Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Homework Solver 

Hmm, I actually happened to look at the links which appear at the top of this page and noticed this one which promises "Homework problems solved at reasonable prices."

Visiting the site, I found:

We know that doing homework isn't a lot of fun, so that's why we'll do it for you!

Mark T~ "This service is great. I had 10 problems in math and they solved all of them in a few hours. Now I have a shot at an A."

Howard S~ "Tutors are great when I need someone to teach me things about the subject.  But when I just want the answers, Homework Solver gives me them fast! PayPal makes it soooo easy!"

What a horrible idea.

Or not.

Personally, I think that it's a good idea to assign homework problems for which the answers are available by some means. Homework should not be an end in itself, but rather a route to learning. If a student does 10 problems incorrectly, they won't learn. If they do the problems and get the answers so they can check whether they have the answers correct, that's a bit better.

But of course, there's the issue of grades and measuring whether students have actually learned. On that front, I'm not entirely convinced that grading homework is a good or useful thing, and services like this Homework Solver group actually will ultimately force teachers to be a bit more thoughtful in how learning through homework is evaluated. My approach is to grade homework on a "was it done?" basis, but then have quizzes that pull from the homework to verify that students managed to learn something from the homework. Ideally, the quizzes would call for students to synthesize ideas from the homework, but that might be asking a bit much at the secondary level. Or perhaps I could ease them into it after a few weeks...

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