homework! (a rant)

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by zimv20, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #1
    i must confess i find it somewhat depressing to see 1) so many people asking for others to do their homework for them, and 2) so many people willing to do it.

    maybe i'm just old and grumpy, but when i was learning the ropes there was no WWW and i certainly struggled through and did my own work.

    and as i get older, still earning a living as a software developer/engineer/designer/architect/whatever, i'm always worried that the kids who actually grew up w/ the web, computers at home, and a myriad of wonderful technologies and information literally at their fingertips would displace me like the steam powered hammer did John Henry.

    but it's not happening. the "developers" i see coming out of school are, for the most part, lazy, uncurious and completely unable to figure out anything on their own. sure, there are exceptions, and i won't pretend that when i was starting out this wasn't also the case, but my fears above are largely unfounded. disturbingly unfounded.

    so what's the deal? when the kids come here and unashamedly ask for "help" with their homework, is this a symptom of a larger issue? or am i just seeing the bad side in both situations? i don't expect kids coming out of college to be awesome, but... i do expect them to know how to test the code they themselves write. or how to pound away at it until it works. or at the very least, be able to read a compiler error and know wtf it's on about.

    experienced developers, are you seeing the same thing? what gives?
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #2
    I mostly feel the same way, but I do occasionally dish out some help. Just take heart in the situation: all these kids leaving school or University should be chasing up the ladder real quick snapping at our heals for the really good, well paid jobs. But as they've never bothered to learn anything they don't get there leaving the good pickings to us :)
     
  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #3
    Future worthless managers and CEOs in training, along with people falling in line for future work as underpaid slaves.

    Getting help understanding a concept is one thing, plain doing a hard problem for the spoon fed babies is another.
     
  4. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #4
    yeah, i definitely don't mind helping people, but there's a difference between a point in the right direction and having to stand over someone's shoulder and having to tell them what to type.

    "you should use a dictionary there" or "why don't you let the derived classes handle that" are the kinds of things i like to think developers can hear and go off and do. but it's getting more and more rare that such help is sufficient.

    heck, i'm seeing more magic numbers and strings lately than i have in the past 20 years.

    is it a societal thing? is getting it done more important than putting forth effort to make it last?
     
  5. dcr macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2002
    #5
    The absolute best part about the homework questions here is that a Google search is usually enough information to find the university, the course, its instructor, and the THE ACTUAL ASSIGNMENT (copy/pasted into the forum) they're too lazy to do for themselves.

    And from there it's one quick email to a hearing for academic dishonesty and its consequences.

    So think about that before you ask us to do your homework assignment.
     
  6. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #6
    Why be a jackass? Nobody likes an e-snitch. If you don't want to help them, move along.
     
  7. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #7
    I wouldn't cheat on a homework assignment, even if I might not get caught, because I would know I cheated.

    (By the way, I didn't want to have to write the previous sentence myself, so I looked around on the Internet until I found a pre-written sentence I could use.) ;)
     
  8. demallien macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    #8
    What Robbie Duncan said...

    Actually, when I'm feeling particularly mean, I have been known to give answers that seem to give the correct answer, but are a) badly coded, and b) will fail on subte edge cases. I'm always hoping that the person assessing will get the joke and fail the student.

    As an added bonus, said student learns nothing, and if there's a decent exam component to the course, they'll fail there too.
     
  9. Jasonbot macrumors 68020

    Jasonbot

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Location:
    The Rainbow Nation RSA
    #9
    If anyone's annoyed with my asking of programming non-homework help please note: I'm top of my IT class and regularly get 100%'s for programming.
     
  10. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #10
    Well the forums aren't much different than talking to the teacher assistants or working together with classmates. Forums are just the e version of it. I've even had teachers basically give me the answers to assignments. That said, I do try to only guide people asking about homework.
     
  11. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    #11
    You know, I don't really mind all that much and contribute when I can.

