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Solving Homework in Pairs

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  • Shlomi Fish
    Hi Nadav (and all)! I d like to continue to discuss whether the solving homework in pairs paradigm in university courses is good or bad. Here:
    Message 1 of 9 , May 22, 2007
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      Hi Nadav (and all)!

      I'd like to continue to discuss whether the solving homework in pairs paradigm
      in university courses is good or bad.

      Here:

      http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/hackers-il/message/4752

      You said that:

      <<<<<<<<<<
      but in previous discussions here, we
      agreed to disagree about the merits of "pair programming" ;-) The most
      basic problem with this method is that it's *not* pair programming - usually
      the pair doesn't work together, but rather divide the exercise and do each
      part separately. I wrote about my more fundamental problem with this approach
      in http://nadav.harel.org.il/homepage/musing/educooperation
      >>>>>>>>>>

      Well, as I noted in my reply here -
      http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/hackers-il/message/4753 - we did not
      explicitly say that we agree to disagree about it, even though that may have
      been the way you recalled it.

      I later compiled my reasons as presented in that email here -
      http://xrl.us/woh3 . I'd love to hear what you think about it.

      Best Regards,

      Shlomi Fish

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
      Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

      If it's not in my E-mail it doesn't happen. And if my E-mail is saying
      one thing, and everything else says something else - E-mail will conquer.
      -- An Israeli Linuxer
    • Ori Idan
      I think it varies greatly from pair to pair and from person to person so it is hard to argue if it is good or bad. For some people it is good, for others it is
      Message 2 of 9 , May 22, 2007
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        I think it varies greatly from pair to pair and from person to person so it is hard to argue if it is good or bad.
        For some people it is good, for others it is not.

        --
        Ori Idan

        On 5/23/07, Shlomi Fish <shlomif@...> wrote:

        Hi Nadav (and all)!

        I'd like to continue to discuss whether the solving homework in pairs paradigm
        in university courses is good or bad.

        Here:

        http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/hackers-il/message/4752

        You said that:

        <<<<<<<<<<
        but in previous discussions here, we
        agreed to disagree about the merits of "pair programming" ;-) The most
        basic problem with this method is that it's *not* pair programming - usually
        the pair doesn't work together, but rather divide the exercise and do each
        part separately. I wrote about my more fundamental problem with this approach
        in http://nadav.harel.org.il/homepage/musing/educooperation
        >>>>>>>>>>

        Well, as I noted in my reply here -
        http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/hackers-il/message/4753 - we did not
        explicitly say that we agree to disagree about it, even though that may have
        been the way you recalled it.

        I later compiled my reasons as presented in that email here -
        http://xrl.us/woh3 . I'd love to hear what you think about it.

        Best Regards,

        Shlomi Fish

        ----------------------------------------------------------
        Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
        Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

        If it's not in my E-mail it doesn't happen. And if my E-mail is saying
        one thing, and everything else says something else - E-mail will conquer.
        -- An Israeli Linuxer


      • Nadav Har'El
        ... Ok, here s my retort ;-) First, before we can discuss what s *wrong* with this pair programming as you call it (I call it hagasha bezugot - namely the
        Message 3 of 9 , May 23, 2007
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          On Wed, May 23, 2007, Shlomi Fish wrote about "[hackers-il] Solving Homework in Pairs":
          > I later compiled my reasons as presented in that email here -
          > http://xrl.us/woh3 . I'd love to hear what you think about it.

          Ok, here's my retort ;-)

          First, before we can discuss what's *wrong* with this "pair programming" as
          you call it (I call it "hagasha bezugot" - namely the hagasha, not the
          programming, is done in pairs), we need to understand what's the heck is so
          good about it that you want it to stay.

          According to you, the good sides of this hagahsa bezugot is that "When two
          partners ... sit down to solve it there can be wonderful synergy", and that
          "it's more fun than solving it all alone". I fully agree with you that if this
          is the case, then hagasha-bezugot can be great. The question is, in how many
          course that you took, was it like that, and in how many other courses it
          was something completely different, in ways I already described (e.g., one of
          you slacked, or you divided the exercises between you and each one was
          responsible for one week's exercises)?

