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  1. #1
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    Default Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    Were the boards here ever to acquire a reputation for doing assignments for students, its participants would be considered no better than those sites which advertise the completion of assignments, essays and such for money, and all the sillier, as they're not even getting paid for it.

    Also from the standpoint of pure education, it is the objective to encourage thought and investigation in the student of any age, and not simply dole out unexplained answers, the fish-giving equivalent of the teaching world.

    And not the least, from the standpoint of the morality and general rules laid down by the founders and moderators of these boards, everyone posting on them in any capacity should without question (well perhaps with one or two questions) adhere to, if not respect the policy of not doing homework or answering test questions.

    However I do seem to have one or two reservations which I will list in order of greivance as I see them.

    (1)Advertising the rule:
    If you have a rule, its better to tell people about it before they can break it.

    It is the case that anyone responding as a teacher or as not be required to ignore a question that is obviously a test or homework assignment intended to be completed by the very student asking it, and perhaps even to inform her or him of this rule, or at the very least ask that the question be rephrased in such a way that it can be consicenably answered.

    As that is the case I feel this rule should be advertised everywhere and in a very obvious manner so that anyone visiting the boards and posing a question or posting and answer will invariably see it at least once and preferably more than once in large, bright lettering. As it is, one can go through the entire arc of posting without once being introduced to the rule.

    Ignorance of the "law" is no defence indeed, but then this doesn't prevent the average site from advertising warnings on everything from security of information to content. I feel the boards should do the same especially when there is constant evidence that posters on either side of a question have, or can claim to have ignorance of this rule.

    Suggested areas for placing a highly visible advertisement of the aforementioned rule:

    On the leftmost list of forums, specifically under "Ask a Teacher!"

    On the introduction to the forums "Home>English forums (perhaps in bold, like the word "free")

    At the top of every "Post new Thread" dialogue

    Of course in reflection, there is one problem with stating openly "Homework related and Test questions will not be answered", there might be a meteoric decline in questions. That consideration bears no weight however, as the brand of "double standard" is even less bearable than that of "cheater helpers". Still, we must ask ourselves:

    (2)What is a "homework/test question, and how can it be recognised?

    As well meaning as any respondent to a question may be, can she or he claim to really know if a question is directly related to homework or test assignment?

    This post (which has had posts deleted from it) was recently locked for violation of the rule(s) in question.

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...-provided.html

    But this one wasn't, even though it could easily be one of several questions on a sheet of paper given to a student (the poster has not disavowed this).

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/fr...ve-having.html

    Because of its questionably different nature, or simply thanks to clever wording on the part of a twelve year old (the world may never know), this post was not either.

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...tructions.html

    And yet regardless of whether the parents are asking, or the child is asking, it technically violates the "letter of the law". In their defence, the moderator and senior member who replied believe(d) themselves to be helping responsible adults, not a lazy child.

    In this following case, the reasoning (with which I agree) of the moderator seems to be that the question has already been answered and he is merely helping the student to understand the answer (frying a man's fish I suppose, rather than giving him one). But what if the student wasn't sure of the answer, and only claimed to be?

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ask-teacher/47171-i-have-question.html

    In the first thread mentioned, the student has clearly completed the assignment (and worked hard on it as most of the answers are correct), the only error comes in form of a mispelling of one word, one letter, perhaps even a typo.

    Suppose the student has narrowed it down but doesn't know if two answers need to be swapped with each other, if the were to say "I know with absolute certainty that these are the answers, and someone were to point out that an unspecified one is wrong wouldn't that be "helping"?

    In defense of myself, I am not speaking against these cases (I think they were exceptionally helpful), but agains the rule itself, which I feel needs revision or in the least, more specific deliniation.

    And so, as I said before, if I find myself visiting a country where it is criminal to say...import chewing gum, or make eye contact with a woman, it is my duty and burden to be aware of this and observe the law, however if it were not advertised by the travel agency sending me there, the customs agent receiving my baggage and a posted sign leaving the airport, I'm sure everyone could appreciate my chagrin on being "locked up", not unlike a certain recent thread.

