Doing Work for Students

Goeytex

Senior Member
#1
I just got a private message from a complete newcomer offering to pay me for writing the Picaxe Basic code for a school project for him and his group. He indicated that the project would be going to exam. Here was my reply

Name Redacted,

I would not be interested. What you are proposing is unethical and I will have no part in it at any price. Besides that, if you are willing to cheat for an exam then I imagine that you have no real intention of actually paying anyone after they did the work for you.

I suggest that you and your group study the Picaxe manuals and do the work yourselves. You may also want to consider taking a course in ethics.

Regards,

Goeytex
If you are contacted, I suggest you reply in a similar manner.
 

darb1972

Senior Member
#2
Well said Goey. Thanks for the warning (not that this person is likely to contact a novice like me). All too often many youngsters want to take the easy road rather than put in the effort. I know this from first hand as I once employed many apprentices. Some had good attitudes towards their studies, but most put in the absolute bare minimum to pass their exams (and only did so to avoid losing their job).

What a shame that some students when presented with the opportunity to learn and discover something as exciting as PICAXE choose to do otherwise.
 

julianE

Senior Member
#3
What an enterprising student. I see a bright future for him. He will do well in finance or politics.

I do like this part the best,

"Besides that, if you are willing to cheat for an exam then I imagine that you have no real intention of actually paying anyone after they did the work for you."
 
#5
"enterprising" maybe, but a 'smart' student would have said "I am doing a project for my Father...".
The payment part, of course, is another matter :)

Some time ago a student posted along those lines and was told there would be no help from the Forum on an exam project. He/she got very chippy about that and wrote several, how shall I say it, forceful replies here - and then disappeared. I would suggest ignoring posts/PMs like that as it can get quite abusive and some people here are very sensitive about such things.
 

Goeytex

Senior Member
#6
Sorry Dippy I cannot and will not ignore such things. If we ignore wrongdoing (or attempted wrongdoing) whether here or in life in general then we become a part of it. Silence is not always golden. Catering to the sensitivity of "some people" by ignoring the wrong doing of others is a slippery slope. I don't really care about some people's "sensitivity" in matters such as this. Abusive posts can be deleted by moderators.
 

techElder

Well-known member
#8
Goeytex, I'm in total agreement with you. Bring these fraudulent attitudes into the light of day, so they can't be perpetuated over the life of an individual. Apparently these folks don't have proper guidance.

I can vouch for quite a few that grew up under my tutelage and guidance, and none have backslid in their activities. It doesn't take much to shine a light on wrongheaded behavior.
 

jims

Senior Member
#9
Goeytex...I believe that you did the right thing, and I support your position. Thank you for taking a stand against this fraudulent behavior. JimS
 

bpowell

Senior Member
#10
Well, since I post more questions than answers...I doubt I'll be contacted!

What's funny is...if they had just started the project, and then come here with legitimate questions, "How do I do this or that?" "Why does this happen?" "Is smoke bad?"...they would have all been answered fully, and with supporting detail...they must not have bothered to look at the history of the forum.
 

erco

Senior Member
#11
Or, get the money up front then turn him in to his school. :) Just kidding. Bravo Goeytex, well done. Thank you for leading by example.
 
#12
Well done Goeytex

Well done Goeytex. As a 73 years old beginner in this field, I benefited more than once from your willingness to share your knowledge. But this student received from you the answer he deserved.
 

julianE

Senior Member
#13
I thought about this some more and the mistake he made is reaching out to the better programmer among us. He should have approached me, he would have received poorly documented spaghetti code that would warrant a barely passable grade and nil suspicion.
 

SAborn

Senior Member
#14
Although Geoytex approach my seem good i question if it was a good action, as the kid will just go else where and do it anyway.
I have helped many kids with projects, and no i dont their work for them or charge them.

But in assisting you can direct them in the course of action they take, i dont think slamming the door on them is the correct thing to do, or not atleast until you find out what they need.
Its often a case of they think its too hard for them to do, but given a little time and directions they soon learn that they can do it and acheive the project.

Then was the project required for marks, perhaps not, perhaps it was just an added extra that scores no points other than some bling to the project.

Sometimes we need to question kids before slamming the door in their face.
 

Goeytex

Senior Member
#15
It is also often the case where they have procrastinated in learning the material and they know that they cannot make exam by the deadline and are willing to cheat by having a hired surrogate do the work for them while they take the credit and the grade.

Sometimes the motive is so clear and obvious that no further questioning is needed. And rather than hand holding, group hugs, and singing Kumbaya around a campfire, they need not only a slammed door, but also a boot in the rear to propel them out.
 

techElder

Well-known member
#16
Here in the USA, our schools have gone to the hand-holding "do it if you want to" share-and-share-alike approach to education in most subjects, and you can see the local and worldly results.

Tell them what is wrong to do, and monitor their activity. Then tell them again ... louder.