          I don't think it's (just) that I'm anti-social. In fact, when I was studying
          I had a friend with whom I often discussed the most difficult exercises. But
          we made a point of it never to discuss an exercies before we each try to solve
          it on our own, and because we admired each other's intelligence, we made sure
          we only gave one another "hints", rather than entire written solutions to copy.
          Perhaps we were too idealistic, perhaps we had too much times on our hands,
          I don't know. But we studied the way we did, and both got very good grades,
          so I guess it worked (or at least didn't hurt ;-)).

          On the other hand, I took once a CS course with this same guy. We were asked
          to hand in the exercies in pairs, and naturally we chose each other. We ended
          up deciding that he will do one week's exercise, and I will do the next. We
          never discussed any of those exercises, because we both trusted each other
          to do them well. We were never worried that not doing some of the exercises
          will hurt us in the test, because we both understood the material well, and
          we knew that the exercises (involving handing in a computer program) had very
          little to do with what a test would look like (done on paper, of course).

          So, to summarize, in my experience, there is not much correlation between
          hagasha bezugot (two people handing in an exercise together) and pair
          programming (two people working together to solve an exercise). This makes
          most of the arguments you present in favor of pair programming irrelevant to
          hagasha bezugot.

          During my wife's studies in HaifaU, I saw even more absurd examples of
          hagasha bekvutsot. At one time she was forced (not presented an option, but
          forced) to hand in a work in group of 6. Since there were no "natural" groups
          so large, they had to group in ad-hoc groups. Her group basically had only 2
          people doing the whole work, and 4 professional slackers. The two doing the
          work (my wife and a friend) didn't bother to do anything to change the
          situation, because they knew that the other 4 would only hurt their grade if
          they actually contributed anything to the work ;-)

          --
          Nadav Har'El | Wednesday, May 23 2007, 6 Sivan 5767
          nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
          Phone +972-523-790466, ICQ 13349191 |The knowledge that you are an idiot, is
          http://nadav.harel.org.il |what distinguishes you from one.
        • Shlomi Fish
          ... Yes, but we re arguing whether it is a good system, and whether it is good in general. Regards, Shlomi Fish ... Shlomi Fish shlomif@iglu.org.il
          Message 4 of 9 , May 23, 2007
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            On Wednesday 23 May 2007, Ori Idan wrote:
            > I think it varies greatly from pair to pair and from person to person so it
            > is hard to argue if it is good or bad.
            > For some people it is good, for others it is not.

            Yes, but we're arguing whether it is a good system, and whether it is good in
            general.

            Regards,

            Shlomi Fish

            ---------------------------------------------------------------------
            Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
            Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

            If it's not in my E-mail it doesn't happen. And if my E-mail is saying
            one thing, and everything else says something else - E-mail will conquer.
            -- An Israeli Linuxer
          • Shlomi Fish
            Hi Nadav! ... pair programming ? I m sorry, but I didn t call it pair programming . I called it Working in Pairs , Solving in Pairs , or Pair-Wise
            Message 5 of 9 , May 31, 2007
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              Hi Nadav!

              On Wednesday 23 May 2007, Nadav Har'El wrote:
              > On Wed, May 23, 2007, Shlomi Fish wrote about "[hackers-il] Solving Homework
              in Pairs":
              > > I later compiled my reasons as presented in that email here -
              > > http://xrl.us/woh3 . I'd love to hear what you think about it.
              >
              > Ok, here's my retort ;-)
              >
              > First, before we can discuss what's *wrong* with this "pair programming" as
              > you call it

              "pair programming"? I'm sorry, but I didn't call it "pair programming". I
              called it "Working in Pairs", "Solving in Pairs", or "Pair-Wise Assignments".
              Sometimes I worked on many things that were strictly not programming,
              e.g: "dry" (i.e: not-"wet" and not computer-based exercises).

