Life and Musings of Ed

Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Dear Student, Here is what’s expected…

In Math Tutor on 31 October 08 at 12:52 pm

Directly from one of my favorite bloggers at Casting Out Nines:

Explaining Submitted Homework

Explaining Submitted Homework

I was just listening to the introductory lecture for an Introduction to Algorithms course at MIT, thanks to MIT Open Courseware.  The professor was reading from the syllabus on the collaboration policy for students doing homework. Here’s a piece of it:

You must write up each problem solution by yourself without assistance, however, even if you collaborate with others to solve the problem. You are asked on problem sets to identify your collaborators. If you did not work with anyone, you should write “Collaborators: none.” If you obtain a solution through research (e.g., on the Web), acknowledge your source, but write up the solution in your own words. It is a violation of this policy to submit a problem solution that you cannot orally explain to a member of the course staff. [Emphasis in the original]

So in other words, you can collaborate within reasonable boundaries as long as you cite your collaborators, but you must write up work on your own. Normal stuff for a syllabus. But what I love is the last sentence. If the professor or a TA believes that you didn’t really write up the work yourself, they can ask you to stand and deliver via an oral explanation of what you turned in. And if you can’t orally explain, on the spot, what you did to the satisfaction of the course staff, then the presumption is that you cheated.  That’s a brilliant way to ensure students understand what they are doing, and expecting students to be able to do this oral explanation is absolutely reasonable for university-level upper-division work.

Academic integrity has long been a hot topic in education, especially at the middle and secondary levels.  So many students seem to copy the homework of others, just to get it done.  One plausible explanation, stemming from my observations in classroom situations, is a rather bizarre teacher sensitivity about embarassing indivudual students by calling on them to publicly explain submitted work.  I have heard teachers argue that any embarassment of a student, in this case by exposing cheating on homework, will squelch classroom participation and ruin motivation for learning.  Notice that the way MIT is handling acedemic honesty is by setting expectations high and holding students accountable.  In this age of “no student left behind” – MIT sets a fantastic example which needs to be implemented at secondary schools everywhere.  Raise the bar!


If We Are The Body…

In Category5Ministries, Christian Education, Life and living on 29 October 08 at 4:47 pm

Listening to a local talk radio station, I heard a troubling story.  On a call in program called Let’s Talk Legal, a Vietnam Veteran named Tony said he was diagnosed with symptoms stemming from exposure to agent orange.  He had lost use of his legs and found some help through a great local veteran’s administration agent.  However, he was still in need of handicap access modifications for his bathroom and for one other door in his house.   I thought it very sad to hear him call in to  Let’s Talk Legal and ask about pursuing legal representation.

If we are the Body of Christ (calling all Christians), why aren’t our hands working to provide for this man?

Helping Hands

Helping Hands

Has no one in the Church heard of his need?  I’ll pursue this and see if I can get our local churches to help Tony get his bathroom modified.  Though I am a lousy fixit guy, I can sure swing a hammer.

CTAN — LaTeX heaven

In Math Tutor, My LaTeX Experience on 25 October 08 at 8:58 pm

If you ever need to find a way to format a document in LaTeX , whether it is a crossword puzzle, a chess match, bible references, a Ph.D. thesis, a scientific article, a greeting card, a chemistry book, … you name it!  This is the place to go.

The CTAN Masthead

The CTAN Masthead

Here I Am

In Christian Education, Life and living on 25 October 08 at 8:23 pm
Ed raises his arm -- conquers the trash

Ed raises his arm -- conquers the trash

This was a wonderful experience with my daughter, a collegue and her daughter.  Christian Education includes experiences in stewardship of God’s wonderful creation.

Math Intuition — Elementary Algebra Example

In Math Tutor on 24 October 08 at 3:10 pm

Working With AP Calculus Students

In Math Tutor on 24 October 08 at 2:22 pm

Having spent time with a number of struggling students, I often find it necessary to provide study skills assistance.  More on this later.

Need Some Study Skills Help?

Need Some Study Skills Help?