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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in CSW 8

Hello and welcome to CSW 8!

Below are a few notes that can help you get oriented in the course and address a few commonly asked questions.

Please read the Syllabus first.

Table of contents

  1. Administrative
    1. Is CS 8 and CSW 8 different? Does this course count the same as CS 8?
    2. Is CSW 8 going to be asynchronous?
    3. I am enrolled in another class that conflicts with CSW 8. Is it a problem?
    4. Do labs happen during the section time?
    5. How do we check when our lab is?
    6. Can I change/switch my lab section?
    7. Are lab activities and lab sessions not the same thing?
    8. What is the “Wednesday lab participation” score in gradebook?
  2. zyBooks
    1. Is the reading done on zybooks?
    2. Where do I find the zyBooks code to subscribe to the book?
    3. Do I have to buy the book if I am re-taking the class?
    4. How do I update my student ID in zyBooks?
    5. Is there an option for students who cannot currently afford the zybook subscription? Can I defer the purchase of the zyBook?
    6. What do the PA, CA and LA mean on the zybook, where are they found? How do I know when they are completed?
    7. How can we know our progress on zyBooks?
    8. How many chances do we have for each question on zybooks?
    9. Should we wait to work on zybooks during lab?
    10. Is the work in zyBooks graded for completion or accuracy?
    11. Will we be tested on material in “optional” labs?
    12. How do I turn on syntax highlighting in zyLabs?
  3. Accounts
    1. Is Piazza used for questions about the material and clarification on the lectures?
    2. Is there a code for Piazza?
    3. I do not see CSW 8 course on Gradescope and/or Piazza. What can I do?
  4. Gradescope
    1. How many chances do we have to submit on Gradescope?
    2. If we submit our labs onto Gradescope multiple times, will the newest version be the one graded?
  5. Course Components
    1. Where do I find slides and/or class/lab recordings?
    2. Do we have to download python for this class?
    3. What will the reflection be like and how long do they take?
    4. Where do I find the weekly reflections?
    5. Is the reflection graded on completion?
    6. How many quizzes will there be each week?
    7. I missed a quiz/an in-class activity/a deadline. What do I do?
  6. Weekly Pattern and Planning Your Work
    1. Due Dates
    2. Quizzes
    3. Attendance
    4. Getting Help
      1. How do I send a direct message to TAs or professor?
      2. “Help! I’m lost!” - How to ask for help when you don’t know what to ask
    5. Communication
      1. I have a question that has not been addressed here. What should I do?

Administrative

Is CS 8 and CSW 8 different? Does this course count the same as CS 8?

Content-wise this is the same course, the “W” in the title indicates that the course is on the Web, i.e., online. Both courses count as the same course.

Is CSW 8 going to be asynchronous?

Based on the feedback from students last year as well as our experience with remote and asynchronous learning, we decided to make CSW 8 synchronous. See the “Attendance” section below for more information.

That being said, to help you learn and review the material, we plan to record the main portions of the in-class explanations, announcements, demos, etc. and will post it before the end of that day.

I am enrolled in another class that conflicts with CSW 8. Is it a problem?

Please see the answer above and the “Attendance” section below for more information.

Do labs happen during the section time?

Yes, the Wednesday section time that you are enrolled in is the lab time.

How do we check when our lab is?

Related question:

  • which class section do I attend?

Check your schedule on GOLD.

Can I change/switch my lab section?

Yes, you are welcome to attend whichever lab section works with your schedule. No need to get a new add code and switch it on GOLD. Just make sure that when you are registering for your zyBook, you select the section that you are going to be attending.

Are lab activities and lab sessions not the same thing?

We refer to the Wednesday lab section times as lab sessions. The lab activities (LAs) that you complete in zyBooks are different from the session times, since they refer to the lab assignments posted in zyBooks.

What is the “Wednesday lab participation” score in gradebook?

Related question:

  • What does “Lab Participation” refer to on the schedule?

This grade item is supposed to capture your participation during the lab session. We expect that you will be working on the breakout room activities during the labs, and we expect that before the lab sessions are over you will make enough progress to pass at least one lab test in order to receive full credit for your participation. Remember to “Submit” your code in order to see how many and which tests are passing.

