PL: About PLQWhat are these PLQs?

How does the PLQ thing work?

The format of the PLQ questions is to have N quick questions in each lecture (hopefully around 3 or more). You will use the PLQ app (on your phone or laptop) to submit an answer. Questions vary from short to extremely short, and the subject is either from the current lecture material or from the last one.

The goal is to have enough data to take the place of a traditional exam as the main way of evaluating your performance. The average numbers tend to be similar to those of on exam, and having a lower average on them compared to your homework grades is as common as it is in the case of an exam.

Since this is replacing the role of an exam, you should be prepared for it: make sure you pay attention to your overall numbers. However, there are going to be many questions throughout the semester, so there’s is no need to stress about each and every PLQ as you do in exams. (See the next section.)

Why you should not be stressed about it

While the PLQ is our exam substitute, making it as important as exams, do not make the mistake of stressing over it as you do for an exam. The main difference is that this is taken in tiny chunks throughout the semester. There are a few important things to learn about the format to avoid stressing about the PLQs:

And as usual, when in doubt, see me at office hours or schedule a meeting. I will go over the numbers with you and give your my interpretation and impression.

Avoiding stress

People are often too stressed about their PLQ performance. See the “stress” question in the FAQ.

Suggesting PLQ questions

If you think that your PLQ performance (or your overall performance) is too bad, or if you just want to learn the material better, you should consider making a PLQ Suggestion.

The idea is to give the students some more control over the questions that are asked on the PLQs. This is intended for two main reasons: first, it prevents questions that we think should be reasonable but turn out to be harder than usual (maybe because some subject wasn’t explained properly), and second, if you do make such suggestions, it will generally be a good way to boost your overall performance. As further motivation to suggest questions, karma cookies are given for suggested questions (at a value that corresponds to how good it is).

When you think about a question, please keep in mind the style of questions so far, what you like and don’t like about them. Keep in mind the considerations and preferences of other students too — for example, most students prefer a question about the material from the last class. (But you can also suggest a question about the upcoming class if you go over the material in advance.)

Please include a few options for answers too, including the right one (or the one you think is correct). If it’s a question that you want to ask but don’t know the answer to then that’s fine to: if it’s a good question it’ll get included and we will come up with the answer(s). You can also meet me at office hours and we can go over it together. Also, feel free to include comments like the purpose of the question (e.g., a recap-style question), or maybe a note that it’s a question that sound good to you but you think that it’s too hard as-is and maybe we can manage to water it down a bit, or any other notes you might have on it.

Also, of course, make it an actual question rather than something that is unusable like silly questions, obvious trivia, unrelated questions, or a suggestion for a question rather than a question. Again, if your question is used (and often even if it doesn’t) you’ll get a corresponding karma cookie too. Also, we’re likely to tweak the question and/or the answers, but you’ll probably still have the advantage of being the question’s author, and having researched the material to write it, you should still be in a good position to answer it.

Bear in mind that I pay attention to how students perform on PLQs, which means that things should be fine even if your suggestion was used but some disaster happened (e.g., nobody got it right, or it didn’t have the correct answer). In such cases it will be graded leniently and/or its weight will be adjusted accordingly.

Mini FAQ

Other alternatives?

I decided to avoid exams for various reasons, and the PLQ is the best substitute that I found for them. I know that it has some issues, but all other alternatives have bigger problems. If you think that you have a better alternative, feel free to email me — but keep in mind that I have been actively looking for alternatives for a long time, including asking students for ideas. (So please avoid non-solutions like using only homework.)