Should people be asking homework questions? Should people be ANSWERING homework questions?

I have seen many questions, especially in math (because most are equations) that are suspiciously similar to homework. This may be because they have no one else to help, or maybe because they are too lazy to do the calculations themselves. I don't know if I should wait a week, long after the homework should be due, to answer such a question so that the only reward of asking is to learn a concept, the proper reason to ask the internet. Also, they won't be able to "copy" the work of answerers online.

Also, if there is a question like this, can I be saying "10x + 2y = you need to work harder on this problem." or should I try to help? I think that the reason to ask a question should be to learn and not to plagiarize. It makes sense if the concept trying to be learned is hard to understand, but couldn't they look at previous questions for an example?

1 Answer
Nov 29, 2015

In my opinion, this comes down to a short-term vs long-term impact view.

Socratic is not about one student's homework, or about how we could or could not be helping that student cheat on his assignment.

Our goal here is to teach and make learning easier by building a long-time resource available to students from all over the world. And solving homework-style questions helps us get closer to that goal.

Now, not all people who ask homework questions online are lazy. In my view, posting a question online and copying the answer someone else provided is not laziness, it's misplaced effort.

If we manage to answer questions in such a way that would help students who are looking to learn, then we've got the long-term part covered.

If we manage to answer questions in such a way that would make copying the text beneficial even to those students who are looking to copy it for their assignments, then we've got the short-term part covered.

The part about concepts being hard to understand - that's as relative of a concept as you'll ever see in education. Hard for whom? Hard from the teacher's point of view, or hard from the student's?

We have no way of knowing who these students are, or what their classroom teachers are doing to help them understand things. Will some of them be looking to cheat? Of course, it would be naive not to acknowledge that! But I think it's safe to say that not all of them fit that description.

Now, to your point about students looking at other solved questions for help - many are doing just that!

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Our community has helped upwards of 8 million students - and counting! The ratio between questions asked and answers viewed confirms that we're helping students learn much more than we are helping them cheat. This is what the long-term part is all about.

The benefit of posting an answer that tackles concepts and walks the student through to the solution far outweighs the discomfort of knowing that some kid just copied your answer to avoid having to work on a math problem on a Friday night.

So, to wrap this up, it all comes down to your personal view. If you want to do something like

#2x + 4 = 6#

#2x = 2 implies x = ?#

you are free to do just that. But as far as the long-term goal is concerned, there's no tangible difference (in my mind) between that and this

#2x + 4 = 6#

#2x = 2 implies x = 1#

Should people be asking homework-style questions? Yes. Should people be answering homework-style questions? Yes.