Note that you do not need to completely finish the breakout room lab on Wednesday: it needs to be completed and be correct before the hard deadline the week after the labs for that week are released.


zyBooks

Is the reading done on zybooks?

Yes, zybooks is our “textbook.”

Where do I find the zyBooks code to subscribe to the book?

The access/enrollment code is posted on Gauchospace.

Do I have to buy the book if I am re-taking the class?

Contact support@zybooks.com and let them know that you are retaking the course: they should be able to waive your fee.

How do I update my student ID in zyBooks?

You can do it from the My Subscription tab, which you can access from the main zyBooks page that lists all chapters. See the instructions / screenshot posted on Gauchospace.

Is there an option for students who cannot currently afford the zybook subscription? Can I defer the purchase of the zyBook?

Below is the information from the zyBook support staff:

Yes, we can accommodate such requests students make! What your student will need to do is follow the directions in Does zyBooks offer temporary subscriptions? to request a four-week temporary subscription. Once approved, they can begin working on their assignments without any issue and can also provide payment at any time to access the book for the remainder of the term.

You can also use the same link to request a two-week free trial of the zyBook subscription if you are unsure if you will stay in the course.

What do the PA, CA and LA mean on the zybook, where are they found? How do I know when they are completed?

  • Participation Activities (PAs)
  • Challenge Activities (CAs)
  • Lab Activities (LAs)

PAs, CAs, LAs, are all found inside the respective sections of the zyBook for this course.

There’s no need to submit the activities anywhere else, just complete them in zyBooks.

  • For PAs and CAs, you will see a checkmark to the right of the title for that activity, once the activity has been properly completed.
  • For LAs, you will see the score for how many tests for correctness of that lab have passed. Once you see 100%, you have effectively completed that lab.

Note that after you complete the PAs, zyBook will remove your answers, which is supposed to help you come back and review.

How can we know our progress on zyBooks?

You can also see the overall completion of each of the zyBook activities when you are on the main page of the zyBook (the view that lists all chapters and their sections), which you can get to by clicking on the main title of the book CMPSCW 8: Introduction to Computer... at the top of the page, after My library.

✨ Pro Tip✨ : We recommend spending no more than 2 hours in a row reading through the sections and completing the activities in zyBooks. Your brain will get tired and will need a break. Trust us: even your prof cannot meaningfully work through this material for more than 2 hours, so save yourself some time and allow for at least a 30-minute break between the study sessions.

How many chances do we have for each question on zybooks?

Related questions:

  • How many attempts do I have to submit zyBook activities?
  • Do we have unlimited attempts to submit our labs?

You have unlimited attempts. You can also work on the problems after the deadline, but your progress will not count toward your score.

Should we wait to work on zybooks during lab?

No, we recommend getting started on them as soon as you can, since we plan to release them at least a day early, so you can come prepared with questions.

Note that you won’t be solving all labs during the lab session time. That time is dedicated to the specific breakout room activities, so you need to complete the rest of the labs on your own time, before the deadline.

Is the work in zyBooks graded for completion or accuracy?

During the lab section, the breakout room activities are graded for completing enough code to pass at least one test. Afterward, just like the rest of the zybook activites, they are graded for accuracy.

Will we be tested on material in “optional” labs?

No, the materials from those sections will not be on the main quiz. However, we might include it on the practice quiz.

How do I turn on syntax highlighting in zyLabs?

Related question:

  • how do I get color-coding in zyLabs?

In accessibility mode, zyBook replaces the rich text code editor with a plain text editor to make the text be more compatible with common screen readers.

You can turn on/off the accessibility feature on the “My subscription” tab of the zyBook.


Accounts

Is Piazza used for questions about the material and clarification on the lectures?

Yes, this is our main communication platform. Guidelines for how to use it are in the Syllabus and in the Posting Guidelines note on Piazza itself. See more information in the “Getting Help” and the “Communication” section below.

Is there a code for Piazza?

No need to enter any code. Make sure that you create your account using your @umail.ucsb.edu address (not @ucsb.edu).

Note: As was mentioned in the Welcome Email sent from Gauchospace (“Warm welcome to CSW 8 (W22)!”), you will receive an email about being added to Piazza on Tuesday evening, after the first lecture, once we close the waitlist.

I do not see CSW 8 course on Gradescope and/or Piazza. What can I do?

