Thur, 12th Nov 2015, 04:18 Email I got tonight

My students,

I received about a half dozen emails tonight from students who are
panicing for fear they will fail EE 306 after taking today's exam.
I realize that there are probably many others who are panicing who
did not send me email.  So, I decided I should send you all email
to try to stop what is in almost all cases an unwarranted fear that
you are failing EE 306.

Most of you took seriously the wake up call from the first exam and
have been doing all the right things as far as studying goes.  Working
hard to understand and not simply to memorize.  ...and although you are
understanding things better now, many of you came out of today's exam
afraid you did not do good enough.

You looked at Problems 4 and 5 and could not do them.  I understand.
They were challenging problems.  I could have given you a mickey mouse
exam that everyone could get 100% on.  But if I did, I would not be
doing you any favors.  I don't want you to simply feel good about yourself
but not have the tools you need to go forward.  I want each of you to
develop the strongest foundation possible that will properly start you
on the road of the next 3 1/2 years of courses, followed by a lifetime
as an engineer if you choose to go that route.  To do that, I need to
give you challenging problems to solve.

But in so doing it appears that I have hurt the self-confidence of a lot
of you, and that was not my intent.  Most of you are good, and most of
you will succeed.  It is already the case that many of you who did poorly
on Exam 1 are now able to work the problems on that exam with ease.
And it will be the case that you will be able to work Problems 4 and 5
of the exam you took today before too long.  Some of you will "get it"
quicker than others.  But most of you are getting it a lot better than
you realize.

Although I will continue to challenge you as long as we are together, you
also need to know what it will take to earn a passing grade in EE 306.
Several years ago, I decided to split the final exam in EE 306 in two parts,
Part A and Part B.  Part B is like Problems 4 and 5 on today's exam.
The problems are very challenging.  But Part A is not as challenging.
It is what I feel you must master in order to move on to EE 319K in the
Spring.  Please look at Part A of the final exams of the last three times
I taught EE 306: in 2013, 2011, and 2009.  It will give you a sense of
what I expect you to master to move on to EE 319K in the Spring.  If, by
the final exam, you can do the problems in Part A and have shown reasonable
work on the programming labs, you will earn a passing grade in 306.

Just to be sure we are on the same page: As far as passing the course goes,
which means being ready to handle 319K in the Spring, I will only look at
Part A and your programs.  I told you on the first day of class that I care
much less about where you are in the middle of the semester, and much more
about what you have mastered by the end of the semester.  I will still give
you challenging problems to solve, and I will still hope that even though
you can't solve them when you first see them, you will be able to as time
goes by.  But to earn the lowest passing grade in EE306, Part A of the final
exam and how much of the programming you have mastered will be enough.

So this is not the time to panic.  I hope it is the time to continue to
be doing what the wake-up call got you started doing.

Good luck with the rest of the semester.

Yale Patt