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Request for new forum: Homework Assignments

 
Bartender
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Greetings,

As an old member that said the they would never ask for a new forum, I am not breaking my word. I request that we have a forum for Homework Assignments (or better yet Obvious Homework Assignments).

My rational is this:

We have here an excellent professional site and being both a SW professional and an instructor/professor I had sent my students here. The problem being is that professional problems and homework problems are two different animals.

As a professional we want answers (ie: code snippets) that point us in the correct direction. As students we want answers (ie: fully documented, ready to submit, projects) whereas what is really needed is (usually) is a series of questions posted to the student of how to question themself to progress.

Also, we have a difference in 'real world implementation'. That is, most instructors want the students to implement an algorithm as pure as possible, then in class they can discuss pros/cons (only to leave the student with a totally misplaced understanding of the afore mentioned algorthim only to have the newbe totally crushed by the first team code review :-) .

So while I hate the idea, I think the time has come - I see too many HWPs being answered as real world problems (note: this is only for the the answerers and not the questioners) that show real understanding of all of the issues and time spent answering at a level that is not appriciated by the recipiant.

Thank you and have a plesent tomorrow.

-steve
Steve Fahlbusch

ps: i don't expect that you enact this, it's just that i see a lot of helpful folks answering 'academic' questions in a real world frame of reference - and we all know the later takes a whole lot more effort and time.
 
Ranch Hand
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No, there are enough places for kids to post their homework assignments and get the complete worked out solutions.
This is not a site like that.

Also, there should be no difference between the work of a student and that of someone doing it as a profession except the complexity (possibly) of the problems involved.
The solution to problem X is no different if it is done by a 15 year old kid at school as compared to a 35 year old pro working for a bank.
By giving the kid some other dumbed down solution you're doing him (as a teacher) and his future coworkers a disservice as you're teaching him improper ways of solving realworld problems.
 
Steve Fahlbusch
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You seem to have misunderstood what I had suggested.

First, no they should not get the solution here.

And second, no the answer should not be dumbed down.

And I don't think that I suggested either.

When I teach, to be effective I must answer technical questions much differently then when I respond to co-workers (even very junior co-workers). It's not that I treat these folks with any less respect, but the answers tend to require more background information and more context, and usually this is a more iterative activity.

But there are radically different approaches when we have homework assignments and real world projects. One could argue that there should be no differnce between real world and academic solutions. That's great in theory, but there are major differences between school work and work work.

That's the way life is.

I was recommending a way for our visitors that had questions about Homework to have a common place for that (not to exclude, or dumb down or do their work for them) but to place a context on the suitability of the solution.
[ October 16, 2006: Message edited by: Steve Fahlbusch ]
 
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Steve Fahlbusch,

Thanks for your suggestion. This has been discussed in the past. One thought was that if we had a centralized place specifically for homework type questions, it would be easier for us to discourage it's abuse rather than having it run amuck in many forums. Ultimately though the decision was made to not provide a forum specifically for homework questions. I believe a major concern was that we felt like by providing such a forum, JavaRanch might be promoting cheating, even though we had the best intentions for it.

That isn't to say we shouldn't evaluate the suggestion again. So don't feel like you are being ingored or that we aren't listening. A lot goes on behind closed doors (The Moderator's Only forum).

My own personaly opinion on having a Homework questions forum is how many different questions might get asked about different technologies. Currently we have forums for Servlets, JSP, Swing, IO, Streams, ORM, you get the idea. We can't possibly recreate this specific forums just for a homework category. It would be a bit of a nightmare to address so many different things in a single forum.
 
Jeroen T Wenting
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And the opportunity for a major duplication of effort. Almost nothing is specific to homework questions (except the "no, we're not going to do it for you") so you'd get potentially useful answers for one forum posted in another requiring crosslinking or crossposting, referring people elsewhere where their question was answered last week, etc. etc. even more than is already the case.
 
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Yeah thats the probably with non-real world and tutorials. People are trying to use them so they can do work in the real world. Yet how many program assignments and tutorials have lines like



The problem with this is many times deciding how to handle these exceptions is harder than the problem in the first place. For instance



So new guy comes along and copys this code and gets his threads working. Then someday he needs to write a multi-threaded app. So he writes this code again. Of course he is told he better handle all exceptions so he does something like this.




But wait this doesn't compile. Poor new guy hasn't been taught how to deal with exceptions in interfaces that don't throw them, because it was a waste of time to deal with exception handling in the code that taught him to do it. Alas Poor New Guy, we knew yee not well.
 
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Also, Steve, I'm not sure I agree with your basic premise -- which I do feel that I understand. My experience is that an alarming number of working professionals do, whether they know it or not, need all that background information, and we're happy to provide it. Therefore I think singling out students might even be counterproductive: by making it clear who is a student and who is not, you may make it harder for some of these working folks to ask basic questions publically.
 
Sheriff
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I can see the logic, but I'm not so sure that the end result would be what you are hoping for.

As you pointed out: what the students want, and what the instructors want for the students can often be quite different things. Most students I have encountered do not want is a thoughful discussion of the background and impact of the problem and possible solutions. They don't (usually) even want a few quick pointers for their own further study. What they want is a quick answer to paste in to complete an assignment due immediately.

I find it hard to imagine that many students would actually ever get around to participating in the sort of "teaching rather than solving" forum which is being suggested here. As soon as they realized that they were more likely to get a code snippet in the "professional" forums, they would never return to the homework corner.

Let's face it, the homework requesters who come here now could have spent time with colleagues, tutors, books or even practicing on their own. But they have not done this. Instead they came here for a "quick fix".

Can you suggest any ways to solve this?
 
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I too, don't agree with the premise that "professional developers" prefer code snippets. I'll admit that in a firefight situation, I will take a code snippet. But when I get a breather, I always go back to understand the subject -- preferrably in full detail.

Think about it, if you encountered something once, you will encounter it again. And if a code snippet can solve your problem, imagine what can be done, if you fully understand the subject.

Henry
 
Trailboss
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When a good student comes here, they are trying to learn. When they post to a forum that is frequented by professionals (also trying to learn) they can help each other out. If the students went to separate forum, I wonder if the help might be harder to find.

A good student is going to ask the same kinds of questions that a good professional might ask. And code snippets may or may not be of help.

The problem comes when a poor student comes and asks people to do their work for them. Just as when some putz got a job through a fake resume and needs somebody to do their work for them.

People answer questions for a variety of reasons. A good one is that it helps to build ones own knowledge. If you answer a question, you are taking a stand and asking others to verify that you are correct. Through this process, the person answering the question has the opportunity to grow also.

Jerks that try to get their stuff done for them are usually refused help. Who wants to help out icky people? Often, people far more charming than I am, will attempt to help the person understand enough to be able to do it on their own.

Back to the topic at hand --- I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a reason for a separate forum for students. We're all students.
 
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