              I believe pair programming as advocated by XP and others is very different
              than the solving in pairs in the Technion. But this is out of the scope of
              this email. I'm advocating both XP-like pair programming and "Handing
              assignments in pairs", but from different reasons.

              > (I call it "hagasha bezugot" - namely the hagasha, not the
              > programming, is done in pairs), we need to understand what's the heck is so
              > good about it that you want it to stay.

              Fair enough let's call it "Handing in pairs".

              >
              > According to you, the good sides of this hagahsa bezugot is that "When two
              > partners ... sit down to solve it there can be wonderful synergy", and that
              > "it's more fun than solving it all alone".

              It's only one of the seven reasons I've given, but let me defend it.

              > I fully agree with you that if
              > this is the case, then hagasha-bezugot can be great. The question is, in
              > how many course that you took, was it like that, and in how many other
              > courses it was something completely different, in ways I already described
              > (e.g., one of you slacked, or you divided the exercises between you and
              > each one was responsible for one week's exercises)?

              I feel that in most of the courses I took and had to hand over the assignments
              in pairs we:

              1. Sat on it together.

              2. Solved together.

              3. It took us less time.

              4. We learned a lot from each other.

              There were a few instances of exception:

              1. In the "Intro to CS in C" course, my partner did not know programming, but
              has a lot of free time. When we set over at the Fisbach farm to prepare the
              exercise (using Borland Turbo C++ - %-)), he always had an idea on how to
              solve it, but I kept telling him how to do it better (being more experienced
              and a better programmer). He was the one who wrote it on the computer.
              Eventually, I got over 90 in that course, and I learned that he got a good
              passing grade.

              I feel that he learned a lot from me in this case, and yet I learned a lot by
              teaching him.

              2. I took "Intro to Systems' Programming" ("Mamath" - the EE equivalent of the
              CS "Matam") which I wanted for the academic credit, not because I didn't know
              the material. Now my partner was practically unreachable and unresponsive, so
              I ended up solving everything on my own. He didn't mind too much. I don't
              know how well he did on the exam, but it's his fault not mine.

              3. In the course "Analog Communications", my partner was married, had a baby,
              had a work, and took some projects, and as a result, had little time to meet
              with me and was always very tired. The exercises we were given were very
              hard, and we didn't know how to prepare them. We ended up copying them from
              different people who were more knowledgable.

              I ended up failing the course on both tests (which I did not cheat on), and
              kept the course out of my final diploma, because I didn't feel like I knew it
              well.

              ----------------------

              However, as a general rule we both set on the exercises together, both got a
              passing grade, and both knew the material very well.

              >
              > I don't think it's (just) that I'm anti-social. In fact, when I was
              > studying I had a friend with whom I often discussed the most difficult
              > exercises. But we made a point of it never to discuss an exercies before we
              > each try to solve it on our own, and because we admired each other's
              > intelligence, we made sure we only gave one another "hints", rather than
              > entire written solutions to copy. Perhaps we were too idealistic, perhaps
              > we had too much times on our hands, I don't know. But we studied the way we
              > did, and both got very good grades, so I guess it worked (or at least
              > didn't hurt ;-)).
              >

              I prefer to discuss things with a friend. I indeed often looked at the
              exercises before that, and thought about them, but actually meeting my
              partner and having a face to face contact with him, really helps.

              > On the other hand, I took once a CS course with this same guy. We were
              > asked to hand in the exercies in pairs, and naturally we chose each other.
              > We ended up deciding that he will do one week's exercise, and I will do the
              > next. We never discussed any of those exercises, because we both trusted
              > each other to do them well. We were never worried that not doing some of
              > the exercises will hurt us in the test, because we both understood the
              > material well, and we knew that the exercises (involving handing in a
              > computer program) had very little to do with what a test would look like
              > (done on paper, of course).

              OK. I never alternated in handing such assignments. And you're generalising
              based on one instance, and in that case - you. You realise this is heavily
              anti-scientific.[1]

              When my friend and partner for many courses took the Mathematics department
              Set Theory course, we realised that the scope of the exercise was too big for
              both of us. So we ended up solving it together (in a synergical way) and my
              friend wrote the solution (because he had a better hand-writing) and we
              handed it together. It was less work than handing two identical solutions him
              with his hand-writing, and mine with my crappy hand-writing. But we each got
              only half the credit.

