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Homework help quantity

  1. Feb 20, 2014 #1

    Maylis

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    Hello.

    You may have thought I was going to ask a homework question, but I know my forums. I was curious if there is ''too much'' asking of help for problems. In my case, since I usually don't know the solution, I err on the side of caution and ask for help. I just don't want to spam a forum with 15 homework problems on the front page and feel like a jerk for asking for too much.

    Or do I just go ahead and ask away? It's sort of like how much food should you eat when as a dinner guest with a family you don't know very well, but there's a whole pumpkin pie just sitting on the table staring at you!
     
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  3. Feb 20, 2014 #2

    SteamKing

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    IMO, it's OK to ask for help on a problem which you don't understand or which a path to solution isn't clear. That's why the HW rules state that posters must attempt a solution before posting.

    However, if you find yourself asking for help on every single HW problem you are assigned, this indicates a much deeper problem which the forums won't be able to help you with much: namely, you've gotten yourself in over your head in your coursework or are taking a course in a subject which you don't understand or which is too advanced for your abilities currently.
     
  4. Feb 20, 2014 #3

    Ben Niehoff

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    You are asking random people on the internet, in their spare time, to do you a favor. It is the same as asking anyone for a favor. Do so respectfully and sparingly, and show that you have done what you can do before asking.
     
  5. Feb 20, 2014 #4

    Maylis

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    Yes, I always give an honest attempt before I ask. I know I am capable of learning the material, but often there are little tricks that I cannot see that the more experienced eye does see. Anyways, since the professor decided to take my solutions manual away from me by taking away access from the page, I have no way to check if my answer is correct unless collaborating or just trusting I did it right, and I know from experience that subtle things fly right over me all the time to trust myself.
     
  6. Feb 21, 2014 #5

    collinsmark

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    Personally, I think it's fine as long as you first give it a good solid try. And then you must show your work and explain where and why you are stuck.

    Sometimes the best way to learn the physics material is when you are stuck, take a step back and think about the problem more. Try to approach the problem from a different angle. That's where the best learning comes from.

    If you post a problem immediately after your stuck without giving yourself time to think about the problem more, and perhaps from other perspectives, then you're likely doing yourself a disservice.

    Everybody gets stuck sometimes, at least for a little while. And it is at these times, when thinking about the problems more deeply, that we learn the most.

    If that fails, then yeah, go ahead and post! :smile:

    I think it's fine to post in order to check your answer. [Edit: You must be the original poster of the thread for this!!! Do not check your work by answering somebody else's problem!*]

    *[At least not publicly in the same thread as a the original OP.]

    Just make sure to show your work, and type your proposed solution up intelligibly. :smile:
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
  7. Feb 24, 2014 #6

    Redbelly98

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    [Bolding added by me]

    But there usually are ways to tell if your answer is correct, or at least reasonable, without actually comparing it to a published answer.

    • Is the answer consistent with the original equation? (This will catch algebra mistakes made in manipulating the original equation.)
    • Are the units on the answer correct? (This catches some mistakes, and requires you to include units with the numbers while working the problem.)
    • In a kinematics problem with constant acceleration, try solving for all relevant quantities not given (t, Δx, vi, vf, a), not just the one asked-for quantity. Then check that the solved-for quantities are consistent with the given quantities).
    • Is the answer reasonable? For example, a person should not be able run faster than about 10 m/s, a car is unlikely to be going faster than 40-50 m/s unless it is a race car, etc.)

    If you are in the habit of checking with published answers, then you are unable to check your answers during an exam when you do not have access to those answers. Develop some of the techniques listed above, and then you can check your answer during an exam and possibly fix mistakes to improve your grade.
     
  8. Feb 24, 2014 #7

    Ben Niehoff

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    Kudos to your professor for taking your manual away! You've been using it as a crutch.

    The most important part of solving a problem is the part where you get stuck (and if you never get stuck, there was never a problem to solve...just a calculation to churn through). The way to excel at physics, mathematics, engineering, etc., is to learn how to think through things and get yourself un-stuck. And doing homework problems is meant to give you some practice at this.

    Don't think of your ability to solve problems as set in stone ("I always get stuck", "I can't tell if my answers are correct", etc.). These kinds of absolute statements will only serve to reinforce your lack of confidence. Instead think "I am still learning how to get un-stuck" and "I am still learning ways to tell if my answers make sense".

    And like the above posters say, don't immediately run here when you get stuck. Think about it for a day. Put it down and do something else, sometimes you get inspiration when you stop trying to force yourself.
     
  9. Feb 24, 2014 #8

    Maylis

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    That sounds nice, but it is just not pragmatic. I have 1 hour a week to see my professor in office hours, and with 10 other people in a 1 hour time slot, there is virtually no way to ask all (sometimes can't even get in 1 question) the questions I want to ask. This week the professor was gone out of the country, so I didn't even get a chance to see him.

    At least the solution manual gave me something to check my answers, and since he was gone, I had to turn in some homework that I got wrong, and one problem I didn't even solve. In my opinion, being against a solution manual is roughly the same as being against Schaum's Outlines, aren't those problems with worked out solutions??

    It's very difficult to ''sit around for a day'' thinking about one problem. Time flies fast here, it is not feasible.
    No solution manual = blank page on homework, especially when the homework problems involve things not explained thoroughly. I don't think I will come up with the solution on my own. So when I don't have the manual, then I have to use this forum to help me and increase my bandwidth on this page considerably.

    Also, I am attempting every problem and working on them before I look at the manual. I can see how some students would not even do the problem and just directly copy the solution manual, but I am being penalized for other students behavior. I guess it's a moot point since the professor can do whatever he wants. If we can't have a fully worked solution, I think a decent compromise is to have the answer (no fully worked solution) in the back of the textbook for every problem, instead of 1/5th of them (and the easy ones are mostly in the back, which is useless).
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  10. Feb 25, 2014 #9

    Ben Niehoff

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    I didn't say to sit around for a day. I said to stop, put it down, do something else, and come back to it later. Sometimes you think of a way to approach a problem when you're doing something else (playing outside, taking a shower, sleeping, etc.). Avoid procrastinating, so that you have time to do this.

    If you really can't do the homework without cheating or having someone hold your hand, then either you are monumentally impatient or you are in over your head.
     
  11. Feb 26, 2014 #10

    CAF123

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    I don't know if this is crazy, but sometimes when I am working on a problem late in the evening for a long time and it is not solved before I go to bed, I would wake up during the night and find myself still thinking about the problem.

    Once, I woke up in the morning and had found the solution to my problem.
     
  12. Feb 26, 2014 #11

    Nugatory

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    Not even slightly crazy - actually very common.
     
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