Gradiance Student Guide
Gradiance On-Line Accelerated Learning (GOAL)
is a system for creating and automatically
grading homeworks, programming laboratories, and tests.
Through the concept of "root questions," Gradiance encourages students
to solve complete problems, even though the homework appears to be in a
This guide explains how students can make best use of the GOAL system
and steps you through the critical operations.
Creating Your Gradiance Account
To use the Gradiance system, you will need an account.
How you get the account depends on what arrangements your instructor has made.
For the Winter of 2006, there are two sites providing service:
for services sold by Addison-Wesley
or Prentice-Hall. For these services, first to go to the site
provided by the publisher. The current sites are:
for the database books
First Course in Database Systems (Ullman & Widom) and Database
Systems: The Complete Book (Garcia, Ullman, Widom).
for the new, on-line edition of
Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools (Aho, Lam, Sethi, Ullman).
At the appropriate one of these sites, you will create your account.
After creating the account and purchasing the desired service, you should
go to www.gradiance.com/pearson
and enter your class.
Note that your login/password at this Gradiance site is the one you
created at the Prentice-Hall or Addison-Wesley site.
for all other course materials sold by,
or provided gratis, by Gradiance. On this site, you create your account,
and pay for it if necessary.
You will be asked to provide:
Your first and last names.
An email address.
A unique ID, which must be at least 6 characters. We'll tell you if yor
chosen name is already taken, and you'll have to find something that is
not yet claimed, just as for other public sites.
A password, which must be at least 10 letters and digits, with at least
one of each.
Joining a Class
The first thing you will need to do after establishing your account
(as in Creating Your Account above)
is to go to the proper Gradiance site, either
and log in. You will see your home page, where you can
enter your Class Token, an eight hex-digit code,
that your instructor will generate and tell you.
It's purpose, in addition to identifying the class uniquely
among all classes at all institutions, is to make sure that only people
the instructor expects to be in the class are in fact able to access
Your Gradiance Home Page
When you log in, you get a screen with a left menu that covers
basic account-management functions, and a body that allows you to
access your class or classes. In the left menu you will
Home Page: You can always get back to this screen by clicking
Update Password: An option handled in a standard way.
Update Account: We should have your first and last names, and a
current email address. Please enter them here if they are not already
Log Out: The effect should be obvious.
At the top of the page body,
you will see a "class portfolio." You should
find listed there all classes you are taking and that use Gradiance.
Clicking on one of them
will send you to the home page for that class. From there, you can work
your assignments, as described in the next section.
Doing Your Class Work
When you enter a class, the left menu changes. The new options are:
- Homeworks: A list of all the homeworks you have been assigned,
including those due, and those whose deadline has passed. Once a deadline
has passed, you can normally (depending on the instructor's policy) see the
solutions embedded in your most recent submission. Note that if you
never submitted a homework, you can't see its solution.
- Lab Projects: A list of all laboratory assignments. Note that
not all classes have laboratories.
- Tutorials: These are generally not used and will be phased out.
- Handouts: Your instructor may make available
messages or lecture notes under this heading.
- Assignments Due: This is a redundant
list of work of all types, but only
those currently due.
Homeworks appear to be sets of multiple-choice questions. Normally, they will be
"root questions," which means that each time someone opens the
assignment, they get the same question,
but a different choice from among one correct and three incorrect
answers. Normally, both the questions and the choices appear in random
While different instructors may employ different policies, normally you
will be allowed to open the same assignment as many times as you like,
and you may submit it as many times as you like.
Your goal is to get
a perfect score, eventually. That is, the purpose of Gradiance
assignments is not to test you, but to help you learn the material. It
doesn't matter if you don't get it right at first; you'll be given help
Hints for Doing Gradiance Homeworks
Most, if not all, questions you will be given have "choice explanations"
for the incorrect choices. Your instructor will probably allow you to
see these immediately after submitting a homework. While the nature of
the choice explanation varies from question to question, it usually
either explains why your answer is wrong or gives you an outline of the
problem's solution. Some students like to answer wrong the first time
purposely, to get the hints, and then reopen the assignment and start
working "for real." However, to prevent rapid-fire guessing, your
instructor may require a minimum interval between openings of one
assignment, e.g., 10 minutes.
We suggest that you think of each Gradiance question as if you were
asked to work an ordinary, "long-answer" question. Work that question
and keep the answer handy on a piece of paper. The multiple-choice
question will typically sample your knowledge of the correct answer.
For example, if the question calls for you to identify one tuple in the
join of two relations, you should
compute the whole join and leave it in front of
you. You'll then find it easy to identify the one tuple out of four
choices that is in the join.
If you have worked the problem correctly, you'll find the proper choice
on the paper. If you have worked the problem incorrectly, you'll
probably make a wrong choice and will get a choice explanation that may
help for the next time you try the assignment. Note that if you make no
choice, you will not be given a choice explanation, so always try
After the due date for your assignment, you will be allowed to view your
final submission. Typically (instructor's option), with each question
will appear a solution to the problem as a whole, along with the choice
explanation for any wrong choices.
Lab Projects are different from homeworks. You are asked to write small
programs, such as SQL queries. As with homeworks, you are allowed to
submit labs as many times as you like. Each time you submit you get
a response for each of the queries that you tried to answer. There are
Correct. You hope for this response; it means you got the query
Syntax Error(s). There were some syntax errors in what you
wrote. The message
from the compiler is passed along to you.
The query was syntactically correct but gave the wrong
answer. You will be offered a chance to see an example of what went wrong.
That is, you can see, on a sample input, what your code produced and what
correct code would have produced on the same input. Often, studying the
difference suggests what you are doing wrong.
Hints for Doing Gradiance Laboratories
Since these labs normally involve writing a number of independent pieces
of code, e.g., SQL queries, we suggest that you work on one part at a
Submit it and see if you got
it right. Remember that you will be given either a syntax error message
or an example of how your code goes astray, if the program is wrong.
We remember that you got a part correct, but we don't remember the exact
code you wrote.
Homeworks and labs behave differently when you try to resubmit. With
labs, we know it is important for you to retain your work, edit your
queries, and try again. Thus, hitting the "back" button once or twice
gets you to your most recent submission, and this page can be submitted as
many times as you like. Homeworks, on the other hand, are designed to
sample your knowledge of the solution to an underlying problem. You may
submit each version of a homework only once. If you try changing guesses on
a page you have submitted and then resubmitting it, you get an error
message, and this work will not be accepted. You need to reopen the
same assignment again, get different answer choices, and pick from among
the new choices.