addition to reading the problem-solving tutorials, you should also review your notes on the Excel functions we covered in class and review your homework and the feedback you recieved on it. Then try to solve the old quiz problems yourself, and only THEN look at the corrected answers.

Regarding the tutorial on Some basics of how computers work:

  1. Any of the bolded or underlined words, anywhere in the tutorial, is fair game for a fill-in-the-blanks or multiple-choice question.
  2. Make sure you understand what binary numbers are and their role in computers. There may be a few number-base conversion problems (binary to and from decimal, binary to and from hexadecimal).
  3. You will be expected to understand the basics of RGB color codes, and to recognize (or be easily able to look up) the hexadecimal RGB codes for the specific colors listed in the tutorial.
  4. Make sure you understand the differences between primary and secondary storage.
  5. Make sure you understand what "Moore's Law" is and why it has been slowing down lately.
  6. Make sure you understand what "buses" (the "system bus" and its component "buses") and a "motherboard" are on a computer.

You should also review the tutorial on The components of most websites. In that tutorial, every word in bold italics is fair game for a fill-in-the-blanks question. There will likely be some multiple-choice questions on other aspects of the tutorial. Among other things, know the difference between static and dynamic content, and between front end and back end. Know which languages are programming languages and which are not, and know which languages are (primarily) front end languages and which are (primarily) back end languages.

About data types:  You will be expected to understand the concept of data types, as we encountered them both on the machine level (see the sections on binary representations of various kinds of data in the tutorial on Some basics of how computers work) and on a higher software level in Excel and Access.

In particular, make sure you understand the ways we used strings (text values). Know what string concatentation is and how we used it both in Excel and Scratch, and make sure you understand the use of special characters in criteria for the COUNTIF, SUMIF, and AVERAGEIF functions in Excel. Also, make sure you understand the difference between a number and the string representation of that number.

Also, make sure you understand Excel logical values, as we used them with the IF, AND, and OR functions. Make sure you understand both their similarities to and their differences from the criteria used in the COUNTIF, SUMIF, and AVERAGEIF functions.

About various other topics:  You will be expected to answer questions about database terminology. You will be expected to write the HTML for a very simple web page, as in the quiz problem. You will be expected to understand Unix file permissions as we used them in WinSCP or FileZilla. You will be expected to answer a few questions about any of the Microsoft Word features we covered in class (and/or that you were specifically required to use in Draft 4 of the paper), and about Wordpress. There will likely also be some questions about Scratch, based on things we did in the Scratch homework assignments and based on various aspects of Scratch we discussed in class (e.g. its logical and comparison operators, and vector vs. bitmap graphics). Questions on all these topics may include short-answer essay questions as well as fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice.


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D. Nixon: CS 12 > Week 13