The 6.042 Checkmark Protocol
In a 6.042 class, an important goal is to write on the team whiteboard "of course" solutions to class problems. Think of a very capable classmate (800 on her Math SAT) at a neighboring table who normally solves the class problems quickly but just didn't how to solve this problem. Without explanation by anyone on your team, she should be able to glance at your team's white board solution and say "Of course."
When everyone on the team feels the answer written on the team whiteboard meets this standard, a designated team member should put a check mark next to it on the team white board. Before check marking an answer, the team member should make sure every team member has individually signalled "thumbs up" indicating that they now feel they "own" the solution on the board and are ready to defend it if challenged by their team Coach. A problem should not be checkmarked until each team member has given thumbs up.
Note that it is not adequate simply to address the entire team asking whether they all "get it," and look for nods of agreement. The weakness in not polling everyone individually is that team members who harbor doubts often will not respond to the group query because they don't want to seem disagreeable. On the other hand, when asked individually, they will usually be more comfortable withholding "thumb up" when they have doubts, which will allow other teammates to explain things further.
If a student remains unsure about a team solution after a reasonable time of going over it with their teammates, the team should move on. Students whose doubts remain unresolved will get full credit for class participation, but they must send a prompt followup email to their Coach confirming that they have read the posted problem solution and indicating what, if anything, they still find confusing.
After a team answer is checkmarked, the team Coach will review the answer, offer feedback, and/or ask individual team members to defend the answer. The Coach will not ask for an explanation from a student who has indicated continued doubts, though they may ask for a brief indication of where the student got lost in trying to understand the team solution.
The whole checkmark protocol is designed so team members can more effectively help each other learn the class material.
Grades for Class Participation
Class participation is assigned a grade
from 0 to 3: