Are MOOC Students Cheating Or Mastering the Material? « Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP
I hadn’t heard about this form of cheating in MOOC’s. I knew that answers got passed around (as Dave Patterson reported in June), but was surprised to hear that students were creating multiple account in order to re-take exams. That changes one’s perception of the 100K registered users. The question raised here in Dick Lipton’s blog is: Is this “cheating” or simply “mastering” the material?
Here is what happens next. Bob signs up for the course multiple times: let’s call them Bob1, Bob2, Bob3, Bob4. Recall there is no cost to Bob for signing up multiple times—none. So why not sign up several times…
Bob’s insight is simple: he now can take the course multiple times and keep only the best grade. Say there is a graded exam. Bob1 takes the exam and gets a 70% on it. Not bad, but not great either. So Bob sees what he got wrong, sees what questions they threw at him. He studies some more, then takes the exam again as Bob2. Of course the exam is different, since all these on-line systems do some randomization. However, the exam covers the same material, so now Bob2 gets an 85% say.
Perhaps Bob is satisfied. But if he is really motivated he studies some more, retakes the exam, and now Bob3 gets 90%. You guessed right. He goes on and takes it one more time as Bob4 who—surprise—gets a perfect 100%.