Make sure that you create your account using your @umail.ucsb.edu address (not @ucsb.edu).

You might need to go through the activation link in the email sent to you by Gradescope/Piazza.

If you have multiple accounts on Piazza with different email addresses, you can add them to you account to merge the accounts:

  • (using the browser on the computer), Click the cogwheel in the upper-right corner of the window (to the right of your name)
  • select “Account/Email Settings
  • add your email under “Other emails”.

Gradescope

How many chances do we have to submit on Gradescope?

Related questions:

  • Do we have unlimited attempts to submit our labs on Gradescope?

Yes, you have unlimited attempts before the deadline. You won’t be able to submit to Gradescope after the deadline has passed.

We recommend to submit your code to Gradescope periodically to backup your submissions.

If we submit our labs onto Gradescope multiple times, will the newest version be the one graded?

Yes, your latest submission will be the one that’s used for grading, unless you activate a different submission.


Course Components

Where do I find slides and/or class/lab recordings?

The slides and the recordings are linked on Gauchospace. Look for the playback icon ⏩.

Do we have to download python for this class?

Yes. We will spend the first couple of weeks working within zyBooks and then we will ask you to Download the latest version from python.org.

What will the reflection be like and how long do they take?

The reflection usually shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to complete. The questions will vary each week but there will always be an open-ended question for any feedback/thoughts that you’d like to share. It’s a low-stress way to take a look at the past week and the activities for the future week and assess how things are going and what you are learning.

Where do I find the weekly reflections?

They will normally be posted on Gauchospace on Thursday, around 1pm. This quarter, we will administer them as a google form.

Is the reflection graded on completion?

Yes, as long as you submit it, you will receive credit.

How many quizzes will there be each week?

There will be at least one practice quiz, which doesn’t count toward your grade because it is just for practice, and one to two graded pop-quizzes. See additional notes in the “Quizzes” section below.

I missed a quiz/an in-class activity/a deadline. What do I do?

Since we do not offer any make-up quizzes/assignments, the Syllabus outlines our lowest quiz score drop policy to account for any unexpected situations. In those cases, nothing can be done apart from simply using the “drop the lowest grades” option, which is applied automatically in the Gauchospace gradebook.

Please, don’t contact us about it unless you have a documented emergency or a documented, official exception paperwork (e.g., a letter from your sports coach with the tournament dates). For the university-endored exception, post a direct note to the Instructors on the forum.

In cases of documented emergency, please, email directly to the professor and provide the documentation that shows your name, the reason, and the date of the incident.

See the Due Dates section below for more information about the extension for the zyBooks activities.

Weekly Pattern and Planning Your Work

Due Dates

This course has a consistent weekly pattern to help you manage your workload and help you set a consistent schedule for this class. Set those dates and reminders on your calendar to proactively keep track of the assignments yourself.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are when the zyBooks activities are expected to be completed. We recommend treating them as hard deadlines and finishing your work in zyBooks before those recommended times. In-class quizzes and activities will assume that you have completed the materials. However, in order to provide extra flexibility, we will collect the scores for the respective activities on Sundays at 9pm.

If you know in advance that you will not be able to complete the activities before Sunday, you can submit a request for an extension. See the Syllabus for more information and for the link to the form.

Quizzes

You should attend every class, ready to take a quiz. We will periodically have unannounced pop-quizzes, which will always be posted on Gauchospace: they will usually be 10-15 minutes and will cover the material that you were supposed to read and work with up to that week. They are intended for you to check how well you are following the explanations in zyBooks, and some questions will be similar to the PAs, CAs, and LAs in the book. Quizzes are supposed to be done individually and are meant to ensure that you are keeping up with the reading and are able to use course concepts.

Quizzes will vary in style: they will always start on Gauchospace but sometimes, the quiz will redirect you to Gradescope, after randomly assigning you a quiz version.

  • The quiz on Gauchospace is going to consist of randomly selected multiple-choice and short-answer questions, which will check your understanding of the reading, similar to the PAs and CAs in the book.
  • The quiz on Gradescope is going to ask you to write code, similar to the CAs and LAs in the book.

✨ Pro Tip✨ : We recommend reading through the sections and completing PAs as you read. After you finished reading the chapter, come back to complete the CAs in each section. If possible, finish most CAs by Wednesday, which will prepare you for the labs.

