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6.UAT Oral Communication
Spring 2017

6.UAT Course Information

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2017

** Nothing in this document is set in stone until Lecture 1 **


  1. Course Learning Goals and Objectives
  2. Assignments
  3. Course Expectations
  4. Text, Materials and Other Resources
  5. Attendance Policy
  6. Grading Policy
  7. Your Feedback

Course Learning Goals and Objectives

This course will (1) encourage you to think about effective oral technical communication, and (2) equip you with communication skills necessary to succeed in a professional technical academic/industry setting. We will provide you with opportunities to practice your skills and create mechanisms for feedback to help you strengthen them.

Upon completion of the course, students will have learned how to:

  • critically evaluate technical presentations
  • architect technical presentations
  • present technical material to different audiences at different levels of detail
  • give and receive constructive feedback
  • communicate more effectively in a professional setting


All assignments will be posted to the website by the end of the first week of class. This course can be a lot of work for some so plan ahead. If you are spending much more than the estimated completion times (based on student feedback) for an assignment, then you may not be working effectively. Some weeks, you'll spend more than 3 hours working on your 6.UAT assignment, but some weeks you won't have anything due - this should average out over the course of the semester.

All assignment submissions are due by 11:59pm the night before (not the hour you have recitation). With the excpetion of the Application Checkoff and the Final Self Assessment which have strict deadlines and will not be accepted late, the website automatically levies a penalty for late (non-slide) submissions.

Course Expectations

Many of you are about to enter the 'real' working world. You are expected to conduct yourself in a manner that is professional and to manage your time accordingly. As you will all be learning from each other, you are also expected to provide your fellow students with clear, respectful, honest, concrete and sensitive feedback.

Class Etiquette

Please refrain from using electronic devices during class. It is distracting to the speaker and to those around/behind you.

Please arrive on time -- it is unprofessional and disruptive to walk in during the middle of another person's presentation. Too many late arrivals will affect your final grade.

Academic Integrity

Your work should be your own. You should acknowledge your sources and cite references when appropriate. Inappropriate behavior (e.g. plagiarism, cheating) will result in a failing grade for the assignment and could lead to further disciplinary action.

Text, Materials and Examinations

There is no required textbook. Any readings will either be distributed in class or made available online.

You will need access to slide creation software. When you upload slides, preferred formats are: pdf, ppt, pptx.

There are no exams.

Office Hours

Shared TA office hours will be offered during weeks when an oral assignment is due. You can meet with any TA. You can also request office hours outside of these times with any staff member.

Attendance Policy

The course consists of a series of lectures, workshops and recitations. In the lecture and workshops, we'll go over each oral presentation assignment and cover some basic oral presentation skills. In the recitations, you'll reinforce these ideas and give your oral presentations. Participation and attendance are especially important for a class of this nature, for, unlike technical classes at MIT, you cannot simply learn the material from reading a textbook and completing the assignments alone.

Lecture and Workshop Attendance

You are responsible for anything covered during the lectures and workshops including any announcements and material. The website will not be updated with everything that transpired during lecture; that is not its purpose.

Recitation Absences

Recitation attendance is mandatory, but you are allowed one unrecovered recitation(UR) absence without penalty. Your attendance record is available online for you to check.

Just as you would notify someone in a workplace setting when you are out, help your TA minimize surprises by emailing them when you are absent, ideally beforehand if you know ahead of time. If you miss your own recitation section for any reason, your attendance record will show a UR (Unrecovered Recitation). You can recover the absence (flipping this to an RR), but this should be done within two weeks of the absence. How to recover a recitation depends on which recitation you missed. For example, you could attend another section on the same day (note: this would still incur an RR as you did not attend your official recitation). Moreover, due to the interactive nature of the course, some recitations are more difficult to recover offline than others. Consult your TA to find out how you can recover a particular recitation.

Because recitations are recoverable, recitation absences cannot be excused by a S^3 note. However, a timely S^3 note is needed if you are proposing an extension to the 2 week recovery window, or if you have extenuating circumstances (like hospitalization, death in the family, etc), and you are proposing that we consider waiving recovery.

Any unrecovered recitation absences will hurt your final grade (see grading policy below). Excess recovered recitations (>3) will also negatively affect your grade (see grading policy below). Keep in mind that the ability to recover a recitation is a courtesy and is not meant to be a substitute for attending class.

If you miss a recitation during which you are supposed to present, in addition to incurring an RR, you will have to schedule a make-up. It is your responsibility to contact your RI/TA ahead of time to arrange for one - usually this means more than 24 hours before recitation and not the night before. The earlier your request, the more likely they will accommodate you. Since you had the ability to choose your original presentation date (not getting your first choice because you were late or absence won't be accepted as a valid excuse), your TA/RI will levy a rescheduling penalty of 0.3.

If you do not notify staff ahead of time, and simply don't show up to a recitation in which you were expected to present, you will be penalized by 0.6 for your make-up talk.

In the end, if you do not do an assignment, or do not make it to your make-up, or your TA/RI are unable to accommodate the rescheduling of a make-up, you will receive a 0 for that assignment.

To summarize:

  calculatePenalty() {
  // when student has signed up for a talk but schedules a make-up:

     if S3 note, return 0;
     if there was notice,  return (-0.3);
     if there was no notice (i.e. no show the day of), {
        if no-show was for make-up, return (-4.0); // grade of 0
        else return (-0.6);

Grading Policy

You all have the potential to get an A in the course; however, we have high standards. Grades are determined based on the following weighting:

Video Assignments:
   Self-Intro		     4% 
Written Assignments:                               	
   VideoAssessment           4%
   VideoAssessmentII	     4%
Oral Assignments:						
   Previous Project Dryrun   3%
   Previous Project Revision 10% 
   Intuition Talk Dryrun     5%  
   Intuition Talk 	     20%
   Persuasive Pitch Dryrun   0%
   Persuasive Pitch          15%
   Proposal Talk Dryrun	     5%
   Proposal Talk	     25%
CheckOff Assignments:
   External Application      2%
   Additional Feedback	     2%
Online Final Assessment      1%

Each item is graded from 0-4, where a 4 is an "A", a 3 is a "B", etc. (so the A/B border is 3.5) and there is a penalty for late work.

At the end of the term, a weighted raw score is computed based upon the scores you received on your assignments.

This weighted raw score is then adjusted to account for (1) recitation attendance and possibly, to a lesser degree, (2) other factors. For recitation attendance, 0.3 is deducted for each unrecovered recitation absence beyond one, and 0.3 is deducted for having too many recovered recitations. Note that in some cases, a 0.3 deduction is enough for your final grade to drop by a letter.

Other factors that may positively or negatively affect your grade, predominantly for borderline cases include:

participation, punctuality, responsibility, attitude, professional conduct, ability to follow directions,
performance on non-graded assignments, response time to email, creativity in assignments, improvement and effort.

All assignments must be completed to be eligible for an A (of any flavor) in the course.

Requests for assignment regrades should be submitted in writing to your RI/TA. State the nature of the complaint and why the grade awarded should be otherwise. Work will be re-evaluated in its entirety.

Requests for final grade reconsideration at the end of the term should be sent to your recitation instructor and to by the end of finals week.

Your Feedback

This course is constantly being redesigned and improved. Your constructive input is an important part of this process. We will solicit feedback at the end of the course, but you are welcome to send us (anonymously if you wish but then there is no way for you to receive a reply) constructive feedback anytime during the semester. While we may be limited in how we can respond to any concerns you have in the current term, we will take them into account for future semesters.