Suspicious questions on some of the forums

  • Thread starter pattylou
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  • #1
pattylou
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Sometimes I read a question someone has written on one of the boards here at PF. It might be a one liner, from someone who has never expressed interest in that area before, and never seems to express interest in that area again afterwards. They get a nice concise and usually correct answer, they say thanks, and that's the end of it.

I am always suspicious that what is going on in these cases - is a student posting a homework question (because they don't feeling like researching the answer on their own). So they basically repeat the question here, then take the answer they get, then hand in their homework.

And then a few weeks later they come back with another homework question.

Do you think this is a valid suspicion? What is your opinion of this sort of behavior? My opinion is that such behavior amounts to cheating, and I think it's terrible. Education isn't happening - the only thing happening is someone using the internet to get someone else to do their hoemwork.

?? Your thoughts?

edit: I'm not talking about the "homework" forums.
 
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  • #2
franznietzsche
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pattylou said:
Sometimes I read a question someone has written on one of the boards here at PF. It might be a one liner, from someone who has never expressed interest in that area before, and never seems to express interest in that area again afterwards. They get a nice concise and usually correct answer, they say thanks, and that's the end of it.

I am always suspicious that what is going on in these cases - is a student posting a homework question (because they don't feeling like researching the answer on their own). So they basically repeat the question here, then take the answer they get, then hand in their homework.

And then a few weeks later they come back with another homework question.

Do you think this is a valid suspicion? What is your opinion of this sort of behavior? My opinion is that such behavior amounts to cheating, and I think it's terrible. Education isn't happening - the only thing happening is someone using the internet to get someone else to do their hoemwork.

?? Your thoughts?

edit: I'm not talking about the "homework" forums.


I've never seen physics problems that were one line, so if they can get all the info they need from a one line question, it doesn't sound at all like they're having someone else do the problem.
 
  • #3
Evo
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Your suspicions are probably correct. Any specific forum that you are seeing this in?
 
  • #4
honestrosewater
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I sometimes ask questions in forums that I don't frequent. It happens when something I'm working on spills into another field and when I just become curious about something or decide to check out a new forum. This could explain what's happening in some of the cases you're talking about. None of my questions were homework (I don't think they sounded like homework either). Someone may also be reading posts in a forum and discover a question that way. I read posts in Cosmology and Astronomy but haven't asked any questions there yet; I've started to ask questions there several times, but couldn't even figure out how to ask them. :rolleyes:
 
  • #5
Chi Meson
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I tell my students to use this forum as a resource. If a student asks one of my assigned homework questions, they will usually get an answer similar to what they could have read in the book. Often they get answers that are WAY over the scope of the class (e.g. a simple electromagnetism question gets a response involving Maxwell's eqs), so often the response is no help at all.

I don't give a lot of weight to homework. They can copy from far too easily. Whichever way they do it, if they learn it, that's what's important.
 
  • #6
wolram
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I ask questions, some times the answer is obvious and a little more thought
on my part would have negated the question.
Other times the answer shows i need to learn a lot more before asking it again.
 
  • #7
pattylou
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Chi Meson said:
I tell my students to use this forum as a resource. If a student asks one of my assigned homework questions, they will usually get an answer similar to what they could have read in the book. Often they get answers that are WAY over the scope of the class (e.g. a simple electromagnetism question gets a response involving Maxwell's eqs), so often the response is no help at all.

I don't give a lot of weight to homework. They can copy from far too easily. Whichever way they do it, if they learn it, that's what's important.
I guess this gets into different teaching styles. A significant portion of my students claim "test anxiety" and tests are a somewhat artificial way of assessing competence in any event (i,e, in the "real world" problems don't come out of a textbook, and people troubleshoot together.) (Edit: Tests still make up 50% of the final grade. Other areas that contribute are lab skills, class presentations, etc.)

So I tend to weight homeworks marginally more than you probably do, but the questions wouldn't have answers that you get straight from reading a book. There'd be synthesis involved in getting the right answer, application of ideas from one area to another, etc.

I don't mind students working through problems together on homework; provided this means they are doing some collaborative work. SImply posting a question and taking the answer given by someone else looks like no work on the part of the sutudent, and *that's* what I'd have a problem with.
 
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  • #8
Evo
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I have to agree with Patty, a student posting a homework question on the internet and copying the answer is unlikely to have learned anything. I would urge members to think about a question before blurting out an answer, if it seems it could be a student fishing for an easy answer, you might want to lead them towards working on an answer as opposed to just handing it to them.
 
  • #9
Moonbear
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Patty, if you see a question that looks suspiciously like a homework question and it doesn't meet the same criteria of a student showing their work/attempts first, as is required in the homework section, sometimes a quick response such as, "This looks like a homework question; tell us your thoughts first and we'll guide you to an answer," is all it takes...if nothing else, it alerts others who might respond that it's likely homework so they don't just give away the full answer without drawing some effort from the person making the request.

I think the difficulty we still have is those other students who have just learned the material themselves who are eager to demonstrate their new knowledge and jump into answer another student's question quickly without the insight a teacher has of the need to guide a student to their own answer.
 
  • #10
Chi Meson
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Evo said:
I have to agree with Patty, a student posting a homework question on the internet and copying the answer is unlikely to have learned anything. I would urge members to think about a question before blurting out an answer, if it seems it could be a student fishing for an easy answer, you might want to lead them towards working on an answer as opposed to just handing it to them.

