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Following Cheating Scandals, Harvard Dean of Undergrad Ed Visits CS50 Class and Tells Students Not To Cheat (thecrimson.com) 107

theodp writes: After a flood of cheating cases roiled Harvard's Computer Science 50: "Introduction to Computer Science I" last year, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay Harris implored students in the course not to cheat on assignments at an orientation session Wednesday night. Course head David Malan, the Harvard Crimson reports, spent the last five minutes of the orientation session fielding questions from students confused about the course's collaboration policy and whether or not CS50 enrollees are allowed to use code found online. He told them never to Google solutions, and never to borrow a friend's work. Last week, CS50 students were informed via a CS50 FAQ that they are also now "encouraged" to physically attend the course's taped weekly lectures. In an essay last year, Prof. Malan had questioned the value of saying everyone should attend every lecture. Attendance is now also expected at every discussion section until the first mid-semester exam. In case you're curious, the estimated sticker price for attending Harvard College during the 2017-2018 school year is $69,600-$73,600 (health insurance sold separately).
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Following Cheating Scandals, Harvard Dean of Undergrad Ed Visits CS50 Class and Tells Students Not To Cheat

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  • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @07:17PM (#55156595)

    The problem was that nobody told the students not to cheat. Now that that little misunderstanding has been cleared up, the problem is fixed.

    • Next they will pas a law to make it illegal... Yea, that will fix it! See how well it works in Chicago on the gun problem.

      I don't get it, so are they going to take attendance now at Harvard? Proctor tests better? Start an automated scan of all the project source code to keep people from googling the answers? Yea, that's going to help.

      Personally, I figure the idiots that cheat on their first CS course are going to get washed out of the program eventually. Where I'm not going to help you cheat, as a studen

      • big lectures classes are BS and cram tests don't prove much anyways.

        • big lectures classes are BS

          I prefer big classes. In small classes, the prof will digress to give a detailed answer to every question, so the class progresses at the pace of dumbest moron in the room. In big lecture halls, the prof just says "See me after class" or "Go talk to the TA", and moves on.

          • by qwak23 ( 1862090 )

            I've had the exact opposite happen - 400 student lecture, Prof spends 3-5 minutes on lecture, the remainder of the period answering questions in detail, TAs for this class pretty much had to fill in the rest of the lecture. 20 student lecture? Prof says "See me after class, talk to your TA, or come to my office hours on Thursday".

            I stopped going to the big lecture.

        • An introductory CS course shouldn't have cram tests. There's no end of practical material to test on and if you know how to code, a programming exam isn't going to be that hard if it asks you to write small bits of code. Big lectures don't really seem to fit CS either. I don't know what Harvard does or if things have changed, but when I got my degree is was smaller classes and a lot of time spent in a computer lab actually coding.

          The Dean shouldn't have to beg students not to cheat either. Toss some of t
      • Next they will pas a law to make it illegal... Yea, that will fix it! See how well it works in Chicago on the gun problem.

        Chicago bullshit aside for a moment, the true crime here is charging that fucking much for a degree that you can Google your way through.

        • I won't argue that... My kids are attending UTD here in Dallas for 1/10th that cost (or less, depending on scholarships) and getting a degree that isn't from Harvard but is from a well respected school. I cannot see how it's worth paying Harvard, or any of the ivy league schools price. But I'm just the first college graduate from a farming family in the Midwest who didn't inherit a trust fund to live on all my life working as a software engineer, so what do I know?

    • But did they tell the students that using Google was cheating in the first place. I could see it happening all in innocence.
      • He told them never to Google solutions

        To me the Google issue is part of a deeper problem with learning and information-retention in a search-engine-driven world.

        As a child, when I didn't understand a word or concept, my parents would never provide the verbal definition; we had to fetch the thick dictionary or encyclopedia and look it up ourselves. Later on they told us the effort needed to look things up helped us remember the new words, historical events etc.

        Nowadays it seems a person's brain intrinsically knows it doesn't need to rememb

    • The problem was that nobody told the students not to cheat. Now that that little misunderstanding has been cleared up, the problem is fixed.

      The problem with cheating is one of what is perceived as socially acceptable, and it isn't limited to cheating with your education. It is the same mechanism that lies behind, say, binge drinking amongst teenagers in UK, low level tax evasion in Denmark, social benefits fraud, using your mobile while driving, corruption etc etc: it has somehow become socially acceptable - "everybody" is doing it. People have somehow persuaded themselves that it doesn't cause real problems, and to address it, somebody has to

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Just asking people to behave and reminding them of the consequences of cheating does actually work. It won't stop 100% of cheating but it will reduce it.

    • The problem was that nobody told the students not to cheat. Now that that little misunderstanding has been cleared up, the problem is fixed.

      The problem is that the corporations that many of these students will end up working for rely on various kinds of cheating as vital components of their business models. "Do as I say, not as I do" just doesn't fly, and for good reason.

      As for the admonition not to "Google solutions", does the dean not understand that these students will be doing just that when they enter the workforce?

  • How I do it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @07:25PM (#55156621) Journal
    Right now, I'm teaching a Web Programming & Database integration course. I do a flipped classroom model where I record the lecture, and we work on the homework in class. They can do the homework before class, but they have to show me their code & explain it before they hand it in. That way, I can catch any errors they have before they hand it in, and answer questions that they run into if they haven't finished it yet. I also know that they're doing their own work.

    Also, if I see a common issue, I can do a 5 minute "mini lecture" to give an example technique in front of the class. If I come across a common issue after things have been submitted, I can do a 5 minute recorded lecture to reinforce what they should do in the future in that situation. Seems to work out well for my students.
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @07:33PM (#55156635) Homepage

    I am pretty sure that Harvard has previously told students not to cheat.

    Doing it again is not useful. Try using tests (including testing conditions) that make it difficult to cheat, rather than yelling at people that do it.

    • by tgeek ( 941867 )
      Or maybe the dean should look at the course instead of the students. Is the material relevant and useful (i.e. are the students motivated to learn it) Or are they viewing it simply as a "bullshit-requirement-or-prerequisite-that-must-be-endured"? And I won't even get into the whole mixed of message of "Welcome to Intro to Computer science. The exciting field that, among other things, promotes the ability to share information. Now please don't share information or cheat."
  • Sticker price? (Score:1, Informative)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 )

    "..In case you're curious, the estimated sticker price for attending Harvard College during the 2017-2018 school year is $69,600-$73,600 ..."

    Let's be clear, the sticker price ..really only applies to white and Asian hetero males.

    • "..In case you're curious, the estimated sticker price for attending Harvard College during the 2017-2018 school year is $69,600-$73,600 ..."

      Let's be clear, the sticker price ..really only applies to white and Asian hetero males.

      Is it more expensive for Asian homo males? Asking for a friend.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      So is there actually some special price for gay people?

      I'm mixed race but look white... How much do I have to pay?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First things first, if the lectures are available online, I wouldn't make attendance mandatory. Instead, I'd explain to students why it benefits them to be in attendance:

    1) It simply isn't possible to respond to respond to email or discussion forum questions immediately like what can be done in an in-class lecture.
    2) It's far easier for an instructor to help students if the instructor knows who they are. It's not that the instructor is biased against anyone else, but it's hard to directly help students wh

  • Video of the Harvard dean addressing the freshman in CS50 has now surfaced:

    https://i.imgur.com/zPn4CNd.gi... [imgur.com]

  • test for cheating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Thursday September 07, 2017 @09:31PM (#55157001) Homepage

    I recall one of my CS classes, the prof gave an assignment. You were guaranteed to run into a problem. Way back when, the batch file had a limit on memory usage and the assignment needed more than you had. So you went to the prof and he would put a check by your name and tell you how to up the resource. At the beginning of the assignment he was very clear. Do not cheat and that included asking classmates about anything about this assignment. If you did not go see him, you flunked the class. A clever prof figures out ways to detect cheating.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If You define asking classmates about anything about this assignment as cheating, You had already failed as a teacher. Not only that, it is even a retarded way of detecting cheating -- it does not prevent cross-year cheating, and it is enough for one clever person to be caught cheating to ruin this really stupid and manipulative thing.
      A clever teacher knows already that whatever punishments You employ, they only serve as perverse incentives at best and they always end up punishing upright students.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 07, 2017 @11:27PM (#55157243)

        Not to mention that the best students - the ones that can identify a problem, and research how to solve it own their own - would be the ones punished.
        The ones that "passed" were the drones that did exactly what they were told, in exactly the way they were told, and went back for more instructions at the first sign of trouble.

