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Culminating Assessments

Table of Contents

  1. Simulated Midterm
    1. Format
    2. Requirements
    3. Timeline
  2. Problem Solving Portfolio
    1. Format
    2. Requirements
    3. Timeline

Culminating assessments are designed to give you an opportunity to engage with all the material covered during course up to the time of the assessment. Unlike take-home assessments, which primarily emphasize the most recent concepts, culminating assessments give similar levels of focus to all topics.

While culminating assessments will include solving problems, and may have the look and feel of an exam, they are not graded on correctness or accuracy. Your grade on a culminating assessment is based only on your completion of the required elements (outlined below). Culminating assessment are graded S/U–no grades of E or N will be given.

Simulated Midterm

The first culminating assessment will be a simulated midterm. This assessment will look similar to a traditional CSE 142 midterm exam, but you will not be graded on the accuracy of your answers. Instead, you will be asked to compare your responses to a published key, annotate your answers to indicate areas you made mistakes, and meet with your TA to discuss your work.


The simulated midterm will be conducted in Ed, and will consist of a series of problems of two types: mechanical problems where you answer questions about or predict the results of executing provided code; and programming problems where you write code to satisfy a given prompt. The assessment will also include a "cheat sheet" of notes that may be helpful in completing these problems.

To best simulate the circumstances of a traditional midterm, we recommend adhering to the following procedures:

  • Spend no more than 75 minutes working on the assessment (even if that means you do not complete all problems).
  • Complete the entire assessment in one sitting.
  • Do not use any outside resources (notes, sample code, the textbook, internet searches, calculators, etc.) while completing the assessment.
  • Do all of your work in the Ed lesson for the assessment, and do not write, run, or debug code in any other environment.

These procedures will help to create a reasonable simulation of a traditional midterm and to provide the most accurate indication of your current level of mastery. They are recommended, but are not required, and you will not be penalized for failing to follow these procedures. However, the further you stray from these suggestions (e.g. by taking extra time or by utilizing outside resources), the less useful your performance will be in helping both you and the course staff evaluate your current mastery and provide meaningful support going forward.


To receive an S grade on the simulated midterm, you must complete the following three steps:

  1. Make a good-faith effort to complete the simulated midterm
    Work on as many problems as possible on the simulated midterm, ideally by following the procedures outlined above. You will not be graded on how many problems you attempt or complete or on the accuracy of your respones. However you must attempt enough of the problems to indicate a good-faith effort, and the activity will be most useful if your give your best possible effort.
  2. Annotate your work based on the provided key
    After you have completed the assessment, compare your responses to the provided key. Annotate your work in Ed using the feedback utility to indicate where you made mistakes and what those mistakes were. You must include enough annotations to make clear that you have thoughtfully considered your work and where your responses were incorrect. Again, you will not be graded on the accuracy of your responses, so it is in your best interest to be honest and thorough in your annotations.
  3. Schedule and attend a check-in session with your TA
    After you have completed and annotated your simulated midterm, you will attend a 10- to 15-minute, one-on-one session with your TA to discuss your work. (Your individual TA will tell you how they will schedule your session.) In this session, you will go over some of the problems on the assessment and discuss both how you could have improved your work on those problems and how you can improve your mastery of the material going forward. You should come to your meeting with a plan for what you would like to discuss and/or specific questions you would like answered. Note that, in the 10-15 minute meeting, you will likely not have time to review every problem on the assessment. Be sure to decide ahead of time which problems or concepts you would most benefit from discussing.


  • Week of 07/19 - 07/23:
    Prepare for the simulated midterm however you see fit. You can find a database of past CSE 142 midterm exam problems here. Look for communication from your TA on how to schedule your one-on-one session. (Each TA will set their own process and schedule.)
  • Thursday 07/22 6PM PDT:
    Simulated Midterm Review Session: TAs will be going over programming problems similar to the type that will appear on your simulated midterm, talk about problem-solving strategies, and answer questions in preparation for the simulated midterm.
  • Friday 07/23:
    Simulated Midterm Released. There will be no regular class that day.
  • Sunday 07/25:
    Simulated Midterm Key Released. The key for the simulated midterm will be released and you may annotate your work if you have already completed the simulated midterm.
  • Monday 07/26:
    Simulated Midterm Completed. You should have at minimum completed your midterm and scheduled a check-in meeting with your TA.
  • Week of 07/26 - 08/02:
    Check-In Meetings w/ your TA. Schedule and attend your one-on-one session with your TA. You will need to complete and annotate your simulated midterm at least 24 hours prior to your session to ensure your TA has time to review your work. Be sure to follow your TA's procedure for scheduling and attending your session.