    I also feel my tone should not be misconstrued, I write in perfect support of the ideals with which the rule in question is set up, but at the same time call the rule makers to accurately define the rule, sufficiently advertise it and be consistent in applying it, as should be the case with any rule.
    Last edited by weiming; 04-Sep-2007 at 05:43.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    It's in the description of the forum section: We do not do or correct homework; we discuss language.
    It's in the Forum Guidelines and Rules: http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/fo...signments.html

    However, even if you had thirty-foot high flashing letters, it would still be ignored by many.
    Last edited by Tdol; 04-Sep-2007 at 11:27. Reason: Typo

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    Ok, so I see two extremes, 2 point font at the bottom of a long paragraph, and the incredibly large letters you mentioned in jest, is there a happy medium?

    And really, I'm more in favour of just letting everyone respond to the question be made aware of the rule (like posting it in the forum rules) and then letting everyone police themselves, I was just stunned that the first post I linked to should be locked while others of nearly identical quality also referenced, and others responded to by moderators none the less, who set the tone, are "free to roam", as it were.

    The requests in my previous post are unreasonable, but only because the rule (as it stands) enforced by a moderator: -casiopea-, is unreasonable as well.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming View Post
    As well meaning as any respondent to a question may be, can she or he claim to really know if a question is directly related to homework or test assignment?
    Teachers can usually tell, weiming. Please remember, this is an ask a "teacher" forum. Being a native speaker doesn't buy you the experience and/or knowledge it takes to know how to recognize when a learner is submitting graded work. Obviously, you agree. You aren't sure what is and what is not a homework-related assignment.

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming
    This post (which has had posts deleted from it) was recently locked for violation of the rule(s) in question.

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...-provided.html
    Correct. In post #3, the poster tells us it's from her exam and that she hopes she gets a good grade.

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming
    But this one wasn't, even though it could easily be one of several questions on a sheet of paper given to a student (the poster has not disavowed this).

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/fr...ve-having.html
    If it doesn't look like an assignment, and if the poster doesn't say that it's an assignment, then we have no other choice but to give the poster the benefit of the doubt.

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming
    "letter of the law"
    There are no "laws" here, weiming. You assume too much.

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming
    ... if I find myself visiting a country where it is criminal to say...import chewing gum, or make eye contact with a woman, it is my duty and burden to be aware of this and observe the law, however if it were not advertised by the travel agency sending me there, the customs agent receiving my baggage and a posted sign leaving the airport, I'm sure everyone could appreciate my chagrin on being "locked up", not unlike a certain recent thread.
    The forum rules are there, weiming. You either failed to read them or chose to ignore them. You are not a teacher and yet you chose to post as if you were a teacher. There's no law against fraud here, weiming.

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming
    I also feel my tone should not be misconstrued, ...
    Well, language holds power, weiming; if you don't choose your words carefully, they most likley will offend someone. If you weren't aware of that then, you should be aware of that now. Ironically, there is more to teaching than knowing the rules.

    That you are confused about how you should respond to a given post is of no surprise, at least to me. That the forum rules are vague, to you, isn't a cause, weiming, it's a symptom. Of course you are confused--you are neither experienced in moderating nor in teaching. If you were, you wouldn't be asking us how to answer questions.


    ___________________
    We should meet. I also live in Shanghai, in Pudong.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    casiopea>

    I support -RonBee-a teacher, and moderator-in his willingness to help this student (as s/he has already completed the assignment, and is merely looking for correction), but this thread seems identical to the post you locked, it is even by the same poster, can you explain the material difference? I don't doubt for a second it was recognised as an assignment.

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...-exercise.html

    No amount of experience (and certainly not the mere 20 years you have), teaching or otherwise will allow you to difinitively recognise that a question is not on graded work. The only way to absolve yourself of culpability would be to require the poster to read and confirm a disclaimer not to ask such questions, or state otherwise in each question.