        • It also assumes they don't already know the answer. The class may prohibit checking outside sources, but there are always other ways to solve the problem.

          • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

            Duh, the problem with that is it presumes that you need to check outside sources. Perhaps you already know how to raise your limits and just do it. So you fail because you hit a resource problem, realized this and fixed it using already gained knowledge.

    • by ByteSlicer ( 735276 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @03:33AM (#55157705)

      So if you knew enough about batch files and memory to fix this on your own (I know I did, back then), you'd be branded a cheater? The problem with "clever" profs is their ego is so big, they'd never consider a student being smarter than them.

      • Because this was before the internet. You know batch files. There were no manuals unless you worked for CDC. I am not claiming that the method he used would work today, but I am also sure a clever prof could device a scheme where the student would need to ask the prof to complete the assignment. Particularly if the prof was clear, using the internet for this assignment is cheating. You are to complete this assignment entirely on your own. Flame away people.

        • Because this was before the internet. You know batch files. There were no manuals unless you worked for CDC.

          Well, FWIW, I taught myself all about batch files by reading the manual. In that era software came with excellent printed manuals, containing commands and examples. Nowadays, you find the documentation online, and the examples on Google/StackOverflow.

          I think having a face-to-face with the student about the assignment is a much better way to determine whether it was own effort or not.

      • I had a professor do something like this in a graduate computational physics class. I ignored his batch file, and wrote my own stuff to finish the assignment. I got a 0.

        I went in to complain to the professor about this, my answer was more elegant (faster, simpler code, right answer) than what he had done! He pointed out that I needed to learn how to work with a team, and that it wasn't always an option to re-write other people's code whenever you'd like. One of the points of the assignment was to understa

        • Re:test for cheating (Score:4, Interesting)

          by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Friday September 08, 2017 @12:02PM (#55159829)

          One of the points of the assignment was to understand how to work within the limitations of practical work.

          Was that a specifically communicated point of the assignment or just something that he tacked on when you complained? It sounds like he was just punishing you for bruising his ego. I've been in the same situation that you were in...

          Part of teaching somebody how to work within limitations is to use actual limitations. Rewriting his code was obviously not an actual limitation, because you did it, so if he wanted it to be limiting he should have specified that. These some years later, it's clear what the limitations are and you I hope that don't fire people for not working within limitations that you never communicated to them.

        • Great example of prof ego. Instead of deducing a few points for failing a hidden objective, you didn't get any points, even though you completed the main assignment. Then he convinced you he was right. Classic gaslighting [wikipedia.org].

          This is a problem with education in general, with teachers expecting you to regurgitate only *their* solutions, instead of promoting independent thought and thinking outside of the box.

          As for your last sentence, it depends. Sometimes you have to go with the flow, and sometimes you have to

    • Fuck teachers who do things like that.

      I was failed out of a class (at Harvard no less) for doing too well. The instructor didn't think it was possible for me to do as well as I did, in the time I had, and determined that I had cheated on the final project.

      Some of us don't need to ask classmates - I was the nerdy autist who (quite literally) asked for DOS manuals for birthday presents as a child. Dealing with extended memory, high memory, upper memory - all of this was common when dealing with video games,

    • by edx93 ( 4858619 )
      > So you went to the prof and he would put a check by your name and tell you how to up the resource. How can he tell someone cheated as opposed to figured it out for him / her self?
  • Back when I was taking CS101 in the late 80's (at one of the many "Harvard of the South"s), I remember they ran a "DIFF" on all programming assignment submissions. Three people were caught turning in the same code, and kicked out. I think the class had maybe 15 people in it tops.

    I remember a lot of pearl-clutching at the time, because our school had an honor code, and those three had agreed to it. Imagine that, a signed honor code hadn't weeded out cheaters!

    The only details I'd ever heard about it was t

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