INFO/STS 4240: Assignments

Assignments Overview

All homework assignments will be submitted through the on-line Course Management System. If you log in and do not see our course listed, please contact Leo at lk423 @ or as a private message to the course instructors on piazza and request to be added to CMS.


The foundation for your work in this class are the course readings, which contain the core course content. You are expected to have thoughtfully read the day's reading prior to coming to class and taken notes on ideas in the reading and your thoughts in response. Course reading varies considerably in discipline and difficulty; be aware that reading length does not greatly correlate to expected reading time. You should bring the readings and your notes to class to ground our discussions.

Design responses

Over the course of the semester, you will document your thoughts and ideas in response to the readings in the form of design responses. These are both informal documents. A design response identifies a specific idea from the reading that caught your attention, and exploring its implications through a rough design sketch, annotated with thoughts about how the design relates to, extends, challenges, or otherwise explores the idea you chose to respond to. Every Sunday starting Sept 17, you will submit responses to your choice of 2 of the upcoming week's readings; on weeks where there is only one class, you only need to submit one response. You should expect each design response to take about 20-30 minutes to execute.

In the first unit of the course, we will build up to full design responses through predesign responses, in which you identify and respond to an idea of your choice from the text in simple written form. You will also hand in predesign responses rather than full design responses on weeks when you have a miniproject due.

Class participation

Your participation in class is not directly graded, but it is essential to your success in the course. This is not a lecture course; the class format is interactive and activities-based. In class we will analyze, build on, and debate about the course readings; practice design skills; work on homeworks; and engage in other activities to aid your facility in the course material. If you miss class, you are strongly recommended to review not only the class slides (which are often minimalist) but also notes from one of your co-students.


Over the course of the semester, we will have at least 5 unscheduled, brief pop quizzes randomly scheduled attendance taken in class. The purpose of these quizzes is to reward (a) attendance, (b) doing the readings ahead of time, and (c) paying attention in lecture. If you come to class having read through the readings and don't zone out, you can expect to do very well on these. Your lowest grade on the quizzes is dropped. This is done because we cover material in lectures and through exercises that is not available through any other means. Your attendance will be scaled so that an average score of 80 per cent on attendance will translate to a grade of A+

Design mini-projects

Over the course of the semester, you will have 5 design mini-projects which will help you develop facility in the design methods we are learning about in the course. For example, you may develop a design activity, try it out in class on your classmates, and then document the results.

Final exam

The final exam will be a written exam involving a critically engaged design analysis and exploration on an assigned topic in current events. The exam, minus the topic, will be released in November so that you can prepare for it.

Grade breakdown

Grading is not just a matter of numbers, but also of judgment. The instructor reserves the right to adjust grades by up to half a letter grade based on knowledge of your performance not summed up in this tidy formula.

Academic Integrity

My expectation is that you are generally aware of the need for academic integrity and self-motivated to achieve it. Issues with academic integrity that have come up in my courses in the past have been frequently due to students being unaware of the specific requirements of academic integrity at Cornell, rather than students trying to "game the system" for their own advantage. Some examples of situations I have encountered include:

I am required by the university to prosecute for such violations; doing so is particularly sad because they could have been avoided with a bit of pro-active education. I would therefore strongly encourage you to take Cornell's (brief) on-line tutorial on how to avoid unintentional plagiarism if you have not done so already. I particularly encourage this for students whose prior primary education was at a non-US institution as well as students who come from a substantially different disciplinary orientation than the sciences, social sciences, and humanities (e.g. art, journalism, law). You are responsible for understanding what constitutes academic integrity violations in Arts and Sciences at Cornell. Please contact me if you have any questions about how to achieve academic integrity in the context of this class (e.g., proper use of citations).