    Casiopea> You said:

    "If it doesn't look like an assignment, and if the poster doesn't say that it's an assignment, then we have no other choice but to give the poster the benefit of the doubt."

    Your lesson to posters is "test questions welcome, just don't tell us that's what they are". I can think of several controversial issues on which I wish my government would take a similar "don't ask, don't tell" stance.

    Casiopea>

    "Letter of the law" is writer's license as evidenced by the quotation marks. I don't know if you recognised that.

    Casiopea> You wrote:

    "You are not a teacher and yet you chose to post as if you were a teacher."

    I most certainly did not, and by your own reasoning. I did not say that I was a teacher, therefore I could not be assumed to be one. Nor did I respond to questions explicitly directed to teachers without disavowing my status as one.

    We do not assume everyone in a police station is a police officer until they tell us otherwise, that's why they wear badges.(How about a teacher "badge" on the forums?)

    Casiopea>

    Where in the forum rules is it written: "Posters may not ask or answer test/homework questions"?

    Casiopea>

    There is often a gulf, between what is written and what is read, as evidenced by the sometimes tragically misconstrued "mastication". The absence of voice, and preconceived notions of the reader play as much a part in this as anything else.

    Casiopea>

    The fact that there is more to teaching than knowing the rules is by no definition "ironic", as you claim. Nor is it ironic that there is more to teaching than holding the title.

    Cassiopeia>

    Mere proximity is not enough of an incentive for me to meet you, but I'm sure we will go on to become well acquainted and fine friends in the months to come. I'm finishing up my bachelor's at a local university, and will be around for some time. I would not at all be opposed to meeting at some later date, perhaps.

    In the meantime, yours or any other person's answer to the first question in this post is awaited with humility and patience.

    And as an aside, I'm still waiting for further information (or the formal refusal of it) for the warning you issued me by way of private message.
    Last edited by weiming; 05-Sep-2007 at 06:13.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    Forums are, by their nature, a bit messy; no one can read all the posts, so there is no guarantee that absolutely every post will be treated in exactly the same way, however hard we try. We have a forum section dedicated to policies, but few read it; everyone in IT knows that people rarely read instructions, which is why we have expressions like RTFM. People will use their judgment before deciding how to deal with something. Does a rule against spam stop spam? That rule is enforced by deletion. The hoework rule will also be enforced by people's responses to a post.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    Tdol>(I'm assuming you would prefer the use of your handle here, Richard seems a bit too familiar to me)

    Well said indeed. The instance of my failing to clearly and explicitly note my non-teacher status before being reminded is clear evidence of the problems you state in action.

    At the same time, hesitant though I am to incite an outbreak of toe-stepping-on as I am, it seems clear to me that if the first post that I have alluded to by -nunudada- was locked, the second should be as well, by the same reasoning, [no sarcasm] unless there is some deeper reasoning at work that I am unaware of.

    I believe that everyone is capable of applying the rule judiciously on their own (once they are aware of it), I believe that a few well-meaning individuals will inerrantly break this rule, be they aware of it or not, and that appropriate action will be taken in these cases.

    I note however that to my limited understanding it seems to have been applied in a skewed manner in the case of -nunudada-(apologies to any involved, who certainly had good reasons for their actions in the matter).

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    There is bound to be an element of inconsistency in forums as people come in at different times and with slightly different approaches and interpretations. We have a general principle of not doing assignments, but that is not to say that there is no way to get around this. I am afraid that this does go with the territory- there are thousands of posters and things will inevitably get a bit messy, and this is only one of a large list of things we have to look out for (spam, copyright, astroturfing, unsuitable content, etc). However, I think that things generally work out, though there will always be exceptions.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    TDOL

    Your conitnued attention to my qualms is most well received and appreciated. I'm sure parity will continue to be meted out as well as it can.

  10. #10
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Thumbs up Re: Test/Homework Assignment Rule:a consideration

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Well, language holds power, weiming; [...]
    How beautifully said, Casiopea!!! "Language holds power". This will become one of my favorite quotations!

    Nyggus

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