    The reality is, some kids can't see the forest for the trees and need a little "Oh Jeez, was that all?" moment in their lives.

    For the ones just leaching to get by... They find homes in corporate America too, they just never amount to technology leaders. Mostly they end up being the customer liasons or spend their careers skating by.

    I also don't believe in actively going out of one's way to find the school / teacher / assignment and relaying the conversations. There's something wrong with you if you feel that need.
     
  12. iSee macrumors 68040

    iSee

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    #12
    I think the rant is off-base.

    Everybody programming, and especially students, needs a little help or a fresh perspective once in a while. And, interacting with a variety of experienced programmers is a great way to learn. Often, all kinds of interesting advice comes out in the discussions that follow even simple questions. A lot of this is stuff you probably won't get in the classroom.

    Also, most of what I've seen going on in this forum is legitimate help, not kids getting someone else to do their homework for them.

    When a student gets stuck on a problem, a she or he should ask questions and get advice. That's a good, curious, engaged student, not a lazy, incurious, skater.

    Anyway, I know maybe the OP was talking about the abuses that sometimes do occur here, but I don't want people asking for or giving legitimate help to get scared off. Here's my basic rule of thumb when deciding whether someone is asking for too much:

    Did the person take a decent crack at the problem already? Student's should always engage the problem themselves first and put some decent effort into overcoming the issues they encounter. For example, they should post the code they've written so far, or should write out their thoughts on solving the problem, so far.

    If a student has engaged the problem, when they finally get the answer, whether through their own efforts alone or with help, they are much, much more likely to learn something from the experience when they do get the right answer.

    And then, when answering the question, I try to understand exactly what they got stuck on and give them a good hint on what to look for and why (unless it's a trivial problem like a missing ; or whatever). That is, lead them right up to the answer, but let them make the final connection. If they can do that, then a real, live learning experience has taken place!
     
  13. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #13
    When helping with homework, I offer clues/tips, or help point out the next step, or flaws in the students work so far, rather than give them the answer outright. This is the same when I help a student in person or through the forums.

    If they have any interest at all in learning the material, not just meeting a deadline, they should appreciate that. If they really want to cheat, I can't prevent that, but I won't be a knowing contributor to it.
     
  14. iKwick7 macrumors 65816

    iKwick7

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Location:
    The Wood of Spots, NJ
    #14
    I was forced to take a programming class in college- as an architecture student I felt (and still feel) it was unnecessary. The class was taught by a TA that barely spoke English and hardly knew anything. Any kind of programming assignment that I couldn't handle I would email my brother, who is great at that sort of thing, and have it back in a few minutes. Cheating? Yes. O well.

    Never had anyone else do work for me in any other class. Note sharing? Awesome (I copied all of my notes for an Ancient History class I had for quite a few people in the class, loved that class- only class I ever took where I was present every day). Copying someones homework once you graduate High School? Eh- whatever. Not really for me, but who cares. Don't give people your work, simple as that.
     
  15. jaydub macrumors 6502a

    jaydub

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    #15
    I work at a University and I see this every day. It's frustrating that there's a sense of entitlement; not only to the answers, but also to the grades themselves. I have tried to remind students that grades are earned, not given. However, that usually doesn't go very far, as there's a belief that if one pays for a class, they should automatically pass it with minimal effort.

    I'm an old undergrad - 30 and I'll be graduating this December. I feel very out of place at times, but it's still a rewarding experience because I have wanted to learn more.
     
  16. kainjow Moderator emeritus

    kainjow

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2000
    #16
    I think programming is pretty confusing for people who are first introduced to it at their schools. In all my programming classes I've yet to take, I was always helping everyone because they don't understand the syntax or concepts. In addition you usually don't get an American professor, but some dude from Russia who talks about his vodka cakes (at least that's what it was for me ;)). So I can understand the questions. Plus, the fall semester/quarter has just begun, so I bet it will drop off in about a month once everyone settles into their classes and understand the basics.
     
