Assessment and Evaluation#

This is a university course, and so you will receive a grade at the end of it. This grade is meant to reflect the quality of your work and how well you met the learning objectives of the course.

Although they may seem like similar concepts, there is an important difference between “assessment” and “evaluation” Conrad and Openo [CO18]. Formally, assessment refers to ongoing feedback from the teaching team, your peers, and your own self-assessment of your performance. The goal of assessment is to help you learn, and improve your performance. For this reason it is often called formative — as in, helping to “form” and shape a better you.

Conversely, evaluation is summative — it is intended to “sum up” your performance in the course, and is used to determine your course grade. Whereas assessment is intended to be an ongoing process, evaluation is a judgement applied when you have completed a set of work designed to evaluate your learning (such as an assignment or project). Evaluations represent a judgement by the teaching team of how well you met the objectives of the assignment or project.

This course includes a number of formative assessments and summative evaluations. Formative assessments include DataCamp lessons, quizzes, self-assessments, and peer assessments. Summative evaluations include assignments and projects. Notably, both contribute to your final grade, but the majority of your grade is based on evaluations, whereas a smaller proportion of your grade is based on assessments. This is because assessments are intended to support and prepare you for evaluations — assessments are “training camp”, and evaluations are the “big games”.


As with any course, there are deadlines for submitting work. Deadlines exist for a few reasons. For one, they are designed to keep you on track; the work in this course is cumulative, and largely entails learning how to do things (rather than memorizing knowledge for later regurgitation) — so if you fall behind, it will be increasingly hard to catch up. As well, formative assessments are only useful in supporting continuous development if they are short, frequent, and timely. If they don’t happen on time, they just don’t happen because if they’re late they’re usually not useful, and/or another formative piece is already due.

Due dates are also part of this courses’ emulation of professional working environments: in the real world, projects have deadlines and meeting this is usually critical to the ongoing success and reputation of the organization. Deadlines also respect the time of the teaching team who have to evaluate your work. Doing this is much easier in “batch” mode, meaning that late work is disproportionately time-consuming (and frankly, annoying) to grade.

At the same time, it is recognized that over the many weeks of a course, life happens, sometimes in ways that interfere with completing work. For this reason, evaluation components have some flexibility built into them, for example allowing you to choose which assignment scores you want to contribute to your final grade (within limits; see syllabus). As well, assignments with due dates have a late policy of deducting 1% from the final grade per hour that the assignment is late; this is meant to encourage timeliness, but impose relatively little penalty for “almost on time” work or last-minute hiccups.