              My hand writing is another thing I'm frustrated about. When I came to the
              Technion my hand-writing was pretty bad, and it only deteriorated. Part of it
              was probably that I became more and more used to keying things on the
              computer, and part of it was probably because of my
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar_disorder .

              When I talked about it to the Student's councellor she told me I need to go to
              6 hours long (!!) tests at "Makhon Ya'el" headed by a certain Psychology
              professor from Haifa University, which will test if my bad hand writing is
              caused by a certain mental problem of mine. Between losing a productive and
              happy day, which could potentially mean I won't be better, and getting some
              crappier grades - I chose the latter.

              As it turned out, I could have given them a letter from my psychiatrist that I
              am Bipolar or pseudo-Bipolar and it could have been sufficient to grant me
              some benefits. (But not all like meeting face to face to the lecturer to
              explain what I wrote.)

              >
              > So, to summarize, in my experience, there is not much correlation between
              > hagasha bezugot (two people handing in an exercise together) and pair
              > programming (two people working together to solve an exercise). This makes
              > most of the arguments you present in favor of pair programming irrelevant
              > to hagasha bezugot.

              Which, I might add, you haven't addressed yet. ;-)

              >
              > During my wife's studies in HaifaU, I saw even more absurd examples of
              > hagasha bekvutsot. At one time she was forced (not presented an option, but
              > forced) to hand in a work in group of 6. Since there were no "natural"
              > groups so large, they had to group in ad-hoc groups. Her group basically
              > had only 2 people doing the whole work, and 4 professional slackers. The
              > two doing the work (my wife and a friend) didn't bother to do anything to
              > change the situation, because they knew that the other 4 would only hurt
              > their grade if they actually contributed anything to the work ;-)

              A 6-members group is an absurd. In English one says that "one is alone, two is
              company, and three is a crowd" so six is probably already an army. I don't
              encourage working in groups of six, but I still think pairs or triplets are a
              good idea.

              Regards,

              Shlomi Fish

              [1] - let's prove that all non-even numbers above 1 are prime just because 3
              and 5 (or even just 3) are.

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------
              Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
              Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

              If it's not in my E-mail it doesn't happen. And if my E-mail is saying
              one thing, and everything else says something else - E-mail will conquer.
              -- An Israeli Linuxer
            • Nadav Har'El
              ... The professor must have thought to himself, God! What planet are these guys from? ... He didn t tell you that you can hand-in exercises together, and yet
              Message 6 of 9 , May 31, 2007
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                On Thu, May 31, 2007, Shlomi Fish wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Solving Homework in Pairs":
                > When my friend and partner for many courses took the Mathematics department
                > Set Theory course, we realised that the scope of the exercise was too big for
                > both of us. So we ended up solving it together (in a synergical way) and my
                > friend wrote the solution (because he had a better hand-writing) and we
                > handed it together. It was less work than handing two identical solutions him
                > with his hand-writing, and mine with my crappy hand-writing. But we each got
                > only half the credit.

                The professor must have thought to himself, "God! What planet are these guys
                from?"... He didn't tell you that you can hand-in exercises together, and
                yet you did. You admit that each of you were unable to do the exercise alone,
                and that you tried to cut down on the amount of work - so can you really be
                surprised that you got half the grade? Should you get the same grade as people
                who did all the work on their own?

                > My hand writing is another thing I'm frustrated about. When I came to the
                > Technion my hand-writing was pretty bad, and it only deteriorated. Part of it

                Did you ever try to work on this issue? I never wrote - using paper and
                pencil - so much as I did in the technion. I literally wrote thousands of
                pages, finished more than one eraser, and till this day (13 years after
                finishing my BA) I have a small "yabelet" on my hand where I held the pencil.
                Writing is part of your studies, and there's nothing you can do about it
                (nowadays you can use the computer more, and hand all exercises printed,
                but still you'll need to write on paper during tests). Better learn to deal
                with it, as much as you can (given your medical condition) rather than fight
                it...