After the quiz grades have been posted, you will be able to review them with the mentors: if you got something wrong on the quiz, make sure that you understand what the correct answer is supposed to be and why. Quiz questions from previous weeks might show up on the future quizzes to give you a chance to get them right next time you see the same scenario.

Attendance

Synchronous class time and lab section attendance are required. We will have quizzes and participation activities during the scheduled class, so having a conflict with another class/activity might jeopardize your ability to participate and affect your grade.

Whenever possible/reasonable, we will record those sessions and post them on Gauchospace (under that Week’s tab) for you to review/refer to them. These recordings are not a substitute for your participation.

If the lab section that you are registered for conflicts with your schedule, feel free to attend the section that works for you (there’s no need to make any changes on GOLD). When registering for zyBooks, select the lab section that you plan to attend.

Getting Help

Please, do not email us directly. Direct emails, especially without the “CSW 8” in the subject, might not be answered.

To make sure that you can always get your questions answered, we have multiple ways for you to reach the instructor and our course mentors.

Below are the main ways for you to ask for help (from fastest to slowest response times). Note that we do not check or respond to messages over the weekend, so please plan accordingly.

  • class time and lab sessions are the dedicated synchronous times when you can (and should!) ask questions.

  • Prof. K can stay right after class and can also meet with you by appointment: you can book a meeting through a link posted on the office hours page or send a message to the Instructors on the forum, requesting to meet at a specific time.

  • we have synchronous Zoom office hours every day Monday through Friday in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings.

  • we have an online Q&A forum, Piazza: post your questions there (you can do so anonymously) and your classmates can help answer it, otherwise, we will try to respond within 36 hours.
    • Please, follow the posted forum guidelines (a pinned post) to make it easier for us to respond.
    • We cannot quarantee that last-minute posts before a deadline would receive a timely response, so please start early and plan your work accordingly.
  • we have a fully-anonymous form where you can ask questions or send your suggestions: https://forms.gle/jobjhJjWXsmcV3pp6

How do I send a direct message to TAs or professor?

Please contact us via Piazza. Read the pinned post there titled Posting Guidelines, which describes how to submit a direct message to the Instrutors.

“Help! I’m lost!” - How to ask for help when you don’t know what to ask

Sometimes, it can be difficult to formulate a question if you are not sure of what’s confusing you.

In cases when you are not sure what to ask, go ahead and ask “Can you please show another example of X?”, where X is something that you are not fully understanding or would like to see explained again. For example, you might ask something like “Can you please show an example of how to use a for loop with a range?”

The idea here is that by working through an example, you might be able to catch what’s confusing you and ask a follow-up or a clarifying question. Hopefully, the example itself will be sufficient to help you feel more comfortable with this concept. After seeing the example, try to vary the condition to see how well you are able to follow the explanation. For instance, after seeing an example for your initial question, modify the result to check if you can now write a for loop using the range to generate a sequence of odd numbers, of even numbers, of even numbers that start at 10, etc.

See additional notes in the “How to Succeed in CSW 8” resource on how to get/ask for help.

Communication

We will use the corresponding “Week” tabs on Gauchospace as the main communication mechanism in this course. For your convenience, we plan to keep the Calendar on this site updated as well but Gauchospace is still considered the main and official source of information.

This should be your first place to check if you have a question. If you don’t find the answer there, then search through the posts on the forum to see if your question has been answered there. We ask that you do not email the Mentors directly and instead use the forum message that can be addressed directly to the instructors/TAs!

It is your responsibility to make sure that you check and keep up with the information that we post. We hope that you will also participate in the exchanges on the forum and help us create a supportive and collaborative environment where everyone is comfortable asking questions and experimenting with the powerful programming concepts that we will be using in this class.

As mentioned in the syllabus, you should use the forum for all course-related questions, however, if you ever need to send the professor a direct email with the required documentation, make sure to include “CSW8” in the subject, and if there is a follow-up, keep it in the same email thread (i.e., use “Reply” instead of starting a separate email). Due to a large volume of emails, if you do not follow these guidelines, your email might not be even seen.


I have a question that has not been addressed here. What should I do?

Use any of the mechanisms described above in the Getting Help section to submit your query.