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Teacher Assistant Keeps Giving Class The Answers. grrr

  1. Jan 27, 2009 #1
    For my transition into advanced mathematics class, the teacher's-assistant we got for my lab section keeps giving us the answers to the harder proofs that we get as assignments each week.

    He is clearly not supposed to, in fact today he said something along the lines of "I hope nobody here is ratting me out to Dr. _____; I don't know why someone would want to." like he's doing us a favor. Ok, maybe he's doing favor to the students who don't want to actually learn anything and just want to pass. -- since the labs are on Tuesday, a lot of the time I haven't even gotten to doing the assignment yet, so I have to try really hard to distract myself, because I really don't want to hear the answer. But it's quite hard to not listen to somebody when you're trying to not listen to them :rofl: the mind is tricky that way.

    what should I do? I don't want to be a rat, but it's starting to annoy me; especially when I've worked to figure out the trickier questions on my own, and he goes on to pretty much hand them as freebies.

    I hope the proff realizes there is something fishy going on. It'd look pretty odd to me if I saw that all of the assignments are correct from one and only one lab each week.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2009 #2
    Damn you social norms!

    I would've talked to the assistant about it, ask him to give "proper" students a chance not to cheat. (or something like that.)
  4. Jan 27, 2009 #3
    Not in advanced math classes as yet, but surely the working out is important rather than the answer, or do you mean the whole answer? If you learn the answer then you've essentially learnt nothing more than if you have the answer to:

    [tex]\int e^{x^2}\; dx[/tex]

  5. Jan 27, 2009 #4
    I don't see what the problem is. Even if you know the answer to the proof, who cares. Text books are filled with problems and if you don't want to read them, then make up your own. If you plan on going to grad school you better get used to creating challenges for yourself anyway.
  6. Jan 27, 2009 #5
    yea, he works out the entire problem.

    and it bothers me because:

    a) i don't want to hear the answer because I want to do it own my own.
    b) it's not fair to people who actually do the work that slackers will get the same marks.
    c) I'm no buddha. I'm human, I like to get credit for doing a job properly, and, equally, it bothers me to see someone else get something for free that I worked for.
    d) just for the principle of the thing. it's just wrong. i think integrity or whatever, is important even on small stupid stuff like this.
    e) i'm in a rotten mood this week.
  7. Jan 27, 2009 #6


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    Isn't that other people's problem? If you enjoy the learning, then be maybe be happy with that? That's what you can control. Your learning. Your integrity.

    Come exam time and beyond, when the associate isn't there whispering the answer, who will be better equipped to get the job done? The exercised muscle, or the unexercised one?

    Now e) ... that's a good reason.
  8. Jan 27, 2009 #7


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    I'd send him an e-mail, and express your frustration. Tell him if he continues to do it, you will consider going to the prof to ask for the practice to stop, because you feel it's compromising your education.

    Having the conversation in writing would be a good thing, and should make your TA pay attention.
  9. Jan 28, 2009 #8


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    Sounds to me like you're either jealous that your classmates get the answers without having to work them out for themselves, or you're annoyed you won't get the recognition for doing it yourself. Otherwise you'd just take yourself somewhere you can't hear the answers, do them yourself, and be content that you're learning and they're not.
  10. Jan 28, 2009 #9


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    This is pretty straightforward. Send your Prof an email about the TA. What is happening is not right and must be corrected.
  11. Jan 28, 2009 #10
    I wouldn't say "jealous" is the right word... I was a slacker in high-school, and if I thought being a slacker is a quality in any way worth envying I wouldn't be working so hard right now to undo what 19 years of slacking did.

    And I'm not particularly proud of the fact that I can't just "let it be" and concentrate on my own work, but I can't; it just bothers me... they're not even terribly hard proofs or anything; it's a first-year course-- all they require is a little work. It's pure laziness is what it is.

    I still enjoy the class and everything, I'm not that bitter; it's just like a fly landed on my ice-cream.
  12. Jan 28, 2009 #11
    Yes I'm considering sending an e-mail to the TA himself if he does it again. I'm not a very confrontational person so it'll be hard for me to do, especially since he seems like a nice guy otherwise lol ... I wouldn't send an e-mail to the proff though unless it was something more major.
  13. Jan 28, 2009 #12


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    In that case, be prepared for any backlash that may come your way.
  14. Jan 28, 2009 #13


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    I would negociate my silence o:) :biggrin:
  15. Jan 28, 2009 #14
  16. Jan 28, 2009 #15


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    I wouldn't confront the guy. I'd simply tell the department head what was happening and let them deal with it.
  17. Jan 28, 2009 #16
    a) Then don't attend his SI sessions.
    b) Nothing in life, including college, is fair. Get used to it.
    c) If your in school just to get a pat on the head, get out now and don't come back. You're either there for a formal education or to play the game.
    d) Right and wrong is just perception. How do you know most of the students aren't learning more from example than from practice?
    e) So am I, but I would just let it go.
  18. Jan 28, 2009 #17
    a) This is exactly what would bother me about it.
    b) In my math classes homework has always been 10% or less of the final grade. Bottom line: Failing the tests but acing homework is still failing.
    c) They aren't getting something you worked for, for free. The point of homework is to learn material, it isn't to get a certain grade on your homework.
    d) True.

    Just mention that hints would go a lot further than straight out answers. Maybe avoid going to your lab for the first x amount of minutes. Now, is he giving detailed solutions to all the problems or just a few?
  19. Jan 28, 2009 #18
    In our department, you'd just get sent back to the TA and professor. Try to work it out at the lowest level first by talking with the TA... then if needed to the professor. Again, email does at least give a form of written account, perhaps send an email to the TA requesting a meeting, then send a follow-up email summarizing the meeting and thanking the TA for his/her time.
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