  17. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #17
    Of course you mean to say MR is scoring 100%. Hate to break it to you, I saw your hangman assignment, and you don't even come close to having l33t programming skills that you claim to possess.

    That said, I totally agree with zimv - and I think part of the issue is the tooling has become so easy, that you don't have to focus on algorithms, data structures, OO, or even the language you happen to be using...

    I always push language before tooling and problem solving before language. I'd love to see the MR programming community offer less code, and more ideas....but that could be just me.
     
  18. iKwick7 macrumors 65816

    iKwick7

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Location:
    The Wood of Spots, NJ
    #18

    The TA for one of my science lab classes at my Community college was Russian. That man was awesome though. He then became a professor the following year and many of us had him again for the following class. We were very happy to have him as a real professor. Very nice guy. I also saw him like a year later while I was bartending. He remembered me. Bought him a few drinks, of course. :)
     
  19. toddburch macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Location:
    Katy, Texas
    #19
    Hey, can I bring "my" homework assignment here? Here's what I deal with every day:

    Hooked modules running in either 31-bit mode or 64-bit mode. Operating in Key 7, cross memory mode, running inside a program call instruction. Sometime Task Mode, sometimes SRB mode. Most always in AR mode. I get to establish a recovery environment, because I'm scanning for undocumented, non-supported statistics with no for API. I change to Key 0, make sure I'm in 31 bit mode, and do my thing. All statistcs I gather I copy into a dataspace, and when the transaction I'm keeping track of ends, I do a cross memory post to a third address space for it to write a log record out, and of course, it has to package the record, with summarization and normalization too, mind you. And, this is happing for 1000s of transactions at at time.

    Everyone understand that? Probably not. ;) (me neither some days...)

    Anyway, my point is, I have no one to ask for help. I'm it. I get to put my big girl panties on and "figure it out" when there's a problem. Do or die. When these students get jobs, they'll learn to do the same thing.

    When I was learning programming, there was no WWW. Heck, PC's were not even on the shelves yet!

    I would venture to guess most of these students aren't going to be professional programmers. They might not even be good at math. I don't blame them for asking for help. I won't give them an answer without first making them think about the situation. A lot of topics can be explained without a line of code.

    I would like to think of myself as a mentor. An available ear who's been there and understands their issue. I think most of us that help are like this.

    I do enjoy the challenge of teaching myself new languages and language constructs. I've not had any formal programming instruction since the mid '80s. C, C++, JAVA, etc., are all self taught through books and online help.
    So, if I can work out someone's homework assignment, (or teach someone how integer counters work...) I will, but I won't share until it's the proper time in the process.

    Todd
     
  20. toddburch macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Location:
    Katy, Texas
    #20
    Yeah, that was pretty rough.

    Todd
     
  21. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #21
    Probably, but then I am not the one claiming I have 100% in my programming course thanks to the mad skills of Todd Burch.

    My point is give credit where credit is due, and don't claim to be something you are not...

    I pointed him at the java applets documentation where he could easily read and learn how to convert his swing app to an applet...
     
  22. toddburch macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Location:
    Katy, Texas
    #22
    Actually, in that thread, I specifically asked, and he specifically replied, that HangMan was not a homework assignment. Is this what you are referring to? Perhaps you missed that.
     
  23. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
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    #23
    I didn't miss it...but I have a tough time believing it wasn't.
     
  24. toddburch macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Location:
    Katy, Texas
    #24
    Yeah. If someone chooses to cheat AND lie their way through life, then the hole they dig for themselves will just get deeper and deeper and one day, there will be no crawling out.

    A savvy instructor would pick up on the coding style and construct use, I'm sure.

    Todd
     
  25. zimv20 thread starter macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #25
    exactly.

    will they, though? i really wonder.

    i'd at least like to know if they *think* they're going to be.
     

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