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COMP 491/492

Dickinson College Computer Science Senior Seminar

discussion## Syllabus

Course Description

The Senior Seminar (COMP491/492 combined) has three main components:

  1. A year long project with two options:
    • Honors Research Projects: Students pursuing departmental honors will use their honors research project as their senior seminar project.
    • H/FOSS Projects: Students not pursuing departmental honors will become involved with a Free and Open Source Project (FOSS or Humanitarian FOSS - H/FOSS) and complete a sequence of four activities using their project and then planning additional work to be completed for the project, as time permits.
  2. Readings, in-class exercises, homework, class discussions and reflective writings related to Free and Open Source Software (H/FOSS) and Software Engineering (491/fall).
  3. Readings, discussions and reflective writings on ethical, legal and social issues related to computing (492/spring).

Course Schedule

Assignment details including due dates and topics are indicated on the Course Home Page:


Reading materials for COMP491/492 will be provided via links on the course schedule or via Moodle.

Learning Goals

Students will:

491 Grade Determination

Course Component Weight
Preparation/Attendance/Engagement (PAE) 15%
A01 - Slack/Blog/GitHub/Wiki 2%
A02(a,b,c) - Project Exploration/Review/Selection 15% (5% each)
A03(a,b) - Reflective Blog posts 10% (5% each)
A04 - Bug Gardening 10%
A05 - Tech Spikes 13%
A06 - Project Work 25%

The grading rubric for PAE is given below. More specific grading rubrics for each assignment will be given in the assignment document linked on the course schedule.

Participation/Attendance/Engagement (PAE)

The success of the Senior Seminar is in a large part up to you as its primary participants. My hope is that you will all engage in the material, prepare carefully and come to our meetings excited to participate in discussions and activities with your peers. If that happens then our meetings will be lively and interesting and we will be able to focus largely on the aspects of the material that are most interesting to you as a group. Plus, its good practice - many employers are now using Group Discussions as a screening technique before or during interviews!

On Discussion Days

On days that we are discussing topics, you are expected to complete readings before class, think about and process them. In addition, you are expected to find, read and process at least one additional source on the topic of the day. You will then make a post to the discussion forum on the course Moodle. The Readings gives the assigned readings for each day and the details on what must be included in the Moodle post. You are then expected to actively participate in the class discussion of the topic. I will organize our discussions around the Moodle posts that you make. So the more thought you put into your Mood’e posts the more the discussion will be focused around things that are of interest to the class.

If you find participating in class discussions challenging, please feel free to talk with me about strategies that may help. In addition, these sites have some good advice on increasing or improving class participation:

On Work Days

On days that are designated “Work Day” you will have time to work on assignments. Early on, this will be individual work, but later it will be time to work collectively with your project team. On these days it is expected that you (and your team) will have done work prior to the class and will arrive in class with a plan for how to make productive use of the time. In addition, I will circulate among the project teams to check on the status of your work and to help address challenges being faced.

PAE rubric

PAE will be evaluated daily using the criteria in the following rubric.

Click rubric to enlarge image.
PAE Rubric - ask instructor for clarification.

Academic Integrity

Please take the time to read the Academic Misconduct section of Dickinson’s Community Standards. Violations of this policy are considered serious transgressions, so you should be especially certain that you understand your rights and responsibilities under it. Students suspected of academic dishonesty will be subject to the process outlined in the Student Conduct pages. The specific collaboration policies for each component of this course are detailed in the assignments. If you are unsure about whether or not certain kinds of collaboration are permissible on an assignment or in this course, ask your instructor

Intellectual Property Rights

Audio or video recording of class meetings, lectures or discussions is prohibited without explicit permission of the instructor. Photographic records of whiteboards, projected slides or other visual media is also prohibited without explicit permission of the instructor. In any case where permission is given for audio/video/photographic records to be made they are for personal use only. They may not be shared or redistributed and must be destroyed at the end of their usefulness or within one week following the termination of this course, whichever comes first. Similarly, any redistribution of sample code, homework solution sets or provided lab code is prohibited. Please note that all outside materials used in the course (readings/tutorials/assignments/projects/etc) are also be governed by their own licensing agreements.

Accommodations Students with Disabilities

Dickinson values diverse types of learners and is committed to ensuring that each student is afforded equitable access to participate in all learning experiences. If you have (or think you may have) a learning difference or a disability – including a mental health, medical, or physical impairment – that would hinder your access to learning or demonstrating knowledge in this class, please contact Access and Disability Services (ADS). They will confidentially explain the accommodation request process and the type of documentation that Dean and Director Marni Jones will need to determine your eligibility for reasonable accommodations. To learn more about available supports, go to, email, call (717)245-1734, or go to the ADS office in Room 005 of Old West, Lower Level (aka “the OWLL”).

If you’ve already been granted accommodations at Dickinson, please follow the guidance at for disclosing the accommodations for which you are eligible and scheduling a meeting with me as soon as possible so that we can discuss your accommodations and finalize your Access Plan. If you will be using any test-taking accommodations in this class, be sure to enter all test dates into your Access Plan in advance of our meeting.


This class meets and my office are located on the second floor of Tome Hall, which has an elevator, located to the left of the stairs inside the main entrance. If you require the use of an elevator to access our class or my office, please let me know. If there is ever a malfunction with the elevator, we will be notified by email, and I will consult with ADS to identify our options for that day.

Life Happens:

Sometimes stuff just happens, even more so in the challenging situations in we currently find ourselves. Sometimes it is an unexpected sudden event such as an illness or family emergency. Other times it may be an ongoing issue or concern or an accumulation of smaller issues. Any of these things may affect your (or my) ability to focus or perform up to your (or my) potential through no shortcoming or fault of your (my) own. Dickinson is a kind and caring community and we want to see you achieve at your full potential. So, if you are experiencing life events that are affecting your performance please don’t hesitate to talk to your instructor, your advisor or your class Dean. They will all be willing to talk with you, help to formulate a plan and/or connect you with others that may be able to assist. If you are going to miss a due date for this course, please contact the instructor in advance. If I am experiencing such events, I will communicate them to you as well and we will adapt.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License All textual materials used in this course are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

GPL V3 or Later All executable code used in this course is licensed under the GNU General Public License Version 3 or later