Re: Googling Homework Problems


Poor little post.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 9:29 PM
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I don't actually have anything to say about the topic, but it just looked so lonely there with no comments.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-20-16 9:34 PM
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I used to be a secondary school (high school) teacher and firstly, my kids were hopeless with google. My pet theory: Having grown up with the internet "fully formed", they never went through the learning curve that people my age and above went through in terms of how to force a search engine to find you something quite specific. When I had cases of plagiarism it was almost always from the first, or occasionally second result on google, regardless of how relevant it was. That's "result", not "page".

Also, I taught physics and chemistry, in which there weren't so many knowledge-based answers. They had to apply learning, and since I often set my own questions (or at least changed the numbers when I lifted them), google would have been of limited help. In fact, google isn't a great resource for cheating in the subjects I taught - I know, as I would use it for class prep. You actually had to understand what you were asking about in order to get a useful answer, and once you understand it... Well, you no longer need to cheat using google.

Finally, I would have been delighted to see intelligent use of google. So much of modern academia is research, and being able to research something is a skill worth having. If I was at all inclined to go back into teaching (and by some miracle had classroom hours to spare) I would probably teach "how to use the internet to find things" along with the classes I did teach on "how to do revision for exams and why it is useful".

I'm not sure if that was really relevant to the OP but hey, at least it's a comment.

Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 3:30 AM
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Seeds is right, students are terrible at using Google. Their model for technology and the internet is a bunch of standalone apps one for each kind of thing. So they probably have some specific app or portal that they use for cheating, but intelligent googling isn't common.

I taught my 4th year graduate student (who's a smart guy, and programs in Haskell) about quotation marks in google searches last week.

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:35 AM
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They're terrible at using google, but traditional math problems are sufficiently easy - they can manage to just google the problem. And upper-level students are savvier about it.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:46 AM
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Why can't they search like we did, perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids today?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 6:48 AM
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A friend of mine recently assigned his students the following problem for homework: "Prove the arithmetic-geometric mean inequality: [statement of inequality]." A bunch of students just transcribed the proof from the wikipedia page, and my friend was very upset about it.

I pointed out that probably if he hadn't provided the name of the fact to be proved there would have been much lower incidence of cheating, and we got into an argument about whether it's the instructor's responsibility to take reasonable measures to safeguard against cheating. His position is that providing the name is part of the students' education (now they know what the arithmetic-geometric mean inequality is!) and they should be virtuous enough not to google even if it's easy. I think it's more educational for them to work through finding a proof and as long as they know what the inequality says, who gives a shit whether they know its proper name?

Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 7:03 AM
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I am firmly on your side - it's about teaching them to reason, and the content just provides structure. In fact, I'm starting to withhold all kinds of vocabulary until they've wrestled with the premise for a little bit, to keep it feeling like a lesson in reasoning instead of content to be covered.

(For example, I've started using "step-functions" and "integrals of step-functions" when introducing sequences and series and throughout the unit, and it seemed to clear up a lot of the major confusion on the test.)

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 7:08 AM
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Could he not tell them the name after they've done the proof?

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 7:12 AM
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My step-daughter is great at googling. She's not efficient at it, but she'll go through the 20 pages of results to get that obscure bit on info about some cartoon.

Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 7:18 AM
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9 seems like the right compromise to me.

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 7:29 AM
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I was a little grinder; I did the homework assigned, because it was assigned. I was fortunate that though it felt unfair and like too much work at the time, it wasn't. Grade and high school homework were about feeling virtuous for doing the work correctly; it was a unique enough viewpoint among my peers that I hid it.

That same "feel virtuous for doing rotework" is the only reason our house isn't a worse sty. It'll never be "run your finger and not find dust" clean, but I break the mop out only out of guilt--and the all too minor satisfaction of completing rote work when it's done. [Decluttering serves a more practical function--I can have guests over and find things--which helps keep me on task]

Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 7:59 AM
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I did homework if I thought it was helping me learn something, and not otherwise, regardless of what kind of points/grades were used. This caused some problems in high school but worked out okay after that.

Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 10:23 AM
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My kid's also terrible at googling, though she's amazing at computers in every other way. I regularly have to find things on google for her -- really simple things, too. It didn't occur to me that this was why.

I am almost certain that it hasn't occurred to her that she can use the internet to cheat on her homework. I was listening to her working with her math tutor last night, and he was (very patiently) explaining to her that she could use google to look up math formulas that she had forgotten.

(I swear to all y'all my kid is *very* bright. Despite how this sounds!)

Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 10:47 AM
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Everybody is talking about the need to train coders. I'm not a real coder, but I feel like somebody should yell at kids "At least 50% of everything is googling error messages."

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 10:52 AM
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A mathematician I'm friends with said that his point of view was always that he only ever had one chance to solve a given problem or prove a given theorem once, and that if he looked at anything online he would be forever and irreversibly robbing himself of the experience.

Posted by: Trivers | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:42 AM
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I agree, but when I try to stand up for that principle I am told that I am "scaring the customers" and I get "asked to leave the grocery store".

Posted by: Trivers | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:46 AM
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Pants. You need to wear pants.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:47 AM
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16: if you wait long enough, you'll forget the first time and have a second opportunity!

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 1:39 PM
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The "googling error messages" era of programming is the greatest. I remember the pre-Google era, and it sucked.

Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-21-16 11:27 PM
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