Problem Solving Portfolio

The second culminating assessment will be a video problem solving portfolio. For this assessment, you will work on a few problems similar to those that might have appeared on a traditional CSE 142 final exam. However, rather than simply submit your solutions to these problems, you will create videos to teach someone else how to solve them!


We will release a pool of programming problems in Ed for you to choose from in creating your portfolio. From this pool, you will select three (3) problems to solve and explain. For each problem you chose, you will create a three- to six-minute video walking through your problem-solving approach and explaining your solution. You can think of these videos as shorter versions of the walkthrough videos your TAs have been creating for section problems throughout the quarter. We will also release a few additional sample videos you can use as models.

Your videos should include your voice (and, if possible, face) explaning your solution to the problems you choose. Videos must also include some way of showing your code–this could be a screen-recording, whiteboard, tablet, or any other material that works for you. The format is not important; what matters is that you are able to effectively explain your approach and show your work. Your videos do not need to include an explanation of the problem itself, but should mention details as they become relevant to your solution. (See the sample videos for examples.)

As on the simulated midterm, you will not be graded on the correctness of your solutions. However, your work must demonstrate a good-faith effort to solve the problems to the best of your ability. If there are aspects of the problems you struggle with, you should call those out in your video. (Explanations of errors or areas of struggle are very effective teaching tools!)

You can use any technology you have available to create your videos. There are no minimum quality requirements, but both the video and audio should be clear enough to understand what you are saying and doing. (We highly recommend Loom as a simple, easy way to create videos that include screen recordings, voiceovers, and optionally video. Zoom should also be capable of creating recordings.) As mentioned above, you are not required to include your face in the video, so you do not need access to a webcam. You will need to include audio, so you will need a microphone of some kind. If you do not have access to technology capable of creating a video that meets the requirements, or if you are in a living situation that makes recording video infeasible, please contact Omar immediately to make arrangements. The UW Student Technology Loan Program may also be able to help.


To receive an S grade on the problem solving portfolio, you must submit video walkthroughs of three (3) problems chosen from the pool provided in Ed. Videos must meet the following requirements:

  • Each video should be between three (3) and six (6) minutes long (inclusive) and cover a single problem. Your three videos should be no more than fifteen (15) minutes long combined.
    • We will not strictly enforce these limits, but please try to stick to them as much as possible. Videos that are too short are unlikely to meet the requirements, and videos that are too long will create a burden for us in grading.
  • Each video should include your voice, a visual of the code you are explaining, and, if possible, your face.
  • The work you explain must indicate a legitimate, good-faith effort to solve the problem to the best of your ability, and must be your own work.
    • You do not need to end up with a complete or correct solution, but you must have enough code to indicate that you tried.
  • In each video, you should, at minimum:
    • Identify the key elements of your solution.
    • Explain how you arrived at your solution.
    • Describe any mistakes, errors, or misunderstandings you encountered.
    • If your solution is incomplete or indcorrect, describe where you believe the issues to be (in behavior and/or code).

You do not need to "live-code" your solution in your video – in fact, you will likely find it easier to have your work already complete and simply explain what you have written. You do not need to fully script your video in advance (though you may if you prefer), but you will likely find it helpful to think about what you will say ahead of time and have a plan. You do not need to worry about creating "professional" quality productions–it's fine to stumble over your words a bit or back up if you make a mistake in your explanation. You also do not need to do any editing or post-processing on your videos.


  • Week of 08/04 - 08/11:
    Prepare for the final problem-solving portfolio however you see fit. You can find a database of past CSE 142 final exam problems here.
  • Wednesday 08/11:
    Final Problem-Solving Portfolio Released. (You can find it here on Ed)
  • Monday 08/16:
    Final Problem Solving Portfolio Due. Videos must be submitted by 11:59 PM PDT on Monday, 08/16. Please note that unlike the simulated midterm, this is a hard deadline. Videos will not be accepted after this time.