                --
                Nadav Har'El | Thursday, May 31 2007, 14 Sivan 5767
                nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
                Phone +972-523-790466, ICQ 13349191 |Bore, n.: A person who talks when you
                http://nadav.harel.org.il |wish him to listen.
              • Shlomi Fish
                ... No, I didn t admit that. You re jumping to conclusions. We could have done the exercise each on his won. We were two very intelligent people who eventually
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 4, 2007
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                  On Thursday 31 May 2007, Nadav Har'El wrote:
                  > On Thu, May 31, 2007, Shlomi Fish wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Solving
                  Homework in Pairs":
                  > > When my friend and partner for many courses took the Mathematics
                  > > department Set Theory course, we realised that the scope of the exercise
                  > > was too big for both of us. So we ended up solving it together (in a
                  > > synergical way) and my friend wrote the solution (because he had a better
                  > > hand-writing) and we handed it together. It was less work than handing
                  > > two identical solutions him with his hand-writing, and mine with my
                  > > crappy hand-writing. But we each got only half the credit.
                  >
                  > The professor must have thought to himself, "God! What planet are these
                  > guys from?"... He didn't tell you that you can hand-in exercises together,
                  > and yet you did. You admit that each of you were unable to do the exercise
                  > alone,

                  No, I didn't admit that. You're jumping to conclusions.

                  We could have done the exercise each on his won. We were two very intelligent
                  people who eventually both graduated from the Technion's EE department
                  cum-laude, which is a feat that requires quite a bit of intelligence. We
                  certainly could have handled the first exercise of a first-semester Math
                  department course.

                  However:

                  1. Had I done it alone, it would have been handed in my incredibly awful
                  hand-writing.

                  2. It would have required each of us to either work on it on our own (much
                  more work and less synergy), or alternatively solve it together and then each
                  hand a different copy with his hand-writing, or in my case something written
                  in English in LaTeX, which would have taken me a lot of time to key into the
                  computer.

                  The end result was that I eventually dropped the entire semester and took it
                  off, due to this course and other very interesting, but demanding courses.
                  This was the only voluntary course I took from the Math department except
                  for "Game Theory". In Game Theory, I ended up not preparing the homework
                  (voluntary) most of the semester, buying the Open University booklets,
                  studying from them close to the test, and getting a passing grade in the
                  test. I felt the material was quite enlightening.

                  > and that you tried to cut down on the amount of work - so can you
                  > really be surprised that you got half the grade? Should you get the same
                  > grade as people who did all the work on their own?

                  If the Math department had a bit more human factors engineering, they would
                  know that it doesn't matter. But they don't and they don't care.

                  >
                  > > My hand writing is another thing I'm frustrated about. When I came to the
                  > > Technion my hand-writing was pretty bad, and it only deteriorated. Part
                  > > of it
                  >
                  > Did you ever try to work on this issue?

                  No, I didn't. I didn't care enough. At least not until now.

                  > I never wrote - using paper and
                  > pencil - so much as I did in the technion. I literally wrote thousands of
                  > pages, finished more than one eraser, and till this day (13 years after
                  > finishing my BA) I have a small "yabelet" on my hand where I held the
                  > pencil.

                  So the Technion also claims your body? And sorry for all the trees.

                  > Writing is part of your studies, and there's nothing you can do
                  > about it (nowadays you can use the computer more, and hand all exercises
                  > printed, but still you'll need to write on paper during tests). Better
                  > learn to deal with it, as much as you can (given your medical condition)
                  > rather than fight it...

