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Welcome to CS 130: Computer Organization and Assembly Language Programming! This course explores how computer software interacts with the physical hardware of computing devices. You will learn:

  1. Digital Logic: Basic logic and hardware gates that carry out the computations at the nanoscale
  2. Computer Organization: Techniques for optimizing hardware performance
  3. Assembly Language Programming: Coding with instructions that a computer processor can execute directly

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Translate programs written in a high-level language such as Java or C to an assembly language,
  • Write simple computer programs directly in an assembly language,
  • Explain how assembly instructions are encoded in binary,
  • Explain how assembly instructions are executed by CPUs,
  • Construct sequential logic circuits using digital logic gates and explain the basic components and design principles of modern computer architecture.

Check out the Schedule page for a detailed survey of the topics covered in the course.


An electronic textbook is required for this course and costs $72 to purchase. It is a zyBook and instructions to gain access to it can be found on Blackboard. The zyBook we are using is based off of the text:

This textbook is FANTASTIC, has won awards, and the zyBook edition includes numerous interactive exercises that we will use throughout the course.

Completing the assigned readings are required and can be found on the Schedule and within the zyBook itself.

Activities / Grading

Your grade in this course is determined by:

Quizzes 10% Readings 20%
Midterm Exams 10% (each) Assignments 30%
Final Exam 20% Participation ±5%

The grading scale for the course is as follows.

A 93–100% C+ 77–80%
A- 90–93% C 73–77%
B+ 87–90% C- 70–73%
B 83–87% D 60–70%
B- 80–83% F 0–60%

NOTE: Grades will not be curved in this course; however, I reserve the right to change the above scale in your favor. This is to avoid punishing students for making an exam too long, etc.

Grades for quizzes, exams, and assignments will be posted on Gradescope rather than Blackboard. You will set up your Gradescope account while working on Assignment 1.


Approximately every other Wednesday, there will be a short electronic quiz covering the key ideas from the previous two weeks. These quizzes are designed to give you prompt feedback on your understanding of the material . If you (or the class as a whole) are missing a key concept, I want to revisit that concept as soon as possible. Studies also show that quizzes are an extremely effective learning device!


There are two 75-minute midterm exams scheduled on the following dates. These can also be found on the Schedule page.

  • Midterm Exam 1: Wednesday, September 30, 2020
  • Midterm Exam 2: Wednesday, November 11, 2020

There is also a cumulative 110-minute final exam during the final examinations week at the end of the term. The date and time of the exam will be announced later in the course.

NOTE: If you have a conflict with one of the midterm exam dates, you must contact the instructor within the first two weeks of the course. If you have a conflict with the final exam date, you must contact the instructor within two weeks of the final exam announcement.


Assignments will be assigned every other week. Most assignments will be individual, but there might be one or two that I allow you to work in groups. You can find the due dates on the Assignments page and the Schedule page.


Your participation in the course is key to you fully grasping the material. Thus, your participation grade will be calculated based on the following factors:

  • coming to class on time,
  • coming to class prepared,
  • asking questions when appropriate,
  • making positive contributions to class discussion,
  • staying on task during in-class exercises, and
  • working effectively in groups.


You are expected to attend every class every day. Any unexcused absences will start negatively affecting your grade. If must miss class for any reason, you must let me know as soon as possible.

NOTE: If something prevents you from attending class regularly, (e.g. a poor internet connection), please contact me immediately to discuss options.

Course Policies


Deadlines in this course are firm, and late submissions will not be accepted. Please plan your week accordingly and start your assignments early!

NOTE: I do recognize that there are exceptional circumstances due to family emergencies, etc. I am willing to work with you through these situations and grant extensions if it is appropriate. Please reach out to me immediately if such a circumstance arises.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Drake University is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. The Disability Services office (107 Old Main) collaborates with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations. If you have, or think you may have, a disability (e.g., mental health, attentional, learning, autism spectrum disorders, chronic health, traumatic brain injury and concussions, vision, hearing, mobility, or speech impairments), please contact

to arrange a confidential discussion regarding equitable access and reasonable accommodations.

Academic Integrity

Drake University has high standards for academic integrity, and you are expected to read the Academic Dishonesty Policy from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Below is a particularly relevant excerpt from the statement:

Academic dishonesty is an all encompassing term involving any activity that seeks to gain credit for work one has not done or to deliberately damage or destroy the work of others. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, and knowingly helping another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.

Below are some examples of how Drake’s policy applies to this course:

  • When you explicitly work as part of a group or team, you need not identify the work of each individual in the group (unless I specify otherwise).
  • You may discuss concepts described in the readings or during class with anyone.
  • All the work you submit must be your own or that of your group.
  • You must acknowledge and attribute any conceptual contributions by individuals not in your group. That is, you must give specific attribution for any assistance you receive. (This includes the instructor.) The suggested acknowledgment format is: “[Person X] helped me to do [thing Y] by [explaining Z].”
  • You are responsible for safeguarding your work from being copied by others.

Getting Help

Zoom Hours

You are encouraged to attend my regularly scheduled “Zoom hours” at the following times:

M/W: 2:30–3:30 PM CDT
Tu/Th: 11:30–12:30 PM CDT
Click here to join via Zoom

NOTE: I am also happy to meet outside of office hours. Message me on Microsoft Teams or schedule an appointment with me on Calendly.

Academic Success Resources

Check out the Academic Success website. Josh Wallace, an Academic Success Specialist, is eager to help you develop learning strategies that work in the Drake University context. His goals are to heighten your awareness of your personal strengths and to offer different ways you can approach your academic work so you’re more efficient and effective.

The Academic Success site also includes a page for Skills for Success with excellent tips for management classwork. You may also find the following resources useful:

If you enjoy satire, there are also tips for how to fail a course.

COVID-19 Policies

Masks and Social Distancing

When we do meet in-person, we will all wear masks and maintain social distance to minimize the likelihood of the spread of the novel coronavirus. Doing so is not only a requirement in our class, but is also a campus-wide policy. I will ask those who choose not to wear a mask to leave the classroom and, following guidance from the Provost’s office, I will alert the dean of students’ office.

Camera Use

A significant part of your learning in this course will depend on your active and attentive engagement in class discussions and other collaborative learning opportunities. I encourage you to turn on your camera during online collaborative exchanges to help sustain a sense of community and co-presence as we learn together. However, doing so is not required; if you have reservations about doing so (or an inconsistent, slow internet connection, etc.) having your camera turned off is also completely acceptable.

If You Test Positive

If you test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed and need to isolate yourself, please send an email to from your Drake email account and include your full name and student ID along with information about your situation. College and schools’ deans’ offices will then contact your professors, who will work with you to provide fully virtual learning opportunities during your quarantine and/or recovery.

Self-Monitoring and Symptoms

Please carefully monitor your own health and wellbeing throughout the semester, including frequently taking your own temperature. If you experience COVID-19 symptoms or a fever, even if you do not test positive, please do not come to an in-person class meeting. Fill out your information using the following Drake self-monitoring form:

Additional Information

Here’s a good resource for other questions/concerns regarding COVID: