Why computer science students cheat?

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#31 ghillieLEAD  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 04:28 PM

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Students cheating comes down to one thing, an inability for the teacher to reach the student.

Well, this is a curious accusation. It's the teacher's and only the teacher's fault for the student cheating. Cheating is a voluntary act. It comes down to someone deciding that they cannot play by the system, and so they will cheat. Imagine playing a football game. You can't win because your coach can't coach. So you cheat. Is that OK? On a playing field, an unfair advantage is OK because you weren't trained properly? A student in the same class as other students, with the same teacher, can ethically cheat because he finds the teaching inadequate?


Rereading that I see I phrased it poorly. Let make take another stab at it. My opinion would be better represented in this statement, a vast majority of the time a student cheating comes down to an inability of the teacher to reach the student. I should also clarify, I am NOT pro cheating or anything like that. I am just saying that a majority of the time students cheat because they don't understand a concept and a student doesn't understand a concept because the teacher has failed to explain it and demonstrate it to the student. I don't blame teachers for students cheating, not at all. The choice, as you said, is one that only the student makes. I don't blame students either. The student life is stressful and demanding. I don't blame anyone for causing cheating or actually cheating. I am not trying to assign blame, I am only trying to make sure everyone is clear as to why students cheat. As I stated above, and I believe this is not only true but key, students cheat because they don't understand. It would be pointless for someone who fully understands something to cheat.

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You agree it is of value. Or do you not agree that it is of value?

I agree it's of value, but not enough to be noticed for certain requirements. A job as a writer requires you to be able to write. Thus, not meeting the requirement wholly does not have value. If a job requires you to be able to lift 80 pounds in an arm or more, and you can only lift 60, that ability is not valued. You personally have an advantage over someone who can only lift 20 pounds, for example. But to the requirement, you fail. You don't make the cut. Doesn't matter if you could only lift 20, or only lift 60.

You get that?


and

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Critically it is this: you claim it is OK to be in a pool of people who meet a certain requirement, not because you meet this requirement, but because you cheated to obtain it. You claim that efforts should be counted as having met that requirement.


I am having trouble putting my thoughts together as cohesively as I would like in this one, but I shall try my best. Currently evaluating a student is not done in a pass or fail, black and white, sort of a way. As my school posts it, it is a grading scale, scale being the key word. The person who is attempting to lift 80lbs of weight and only achieves 60lbs of weight is not a failure. He is not as good as the person who can achieve all 80lbs but he is certainly better then a person who lifts 40lbs. That person is better then the person who can lift 20lbs. (What is that saying? "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars") If, as it should be, your skill level is represented on a scale, you are not among the pool of people who lifted all 80lbs, but you are not down with the people who lifted less either.

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Now we come to the true conflation, one of a student taking a first year class and someone applying for a job.

'm not conflating it. I'm using a job as an example. An interview certifies, among other things, that you have certain skills. I use a job interview or test as an example, because cheating that is harder. It's a good example for that reason. It poses a certain requirement, and forces you to meet it.


Perhaps conflating isn't the correct word. I only heard it for the first time in one of your previous post. (I like the word however) As I said though, their is a scale that is used to measure a students understanding. Something as black and white as getting or not getting a job does not make a good comparison to something measured on a scale.

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You may complain about a system. You may believe that a system with certain requirements is detrimental. You may believe that it's requirements should be changed so that you can be considered to have value.


Is it wrong to question a system? To not re-evaluate something that has been in place for a fair amount of time would be foolish. If newer better ways to get something accomplished are found for coding something you change your program. Your program is easy to change in comparison to something as complex as a school system. For this reason a system like that is not often updated, things slide. At some point however you need to put in the effort to change something. To expand even wider, in a government such as in the United States's government things are changed by people protesting. People are always protesting somewhere in the world. A protest occurs when something finally needs to be changed and is driven by each and every person who believes the change is needed. The more people who question things the grander the protest. The growth of the number of people protesting is synergistic. The first person brings more. Some simple mathematics can represent what I mean by that. 1 + 0 = 2. 1 + 1 = 4. One person does something another joins the movement. with the two people joined maybe two more join and now you are at four, and onward and onward. As a society it is our duty to question the effectiveness of something.

Perhaps I am straying from the original question, "why do students cheat?", but maybe I'm not. This is one of those questions that requires some very broad thinking and the incorporation of many different thoughts. For this reason I want to make it clear; I in no way am trying to throw out anything you say. I am grateful for every word you write and enjoy thinking over what you say and seeing if I agree with the thought or not. That said let me finish this rather lengthy post by saying something I believe most everyone should be able to agree on. Cheating is bad! :bigsmile:

This post has been edited by ghillieLEAD: 21 April 2010 - 04:36 PM

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#32 Oler1s  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 05:34 PM

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I don't blame students either. (for cheating)
I do. It's a voluntary choice. You don't cheat like you burp or something. It doesn't just happen. It's not like a leg spasm. It's a deliberate act. Is it justified? I don't think so. Students are not placed in a life threatening situation in a CS class. It is a voluntary choice to go through the CS curriculum. On discovering that they are not able to perform as expected, it is their option to switch. It takes a number of conscious decisions on the part of the student to cheat.

(Actually, this is a bit more complicated. There are clear incentives to get a degree, and clear penalities to not. But again, I don't think it justifies cheating. I'm clearly trying to avoid making an absolute statement here.)

I don't disagree that bad teaching provides an incentive. But incentives don't justify behavior.

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The person who is attempting to lift 80lbs of weight and only achieves 60lbs of weight is not a failure.
He is by the definition of the metric. The metric is that one lifts 80lbs+. He can lift only 60. That's failure. The metric doesn't give value to lifting 60lbs.

Fail and pass are meaningless terms unless given a metric and the assumptions of that metric. The metrics of CS classes depends on the class, but they all (except for perhaps the most basic) have included a metric of writing code. Not the best code. Not the most amazing. But some level of ability to write functional, feasibly performing programs.

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Perhaps conflating isn't the correct word.
When you conflate two things, you treat them both like one thing (i.e. ignoring their differences).

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Something as black and white as getting or not getting a job does not make a good comparison to something measured on a scale.
I think you make a false comparison. It's better to compare getting a job with passing a class. To do either, one must pass a number of metrics (set by the interviewer and by the professor, respectively). Metrics are capable of being scales, as well as hard requirements. For example, a job that requires being able to lift 80 pounds is a hard metric. From this metric's perspective, either you can do so or not. It is also possible to weigh it as a function (extremes are penalized or rewarded heavily, and small deviations either way are minimized). Such a metric throws out the truly incompetent, accepts the average, and favors the exceptional.

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Is it wrong to question a system?
Not at all. Questioning and testing a system are important. But I think the question of cheating is not about the system intrinsically. It is about people making a voluntary choice to give themselves an unfair advantage in a system. Part of my questions I asked you were to determine if you were really questioning cheating, or really questioning the system. I have my own opinions on academic studies of CS and how the system works. Regardless of how I feel, I don't think cheating is justified.

This thread is about why students cheat. I think if you want to focus on the metrics, you should create a new thread (with a good title please, like "Is being able to write code a hard metric?"). I don't mind continuing the discussion, since it's been free of ad hominem attacks, and other flaws that lead to flamewars. It's refreshing to have an argument that doesn't dissolve into nonsense.
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#33 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 05:37 PM

What I really want to know is how can anyone justify or rationalize cheating in any way? If caught cheating you should be kicked out of school, no questions asked. If you're cheating you obviously aren't going to make it in this industry, and are going to end up being a copy & paste coder which brings no value to the industry at all
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#34 Oler1s  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 05:47 PM

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What I really want to know is how can anyone justify or rationalize cheating in any way?
I think a few arguments are made in a cheater's mind (and one or more can justify cheating):

- Others are doing it too.
- It doesn't hurt anyone, just helps me.
- What's the big deal, I learned some things anyway.
- Peer pressure ("can't fail")
- Peer acceptance: not only is everyone doing it, but socially it's a bit expected.

There's a lot of social acceptance and attitudes at play. It becomes more of a "can I get away with it" than a "is this morally OK" issue.
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#35 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 05:50 PM

I was a teacher at a community college for a while about 10 years ago, teaching programming (well web development stuff at the time). If I caught someone cheating they were done immediately, no discussion or no questions. If more teachers took this stance it sure would go a long way towards improving the quality of CS students that are coming into the industry. Just my 2
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#36 ghillieLEAD  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 06:29 PM

The metric is what I question. I will consider adding the topic, as of now I feel I could not provide anything other then the opinions I have already voiced here. That's not to say I won't add it at a later date when new thoughts strike me. I encourage anyone who has unique ideas or thought provoking comments on the matter to go for it right away.
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#37 Martyn.Rae  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 09:21 PM

View PostPsychoCoder, on 21 April 2010 - 11:37 PM, said:

What I really want to know is how can anyone justify or rationalize cheating in any way?


The answer to this question surely lies in the mind of the student cheater. Cheaters obviously, have convinced themselves that their reasons for cheating are justifiable. In the same way, people who drive faster than the law permits think it's justifiable - these people do not see themselves as criminals (which of course is what they are as they have broken the law!!!).

I do think we have to be careful in the way that we handle cheaters as I firmly believe that cheating in most cases is a cry for help rather than an indication that they are trying to achieve something they don't deserve. This site is dedicated to providing help to those that need it - that's why I spend most of my time here, when I am not out earning a crust or two.

Are we justifying cheating by helping others? Maybe we are in a few cases, but most of the people we help here I feel genuinely do learn a great deal from the lifeline we throw them because they have failed to grasp a small piece of the bigger picture. As for those that simply want an easy life and aren't prepared to put in the effort? Our experience as regular users of this site help us to spot them easily - they stand out from everybody else!

This post has been edited by Martyn.Rae: 21 April 2010 - 09:22 PM

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#38 Choscura  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 21 April 2010 - 09:34 PM

I feel I could possibly expand a bit upon the observation Ghillie made about "teachers inability to reach students". I've had some incredibly bad teachers, and some very competent (but still bad) ones, and I've had some excellent teachers. Regardless of the subject material or my difficulty with it, the good teachers have been able to make me understand what was going on by putting it in my terms and reducing the complexity until I understood the problem at hand, and then increasing, step by step, until I could do the complex/difficult problems I had found so mind-boggling before.

The bad teachers, however, not only could not reduce complexity to any useful degree, most of the time they didn't even care. I've had teachers show up and read from powerpoint for an hour and just walk out of the room, class dismissed, and nobody asks questions because, frankly, the teacher is completely utterly incapable of answering any.

Given these two extremes, I can understand cheating students (especially in bad schools, full of bad teachers) because not only do the students not want to deal with the teachers, they feel they are being cheated out of their education anyway by incompetent teaching staff who are not only wasting their time with a course that teaches nothing, but potentially giving them a bad grade (making them have to re-take the same class from the same teacher, again learning nothing, and wasting even MORE time) and at the same time charging them money for it- potentially more than once. I have been in this situation: I would cheat (hell, I would lie, threaten, blackmail, bribe, and resort to treachery, larceny and lese majesty) if it would get me out of it with a good passing grade and at least SOME knowledge of the subject matter at hand.

This post has been edited by Choscura: 21 April 2010 - 09:39 PM

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#39 Penzyak  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 22 April 2010 - 08:33 PM

Thank you for linking to that interesting article. It mentioned students from UIUC. Being from there myself, I could hypothesize as to why some of our CS students cheat. I think that some people do not expect the amount of work and time that is needed in order to succeed in classes. I have heard the sentence "this is way too much work" on many occasions. This constant pressure to perform, coupled with the fact that many students have jobs, and many of them are paying lots of money for their education, may lead to cheating. It is hard to imagine having to drop from a program after spending thousands of dollars on classes, dreaming of graduating, and working hard to succeed.
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#40 Sethro117  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 22 April 2010 - 10:58 PM

So they can cheat to succeed? Thats like saying its ok to have an affair as long as your spouse doesn't know.
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#41 PsychoCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 22 April 2010 - 11:12 PM

I personally don't care if someone paid $5 or $5000 to get into the course, that gives them no right to cheat, and regardless of how much you pay you should be expelled on site if you get caught cheating because all you're doing is making a mockery of your education (and the school you're attending) and cheating yourself as an employer will know right off the bat if you actually know anything or if you copy & pasted your way through school.

As far as I'm concerned there is no valid excuse/reason/rationalization for cheating, period.
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#42 Choscura  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 23 April 2010 - 02:39 PM

You know, I agree with this. I guess I spoke before I thought before (this is why I don't want other people building on my arguments!), because thinking about it now, I don't think I'd cheat either. I'd be very tempted to do some of the other things (blackmail, etc) if the teacher were bad enough and completely without any redeeming qualities, but my first instinct wouldn't be to actively cheat (eg, hack the grades on the school server and give myself an 'A') or even passively cheat (notes on the palm of my hand). I'd probably simply ignore the teacher and learn what I could from other sources (eg, DiC). Beyond this, every BS student plots murder on some of the more assholish professors at one time or another.

I have a huge drive to succeed. I'm very goal oriented, and if the goal is simply to move on to the next class while learning to a specified degree the material at hand, I will do this any way I can, as efficiently as I can. But thinking about this now, in terms of what I would do (and in terms of what I have done), I would (and have) ignore teachers, other students, and class rules in order to learn something, but I've never cheated and I can't really picture in my head a situation where I would. It would be more difficult than honestly doing enough of the work to get the concepts and pass the tests and just scrape by (which is about what I'd expect to be able to do if I relied just on cheating).
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#43 nailbunny  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 25 April 2010 - 12:14 AM

Why do CS students cheat? Cuz maybe they're only doing the degree to get money.. (they seem to have weird ideas that they're going to be the next Bill Gates/Steve Jobs) When I started my degree there were 80+ students, by the end of it only FIVE of us graduated (there are two other students who went from full time study to part time study - they both have a year left). I also think that a lot of new students totally underestimate how hard IT can be - especially when it comes to the //math//. Or maybe they're just super lazy.. Either way I don't get why students cheat in //any// field of study. I mean, when you get out into the world & get a job, you're not gonna have a clue what to do if you've cheated your way through your degree & people will find out pretty fast..
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#44 ray101889  Icon User is offline

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 25 April 2010 - 06:20 PM

I agree, cheating is wrong on all levels, but ask this question to yourself, Would you whether cheat to pass the class and learn concepts later or don't cheat and fail the class?

This post has been edited by ray101889: 25 April 2010 - 06:40 PM

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#45 JackOfAllTrades  Icon User is online

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Re: Why computer science students cheat?

Posted 25 April 2010 - 07:09 PM

*
POPULAR

Don't cheat, fail the class, re-evaluate your degree path if you're not getting it.

EDIT:

There's a better plan. It probably will become apparent rather quickly that you're not getting it. It is at this point that you WITHDRAW from the course, so as to not fail, and go off on your own and see what you can pick up "off-the-clock." If you find you're still not getting it, you should then re-evaluate your degree path. It's not defeat, it's recognizing your weaknesses. See the link in my sig, The Camel Has Two Humps. It's very enlightening.

I pretty firmly believe that those with a real interest in CS will have come into the university CS program having already done some programming and have a pretty decent knowledge of computers and general programming, leaving little excuse for failure.

Those that say, "Oh, I love gaming, so I'll become a computer programmer and develop games" without having done any messing around with programming/scripting? Those that think it must be an easy, big paycheck because they made the family web page? Those that see the commercials for diploma mills late at night and get talked into thinking they can do that too?

The vast majority of those people are -- sadly -- destined to fail.

NOTE: Regarding withdrawing from a class in where you're not getting it? I had to swallow my pride and do it. I went to school at night for a couple semesters to get back into the groove -- with no advisor -- and took a Calculus course which I failed to realize was targeted for non-science majors. When I went back to school full-time, I majored in Chemistry. One of the pre-reqs for my final chem class -- Physical Chemistry -- was Calculus III, which I hadn't taken, so I signed up. Well, after failing a couple of tests because I had no background in differentiating or integrating trig functions, I withdrew from the class and went to see the head of the Chem Dept to see if he thought I could get by without it. He thought it would be tough, but that I could do it.

I know...TL;DR, cool story, bro...etc, etc. :)

This post has been edited by JackOfAllTrades: 02 January 2011 - 06:03 AM
Reason for edit:: Revise and restate.

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