Posts tagged ‘cheating’

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%.

via Cheating Or Mastering? « Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP.

August 22, 2012 at 9:29 am 10 comments

Getting it right: Collaboration vs. cheating

I am proud of the Georgia Tech College of Computing administration of the undergraduate program this morning.  In the new PCWorld article on cheating in computer science classes, Cedric Stallworth, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Enrollment sets the right tone.

The article isn’t great — it starts out with a false claim that CS undergraduates are at an all time high (they’re up, but not at 2000/2001 levels).  Then the article has quotes from several instructors at top CS departments:

… says the introductory computer science courses require students to code their own programs, while higher-level courses allow for more teamwork. “We want them to learn the mechanics first, and then open up the world of collaboration,” he adds.

via Why Computer Science Students Cheat – PCWorld.

That’s exactly backwards, according to the cognitive science. You start out with motivating circumstances and low cognitive load practice, and then move on to more complex activities. Pair programming is one of the most successful techniques for improving learning and engagement in CS1!

The article goes on to point out that industry wants more collaboration, and Georgia Tech is trying to encourage more collaboration and more learning:

“In the real world, people write code in teams where they are given pieces of a project to work on,” Foote says. “The academic world should be mapping onto the real world…They shouldn’t be handing out assignments where people are coding on their own.”

To encourage collaboration, Georgia Tech changed its approach to cheating in its introductory computer science courses in 2007….”Students sign a collaboration agreement,” explains Cedric Stallworth, assistant dean for Undergraduate Enrollment at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing. “We realize that computing is one of the subjects that is best learned in a group. If students are using somebody else’s code and are learning from it, that’s all right.”

To ensure that the students are mastering the material, Georgia Tech requires them to give an oral demonstration of how their software works for one of their teaching assistants. “We worry less about catching cheaters. We worry more about properly assessing the student’s skill set,” Stallworth says.

Exactly right!


April 19, 2010 at 10:29 am 11 comments

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