Homework Help Section

In other forums I am a member of there are homework help sections.
In these sections there are different rules for providing help, in that experienced users are supposed to provide guidance to help students understand how to craft the answer, rather than providing the answer.

I debated about pointing out examples of posts that provide guidance and posts that do the work for the student, but I decided against it as it would call out users and that's not what this post is about. With a bit of research in forum topics it's easy to see that many students leave here with their homework pretty much done for them. Isn't this something to be concerned about?

From ### Homework

We get a lot of questions from students wanting help with their homework. Such questions are generally one of two kinds: Questions by students who are obviously making a real effort but have got stuck; these get helpful answers. Questions from students who are obviously not making any effort at all and just want someone to do their homework for them; these usually get a lecture. By all means, post homework questions when you are stuck, but make sure you've put some effort in first.

There is no real rule about how much help should or should not be provided.

I feel like doing homework for students is academically dishonest and ultimately does a disservice to the student and that this topic should at least be discussed if it has not already.

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It is common on this forum to see requests for help from students, sometimes in the form of a direct copy of their assignment and sometimes disguised as a real quest for help with a personal project

In such cases I tend to give more general replies rather than posting specific solutions, but if someone is going to take the trouble to disguise their request for help with homework I very much doubt that they would post in a homework specific section

It is difficult enough to get people to post programming questions in the Programming section already without adding more complication

The topic does get discussed to some extent in response to many of the more egregious homework "help" topics.

Some of the forum regulars are pretty good at sensing when someone is trying to scam us into doing their assignment for them, and they are quick to explain that's not how it works here.

I don't like to see students miss a valuable opportunity to learn and have fun with embedded systems when someone writes their code for them, but I also don't have an interest in micromanaging the people who take the time to provide assistance here on the forum.

There is a most notable case that has happened over the past couple days. Defined as a school project and all but done for the student.
In this specific case the student relied 100% asking about every single aspect of the project instead of researching any topics on their own. In the end the were given quite a project by our user base. I'd bet more than a dollar that if all that stuff was disassembled and the user was just provided with code examples for each item in their machine that they would have no earthly clue how to build it again.

I really didn't see any concern about it being a school project.

On the flip-side, it's difficult to watch someone struggle with something when you have the answer and can fix it for them.

I wouldn't say this concept needs micromanaging as much as a defined set of rules, a gentlemen's agreement to abide by them, and a small amount of transition time being monitored to establish a groove with the experienced users who provide most of the answers in general.

I, too, am concerned that some of us tend to give "too much" help to pupils and students with their assignments.

It seems clear to me that we are not helping them when we do most of the work for them. FWIW, I actually feel that way about most of the other enquiries, too - it is almost always better to provide guidance rather than a solution, because I want people who visit here to leave with new knowledge and expertise, not just some working code that they don't really understand.

I think that's particularly important with young visitors; we don't want to reward manipulative behaviour or ducking responsibility, and we do want to encourage resourcefulness, self-reliance, ownership and proactive enquiry.

I completely understand that most of us love a challenge: we are solution- and goal-orientated, and get a kick from creating things and fixing things. Plus, it's good for our egos to receive the respect and gratitude of someone who was struggling and now thinks we walk on water! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:. So the temptation to metaphorically roll our eyes and say "Give it here, I'll do it" is hard to resist.

This whole thing is a judgement call - it's all about extent. And the above are only my opinions, others may feel completely differently.

I would sum up my position thus: "Don't provide solutions, provide guidance."


Can you please provide a link to the topic

I was trying to avoid posting specific threads, but as you've asked directly: https://forum.arduino.cc/t/help-needed-school-project/879206

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Yep - that student/pupil appears to have learned nothing at all except that "manipulative works".

I would also like to see the forum have formally defined rules. We've only ever had "guidelines". But I don't think we are organized enough to accomplish something like that so a randomly accumulated set of guidelines is the best we can hope for.

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My motivation for this thread comes from my work as a teacher where I'm handed a student who has passed many computer courses yet barely knows where the power button is. Too often when I watch them work stack overflow, python-forum.io and Arduino forum are the goto places for them to "do" their homework. Including going so far as to use code spinners to produce an answer that's a little different that what you'd find online to avoid cheat detecting algorithms. It's become such a problem that I can't trust hiring programmers with degrees without extensively testing them in many areas personally before I trust them to work with any of my students or customers. That's changed drastically since the turn of the century.

Are you a member of python-forum.io?
Their homework section is top-flight. and a good model. I was actually censured there once because the mod thought I provided too much help on an answer. On reviewing it the mod saw that I provided topics and general guidance only and reinstated my post. For blind students asking for help, they are the model to emulate, imho.

Both good points.

I've been rolling this around since last night so these ideas are only half-baked.
What if we had a section for homework
Any member could flag a post as homework so it would be moved there if needed
The forum bot could auto reply with a set of recommended rules for all users and soft-lock the post if it doesn't have code
In general the rest of the system would be self-governing and only when necessary would a mod need to dedicate any time to actually reviewing the post beyond the normal time necessary
These long with a more clearly defined set of homework rules in the forum guidelines might go a long way to at least diminishing this problem.

I don't see no good reason for a separate section homework. Even a homework should fit in one of the existing topics. either general project questions, or some specific programming question. Everthing is covered already.

@er_name_not_found: If you don't like to help for homework - just don't post. Others will recognize "homework" also and will act according to their will.

absolute agree.
It's up to anyone what he is doing with his spare time.

You clearly missed the point.
I have no problem helping people with their homework.

What I have a problem with is people who are part of academia clearly and repeatedly violating academic integrity.
Ultimately it's cheating and it not only doesn't help the student in the long run, but actually becomes a major hindrance.

Please, try to read my posts before you imply any laziness on my part. I work very hard to repair issues caused by this increasing trend in using forums to cheat on a regular basis and I have been for over 20 years now.

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My grandfather tended to say:
"Oberlehrer findest du überall."

If you feel that I might have implied this or that - please try to read my post again. None of my words are judgements of your behaviour nor your personality.

Hello everyone,
My question here does not define whether I am against or in favor of a separation of homework topics.
It is asking how it would be operationalized.
In the forum we have several categories depending on the subject.
If create a category for homewor, should it have sub-categories?
Who would enter the homework category?
If the author of the topic, he says it's homework?
If a moderator? More workload for the moderators?
My suggestion: How about then if in the topic:

suggest that in the topic title author write "Homework".
If the author has the right attitudes he will write, if not, even though he has a separate category he will not put it there.

RV mineirin

What proportion of new users do you think actually read that section and out of those that do, what proportion do you think take note of the advice it contains ?

Just look at the number of topics opened in the wrong forum section and the number of times that code is posted without code tags

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No, a single homework category would do.

The homework category would need to be outlined more clearly in How to get the best out of this forum. In that users asking for homework help out of the homework section will have their posts moved to homework section and users giving complete solutions rather than proper guidance and examples will have their replies removed. A flag as homework selection would need to be added to the flag options.
That's all, nothing more to it.

It does require more work on the part of the moderators and on the part of the regular users. Yes, I recognize that I'm asking for that, but it comes with the reward of integrity. From a homework standpoint, that is currently lacking and my apologies for saying so.

Hopefully more if we make a point of it.
I get your concern though.

I completely agree, but being there helps in cases where people act by the rules.
For Those who act outside the rules nothing helps.

RV mineirin