Spring 2015

Course Information

Last Updated: Sep 3, 2014

** This has not yet been updated for Spring 2015 **


  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:


There are a number of assignments in this course but the ones worth the most are the three oral presentation assignments. In the first presentation, you will talk bout a technical project that you've done to a general MIT audience (the Previous Project Talk). In the second, you will explain the intuition behind a technical concept to a broader non-technical audience (the Intuition Talk). And in the third and final presentation, you will propose a technical project to a peer audience. Note that for the purposes of UAT, you do not have to actually implement the proposed project, but you do need to convincingly demonstrate that you've thought about how to implement the project.

Be forewarned that this course can be a lot of work for some. Plan ahead. All assignments are already available online. Estimated completion times for each (based on student feedback) are provided. 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 assignments are due by 8am of the day they are due (and not the hour you have recitation). Late submssions will be accepted, but will be penalized. Slides in particular are due by 8am of the day you are scheduled to present.

All presentations occur during recitation. Submit your slides online beforehand. You update your slides by submitting another version (you can't unsubmit previously submitted slides). Uploading is useful in case we need to access your slides for some reason.

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.

Attendance Policy

The course consists of a series of labs and recitations. In the labs, 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.

Lab Attendance

Lab attendance positively affects your grade (see grading policy below). If you are absent, you are responsible for any announcements made, material covered, and work missed. Not being there is an unacceptable excuse for knowing about something. Lab absences cannot be recovered and can only be excused by a note from the Dean. (Note: an interview is NOT an excused absence because you can choose when to interview and most companies understand if you can't make a particular interview date for academic reasons.)

Recitation Absences

Recitation attendance is mandatory, but you are allowed one recitation 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. I you miss a recitation, you can recover the absence, but this should be done within two weeks of the absence. How to recover a recitation depends on which recitation you missed. 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.

If you miss a recitation during which you are supposed to present, it is your responsibility to contact your RI/TA ahead of time to arrange for a make-up session. The earlier your request, the more likely they will accommodate you. Since you chose your original presentation date, depending on the circumstance, your TA/RI may levy a late penalty (at their discretion).

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, your TA and RI will have the impression that you are irresponsible and unreliable. Your grade will automatically be penalized by at least 0.5 (half a letter grade) for your make-up talk.

Any unrecovered recitation absence will hurt your final grade (see grading policy below). Excess recovered recitations (>=4) will also negatively affect your grade. 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 have extenuating circumstances, please let the staff/Dean know.

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:

Lab Attendance	  10%
Assignments   	  90%
  Video Assignments:
     Self-Intro		       2.5% 
  Written Assignments:                               	
     VideoAssessment           2.5%
     VideoAssessment 2	       2.5%
  Online Final Assessment      2.5%
  Oral Assignments:						
     Previous Project Talk	 5%
     Storyboarding Talk         10%  
     Intuition Talk Dryrun	 5%  
     Intuition Talk 	        25%
     Persuasive Peer Review      5%
     Persuasive Speech          10%
     Final Talk			30%

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.) Late work will be accepted and graded, but there will be a penalty for lateness. Lab attendance is graded according to the following mapping:

lab absences	grade
0		4.2
1		4.0
2		3.5
3		3.0
4		2.5
5		2.0
6		1.5
7		1.0
8		0.5
9+		0

At the end of the term, a weighted raw score is computed based upon the scores you received on your assignments and your lab attendance (90% and 10% respectively).

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

excessive recovered recitation absences, participation,  punctuality, responsibility, 
attitude, professional conduct, ability to follow directions, 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. However, the 6.UAT staff further reserves the right to grade on a curve and to make adjustments for special cases.

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 tleng@mit.edu 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) constructive feedback anytime during the semester. While we may be limited in how we can respond to any concerns you have, we will take them into account for future semesters.