In my classes, the easiest answers are never the ones that my students ask about, and the tougher ones (involving synthesis of concepts)...
well I am always aware of a student trying to regurgitate a difficult response that they don't really understand. They give themselves away if they copy word for word (their responses sound far too knowlegable) and in trying to paraphrase, then they do either learn something, or demonstrate the extent of their misunderstanding.

In short, I would agree with Evo that we should not too quickly blurt explanations; use your best judgments, but I would not worry about it too much either way.
 
  • #13
matthyaouw
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Hahaha! Did you ever find out who it was?
 
  • #14
Chi Meson
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matthyaouw said:
Hahaha! Did you ever find out who it was?
I did know who he was due to a previous question he asked. He had no idea that his own teacher gave him the answer. When the homework was graded, he was the only one whose answer included the particular phrase I used.
https://www.physicsforums.com/search.php?searchid=253500 [Broken]
 
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  • #15
Artman
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pattylou said:
Do you think this is a valid suspicion? What is your opinion of this sort of behavior? My opinion is that such behavior amounts to cheating, and I think it's terrible. Education isn't happening - the only thing happening is someone using the internet to get someone else to do their hoemwork.
Hey, wasn't this question on an ethics exam I saw once? :tongue: :biggrin:

Yeah, I've seen that too. I think is is cheating. If they state up front it is a homework question, we can tailor our answer to help without giving them the answer.
 
  • #16
FredGarvin
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Chi...that is priceless!

The sure fire giveaway that someone is here for homework only is the post count. Also, most times I will look at the poster's other threads and usually they are all asking very "homework-esqu" questions. I know I have been guilty of spoon feeding answers from time to time, but I think for the most part, we make them work for the help they get.
 
  • #17
MaxS
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Its not cheating! Its research!
:wink:
 
  • #19
quantumdude
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Chi Meson said:
I thought you might like this one:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=18612

I remember another one like that from last year. Some kid posted something a question and a couple people helped him with it. Then there was a post in the thread that said something like:

"This is your teacher. This assigment was supposed to be done ON YOUR OWN. I know who you are, and you are going to get a zero for this term."

If I find it, I'll post a link here.
 
  • #20
Moonbear
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Tom Mattson said:
I remember another one like that from last year. Some kid posted something a question and a couple people helped him with it. Then there was a post in the thread that said something like:

"This is your teacher. This assigment was supposed to be done ON YOUR OWN. I know who you are, and you are going to get a zero for this term."

If I find it, I'll post a link here.
:rofl: Maybe those should be put at the top of the homework help forum as warnings that teachers actually do sometimes check up on their students here. :biggrin: :devil:
 
  • #21
The_Professional
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Chi Meson said:
I did know who he was due to a previous question he asked. He had no idea that his own teacher gave him the answer. When the homework was graded, he was the only one whose answer included the particular phrase I used.
https://www.physicsforums.com/search.php?searchid=253500 [Broken]

Did you fail him? :devil:
 
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  • #22
quantumdude
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Moonbear said:
:rofl: Maybe those should be put at the top of the homework help forum as warnings that teachers actually do sometimes check up on their students here. :biggrin: :devil:

Kind of like mounting heads on stakes as a warning?
 
  • #23
honestrosewater
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Tom Mattson said:
Kind of like mounting heads on stakes as a warning?
Ooh, babies on spikes! It's the American Dream. :biggrin:
 
  • #24
Chronos
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No doubt a number of disguised homework questions are asked here [and all over the internet]. I see no particular harm in that. It gets pretty obvious when someone here is 'abusing the system' [like asking for quantitative answers in the non-homework forums]. Besides, most teachers are not so easily fooled by work that is obviously not that of their students. The responsibility of the student is to reverse engineer the answer then put it in their own words.
 
  • #25
Gokul43201
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Patty, for the most part, the mentors, when they can, are able to identify problems that are potentially homework problems, and move such threads to the Homework Help forum, where the OP has to meet the requirements of showing own work before hoping to get help.

Too often, homework problems posted in other forums get completely answered before a mentor gets to look at it. If you see complete solutions provided to possibly homework problems, and the OP has not shown any original effort, do not hesitate to use the REPORT POST feature.
 
  • #26
Moonbear
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Tom Mattson said:
Kind of like mounting heads on stakes as a warning?
That's pretty much the image I had in mind when I suggested that. :rofl:
 
  • #27
Chi Meson
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The_Professional said:
Did you fail him? :devil:
He did not fail. He did not do very well either. This is why I say it just does not matter too much when it's homework. (I no longer give take-home exams, though). THis kid, by the way, left the remainder of that exam question unfinished, so he got no credit anyway for the help he wanted.
 
  • #28
Moonbear
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Chi Meson said:
He did not fail. He did not do very well either. This is why I say it just does not matter too much when it's homework. (I no longer give take-home exams, though). THis kid, by the way, left the remainder of that exam question unfinished, so he got no credit anyway for the help he wanted.
As long as homework isn't weighted too much in the grade, it only hurts the student to have someone else give them answers since it means they aren't learning it for themselves. This becomes quickly apparent at quiz or exam time. Very few homework assignments were graded at all by the time I was in high school. Most of the textbooks had solutions to either the odd or even numbered problems, so the teachers would assign the ones with solutions so we could check our own work and would know to ask for help if we weren't getting the right answers or didn't understand the solution. Going WAY back, our Algebra teacher (we had her for both Algebra I and II) would collect our notebooks once or twice per quarter. All she checked was that we were taking notes and doing our homework, not whether we were getting the right answers on the homework. (Checking notebooks also meant she could pinpoint which students were having difficulties due to deficiencies in their note-taking ability and could help correct that.)
 

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