Postings to firstname.lastname@example.org. (un)subscribe to email@example.com. (un)subscribe mathedu <type in your email address here> -------official header above------posting from subscriber below------- On Fri, 31 Jan 1997 PPARKER@twsuvm.uc.twsu.edu wrote:
> We have the unfortunate phenomenon in almost all lower-division courses, > and even in some upper-division courses (mostly those for nonmajors), of > one person doing the homework and half a dozen copying it. Based on > subsequent test scores, the copiers don't learn much if anything. After > several years of trying to find a way around this, I gave up and no > longer collect any homework in such classes.
[Hello all, I'm new to the list, and I hope this is the right way to respond to a post! I teach at a small 4-year Liberal Arts college in Pennsylvania, and i'm a geometer/analyst.]
I have observed the same phenomenon, and I'm just as frustrated but...
A. I try not to generalize. Perhaps the same kids are not copying all the time. (What are the chances of that?)
B. Sometimes a heart-to-heart chat in class *does* work. I have offered to give full credit if two, just two of the problems are worked completely, provided the student signs at the bottom saying that it's all her own work. In the same vein, requiring that all work should be shown discourages copying, because it is easy to detect copied work (relatively easy, anyway...). Also in the same vein, a reduction of homework *volume* might also encourage them to do it themselves.
C. I have tried the following if the problem never lets up. I assign homework as usual, but I indicate that I will not collect it. Instead, I announce a 5-minute daily quiz on a problem picked from the homework set *at random*. The result of this ploy was that students would try exactly one problem of each set, and stop as soon as they got one right. I personally like them to get some speed by practicing, but of course that's not in line with the new conventional wisdom...but you don't get that this way.
The ultimate threat is to assign, but not collect or grade any homework. You make a great fuss about personal responsibility, etc, etc, "Mathematics is not a spectator sport," yackety yak, "it's like riding a bicycle," usw. You say that they must compile all their homework in a binder, ready for inspection. If the scores are bad, you have some ammunition, if the scores are good, you have no cause for complaint.
I wonder whether you and I manage our homework the same way? In my setup, homework is worth just 15% of their total score. Any higher, and there's a lot of plagiarism; any lower, and they don't take it seriously.
(S. de Silva Box 3 Lycoming College Williamsport PA)