One of my experiments in teaching this quarter was to have a quiz the second week of class on material that I considered so basic, that if you couldn’t do very well on the quiz, well, you may well consider (re-)taking the undergrad algorithms course first. A few students with lower scores on the quiz did decide to drop the class. Well, term is over now and I can see how good an indicator this quiz was.
Shown below are the student grades on the midterm and final (y-axis, midterm ‘o’ and final ‘*’) vs the quiz score (z-axis) – plots are linear. The brighter the shade of green for the vertical bar connecting a students exam scores, the higher the final grade for the student. While there are a few outliers, I think that I wasn’t wrong in saying that a low score on the quiz may indicate that you aren’t ready for grad algorithms. What you can’t see as well here is that the midterm scores were quite linear with the quiz – not as surprising as the midterm covered material that I would expect starting CS grad students to know anyway.
So I’ll probably do this again next year. I’m better informed though. I’d like to include a few harder questions to give a better indication of mathematical maturity than this year’s version provided. My goal? A perfect indicator, so that I can skip all forms of evaluation and simply assign the students a grade based on the first quiz.