I'm all for hiring contractors; just not from the schoolroom! :)
 

premelec

Senior Member
#17
well... I've been looking at other people's code and designs for many decades and learned both from their cleverness and mistakes [as well as my own...]; perhaps giving out somewhat defective code which would lead to a student learning by debugging :) I can't say outright rejection of my interest in something ever helped me to learn or stay interested... and I recall times in University when a prof said you can't do this until you know that did kill my interest as I wasn't near knowing that and was interested in this... basically being called dumb doesn't seem to help. I know of some experiments in science education where kids picked impossibly complex tasks but after trying to understand them for a while reduced them to simpler understandable ones... learning seems dependent on maintaining interest. In this forum I've seen people give up and ones who bang onward... good luck to everyone!
 

Circuit

Senior Member
#18
Given the SABorn/Goeytex divergence of opinion, I think that it is important to differentiate between educational inhibitions that need to be overcome by encouragement and dealing with overt dishonesty. SABorn's approach really relates to the former; Goeytex is relating to the latter. In this respect, a student who is cheating and misrepresenting his work must learn to face up to the consequences of his actions and these consequences should reflect the way that society in general deals with such matters; there is a disciplinary penalty, a requirement that the individual shows remorse for his actions and then this may be followed by supportive rehabilitation. (I speak with the authority of a PhD and a higher degree in education). Goey is absolutely right, if a little over the top in his phraseology, when he indicates his preference for eh, rebooting them?
 
#19
Sadly, getting others to do work for you in our educational system, or even outright plagiarism, is rife. What's worse is that many students don't see anything wrong with stealing intellectual property or in cheating in order to gain a qualificaton.

Several years ago a student at Lancaster University submitted a paper as a part of his work towards his MSc. Had he been a bright student, he would have found out that I was one of the referees his supervisor regularly used. Had he been even brighter he would have known that his supervisor would recognise his paper, complete with illustrations, as one that I had published some years before. Needless to say his supervisor sent me the paper and suggested I may wish to deal with his student directly, before he threw him off the course for plagiarism.

I 'phoned the student and explained that I was the author of the paper that he'd submitted as his own work, and stated the journal in which it had been published. I was expecting a profuse apology from the student, but was amazed as he really didn't think he'd done anything wrong. His defence was that my paper had been published on the internet and was therefore his to use as he wished.

Sadly there are now a whole generation now that don't see any value in original work, and consider anything on the internet as being theres to do with as they wish.
 

Buzby

Senior Member
#20
My son finished is GCSE's last year, and part of his work was to write a piece on a modern material, and a suggest a use for it.
He independently researched memory metals, although he had seen me playing with 'muscle wire' a few months before.
His finished piece was some pictures he drew on the PC of a prosthetic hand using these wires, and a couple of pages of text describing how the hand worked.

Imagine my dismay when he was accused by his teacher of copying the lot off the net !.

I know he didn't copy any of it. He is not a very good engineer, and his design showed this, but his imagination and flair with words were apparent in the text.
The teacher eventually apologised, but the damage was done. My son dropped the techie stuff as soon as he could, and chose languages and music for his A levels.

The only reason I can think why the teacher suspected plagiarism is because he sees too much already !.
 

premelec

Senior Member
#21
@Buzby - that's sad indeed - however we can certainly benefit from more good musicians - maybe he'll design some new instruments too.
 

Circuit

Senior Member
#23
Sadly, getting others to do work for you in our educational system, or even outright plagiarism, is rife. What's worse is that many students don't see anything wrong with stealing intellectual property or in cheating in order to gain a qualificaton.

Several years ago a student at Lancaster University submitted a paper as a part of his work towards his MSc. Had he been a bright student, he would have found out that I was one of the referees his supervisor regularly used. Had he been even brighter he would have known that his supervisor would recognise his paper, complete with illustrations, as one that I had published some years before. Needless to say his supervisor sent me the paper and suggested I may wish to deal with his student directly, before he threw him off the course for plagiarism.

I 'phoned the student and explained that I was the author of the paper that he'd submitted as his own work, and stated the journal in which it had been published. I was expecting a profuse apology from the student, but was amazed as he really didn't think he'd done anything wrong. His defence was that my paper had been published on the internet and was therefore his to use as he wished.

Sadly there are now a whole generation now that don't see any value in original work, and consider anything on the internet as being theres to do with as they wish.
I can reflect your experience many times over! I have supervised many Masters' theses and plagiarism abounds. Like your instance it is sometimes blindingly obvious to all but the student. The normal indicator is where a poorly written introduction, full of spelling and grammatical errors is followed by perfectly formed paragraphs of sophisticated writing interspersed with the occasional linking paragraph that reflects the style of the introduction. It is often said that the ultimately unethical student is the one who is so good at it as never to get caught; I wonder just how many of those have found their way through our educational system and into employment where their responsibilities cannot be properly discharged according their real level of skill or talent?

Your observation regarding those who see no value in original work and who consider anything on the internet to be theirs to do with as they wish is also one that I would reflect. The current educational system of getting students to "research" (i.e. "look up") on the internet tends to promulgate this view; original thinking, creativity and active research cannot be achieved from scanning around the internet simply observing and copying what others have done. Much of our educational system rewards the wrong things.
 
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