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Homework solutions to textbook

  1. Aug 29, 2010 #1
    Is it wrong to use or find these? And I'm talking about all the solutions. Of course, if a student were to come across this and copy the work down merely to get a good homework grade, that would be evident come exam time. However, if the solutions were used to better understand the material and to see worked-out problems, that could aid in learning.

    I'm just curious what you think, particularly professors. Admittedly, I'm facing this somewhat self-imposed ethical dilemma.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2010 #2
    I'm no professor but I find solutions to homework problems immensely helpful when learning a new topic. There are some situations where I obtain a correct answer but the reasoning behind my process was faulty. This can be frustrating and lead to the feeling of "well they're just making this stuff up now".

    If your professor grades homework and he knows there are answers in the back of the book I assume he would only give you the odd problems, or the ones with no answers. In the case of sharing work, the only professor I've had who graded homework on a daily basis actually encouraged us to get together and work on problems. Like you said, if you just copy down the work for an easy A on your homework it will be obvious come exam time. The homework grade was something like 10% of the overall grade anyway, so in the end graded homework is just a way to force students to practice (which is not a bad idea at all, I actually like it when this is the case, gives me more incentive :) )

    I guess what I'm trying to say is: Finding the answers to problems online/from friends is perfectly fine as long as you make the effort to understand the material yourself and don't just copy. You'll be shooting yourself in the foot for later when you're expected to know the material in later classes.
  4. Aug 29, 2010 #3
    Actually, this textbook has no answers in the back of the book. After the second problem set, all of the homework will be exclusively from this book.
  5. Aug 31, 2010 #4
    Anyone else want to chime in?
  6. Aug 31, 2010 #5
  7. Sep 2, 2010 #6
    Hello everyone. I am new here to Physics Forums and this is my first post.

    In regards to Homework solutions to the textbook I have to agree with previous responses. The homework solutions help a lot to get your thinking and understanding straight. But when you do your homework assignments, NEVER go to the solution manual immediately. Work on the problem yourself for hours. Go to office hours of your professor and your TA. Go to Physics Tutoring Sessions (if your university offers this for free---at my university they do). If all comes to the final moment and nothing has worked out or there was not enough time, then consult the solution manual.

    It is really easy to cheat yourself by looking at the solution manual. Do not make that a habit. The purpose of homework is to provide practice and experience. When you do problems by yourself, with your professor, TA, friends, tutors, etc. it all adds up to your experience and provides a better understanding of the problem.

    You can cheat (like many in my classes have done) by looking at the solution manual. Professors are most likely aware of it because of the good results on homework assignments (which is why many make it a small portion of your grade). But when it comes to the tests, midterms, and final exams, then you would regret cheating on the homework assignments. I have been in classes where the homework was only 10% and the midterm 40% and the final 50%. Just imagine what happened to my classmates who cheated on their homework assignments. If you cheat yourself then you would not perform well on the tests.

    Bottom line is: It is a great idea to use the homework solutions to the textbook as a last resort when all options are no longer available. Never use the homework solutions to the textbook to cheat your way through the homework, because you will diffidently regret it.
  8. Sep 2, 2010 #7


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    See this http://mailer.uwf.edu/listserv/wa.exe?A2=ind1008&L=chemed-l&T=0&F=&S=&P=42910 [Broken] discussion. While people on CHEMED-L look from a slightly different angle, their opinions may be still interesting.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Sep 2, 2010 #8
    Coming from someone who is not confident enough to read math/physics books without
    solutions *yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!* I simply would not buy books that don't have solutions.
    For physics I'm using the A.P. French series & the Manchester physics series mainly &
    these books are a lifesaver simply because of the answers in the back. Of course I try
    every given example in the book before reading the solutions as I'm trying to learn the
    subject not fake it (as I assume most students are) so having the solutions not only
    soothe's me knowing I'll be able to check if I'm learning things right I'll also make sure I am
    learning things right. I think it's almost criminal to give introductory texts to students
    without solutions. The only problem is that you do feel tempted to quickly check the
    solution when you are really confused about a problem (nearly always because of arcane
    language in my experience )
    so I think it's the only possible negative side effect. As long as you're conscious
    of this (and seeing as every book with solutions in the back gives that warning it's hard to forget :uhh:)
    you'll be fine. Furthermore I'd recommend Walter Greiner's Theoretical Physics
    series as examples of this, checking your work before reading the solutions, It looks so
    promising (will be starting it soon-ish, hopefully!).
  10. Sep 2, 2010 #9
    There are varying opinions on there, of course. I personally do not think homework should be graded, as it's a time for me to learn the material, and also not grading it would give me more time to learn the material before it's graded.

    What do you think? To what extent should I use the solutions manual in getting help on a problem I'm genuinely stumped on keeping in mind that the homework is for a grade? It's a Catch-22. I want to learn the material referring to the solutions manual as a last resort, but I don't want to be guilty of "cheating" either.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  11. Sep 2, 2010 #10


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    Grading homework that has a freely available solutions manual doesn't make sense to me, grading take away exams is another kind of beast. I think as long as they are made in a way questions at www.chemistry-quizzes.info are prepared (if you have seen the link in one of the posts at CHEMED-L - it works as expected now, without a redirect), that is same question has many variants and each individual student gets his own version, that can be OK.

    As for using solutions manual... There is no "one size fits all" answer. You have to judge by yourself if you have tried hard enough before looking at solutions manual. Problem is, often you will feel you have cheated yourself AFTER you have seen the answer (OMG, it was that simple!) But there is not much that can be done about it, you just have to be honest and not cheat yourself - that's sometimes most difficult thing to do.
  12. Sep 2, 2010 #11

    George Jones

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    Do you mean a solution manual crack? Using a solution manual crack for graded homework is definitely cheating and could be formal academic misconduct.
  13. Sep 2, 2010 #12


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    Homework Helper

    solutions manuals mostly help you feel less insecure, they do not help you learn. there are two aspects to solving a problem, solving it and knowing whether you got it right. if you cannot tell whether your answer is right, you have not solved the problem completely. you need to think of an alternate way to check it, or some practical way to estimate the answer to get a rough check.

    the benefit of working homework is from doing it, not getting it right. the learning occurs in the practice as well as in trying to figure out how to check it. there are no answer books in life, so you must learn to check your own work.

    in a class i taught last year i gave homework from a book with no answers in the back as a take home, only to have one student, after receiving my answer sheet, challenge one of my answers, because "the answer on the internet was different from yours".

    first of all it is foolish to look on the internet for an answer to a take home, second it is even more foolish to challenge a real live professor based on an anonymous internet answer from some unknown rookie. it turned out the wrong internet answer was a careless mistake in an actual published book of answers for our text.

    it is hard to know how to motivate students to do homework without cheating, but one way seems to be not to grade it for accuracy.
  14. Sep 2, 2010 #13
    What is a solution manual crack?
  15. Sep 3, 2010 #14

    George Jones

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    I mean an instructor's solution manual DVD available as a torrent or similar file. If assignments are graded, using a copy (either ecopy or hardcopy) of an instructor's solution manual to complete assignments is cheating. Is the copy you have available to students from book sellers like Amazon? Using a copy of solutions that is not available in this way likely is cheating.
  16. Sep 3, 2010 #15
    The solutions are in Word. They were given to me. I don't remember where the guy found them, though.
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