                  Well, just a note:

                  I already have a Bachelor of Sciences (B.Sc.) in Electrical Engineering from
                  the Technion. This is good enough to be accepted into most jobs (and
                  certainly most jobs that I care about). Hell, I'm qualified enough to program
                  missiles or work for NASA using a B.Sc. degree.[1]

                  {{{{{{{{
                  [1] - Qualified, but it would be a stretch to think I'll be ready or that I
                  won't need any training.
                  }}}}}}}}

                  As such I have little motivation to get a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. The
                  way I saw it, the first B.Sc. should be taken in order to eat and make a
                  living. A B.Sc. in EE was about the best I could get with my interests for
                  that, and the Technion is a pretty good school for that.

                  Furthermore, right now, I have no intention of getting any further higher
                  degrees any time soon. I recall having suffered enough abuse while being in
                  the Technion, and it will take a lot of time for me to recover my senses.

                  At the moment, I'm leaning towards having a degree in something more humane,
                  like History of the Old World (Near East, Europe and North Africa), or
                  Linguistics, or English and/or other languages. Perhaps something else.

                  If I will do a Ph.D. in a Realistic field, then it probably won't be in the
                  Technion.

                  Right now, I've got much better things to do with my time, than study such
                  things in the form of a university. The Wikipedia and other online and
                  offline resources are good enough for that, and I admit that I have perhaps
                  dedicated too little time for reading them.

                  At the moment I'm working on my home-site, blog, essays, articles, open-source
                  projects, stories and other projects. This is what gives me and others the
                  most benefit, and teaches me the most. Going back to university will be a
                  huge waste of time, and will likely give me much more frustrations (due to
                  my "medical condition"), than being unemployed or even working at a good,
                  unabusive workplace ever can.

                  With enough work on my online resources, some white-hat-SEO and viral and
                  non-viral publicity, I can become well-known enough to be self-sustaining, as
                  well as be able to get a lot of contracts or commissions. I don't need a
                  Ph.D. in Philosophy to become a Philosopher. Most Philosophers have not had
                  one. And I don't need to be a qualified writer to write essays or stories,
                  which I have been writing for 10 years now, and received many compliments
                  for.

                  As for programming - it is a well-known fact that some high school kids with
                  one year of experience can write much better code and are much more
                  productive than some people with Ph.D.'s in Computer Science and 5 years of
                  experience. So again, the CS qualifications are not a panacea.

                  Just for the record, I realise every programmer, including very good ones, can
                  write bad code and they sometimes even do. But only good programmers can
                  write good code. Likewise for writing essays, articles, and stories.

                  Regards,

                  Shlomi Fish

                  P.S: and just for the record - I still think I'm right when claiming it is a
                  better idea to allow working in pairs. I find that Nadav has still avoided
                  refuting my reasons.

                  ---------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
                  Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

                  If it's not in my E-mail it doesn't happen. And if my E-mail is saying
                  one thing, and everything else says something else - E-mail will conquer.
                  -- An Israeli Linuxer
                • Nadav Har'El
                  ... Ok, let s make one last attempt, even though I think I already answered you. First, let s assume that you mean really working in pairs (because the more
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 4, 2007
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                    On Mon, Jun 04, 2007, Shlomi Fish wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Solving Homework in Pairs":
                    > P.S: and just for the record - I still think I'm right when claiming it is a
                    > better idea to allow working in pairs. I find that Nadav has still avoided
                    > refuting my reasons.

                    Ok, let's make one last attempt, even though I think I already answered you.

                    First, let's assume that you mean really "working in pairs" (because the
                    more common requirement is "handing in pairs" and nobody checks how you
                    worked).

                    The reason one studies for a degree is, in my opinion, three-fold. ONE is
                    to learn material. TWO is to get experience in solving difficult problems
                    in your field (not necessarily the mundane problems you'll be asked to
                    solve in your first year on the job - a university is not a vocational school).
                    THREE is to "get on the same page" as the peers you'll be spending your
                    professional life with - learn how they think, how they talk, how they
                    cooperate, and so on.

                    Issue #3 - learning how to cooperate with your peers in your professional
                    domain - is indeed important. You want future scientists and engineers to
                    be able to talk to others using terms they understand, to work together,
                    and so on. But how much emphasis should be given to this issue, vs. the
                    other two (material and problem solving)? I believe that more emphasis should
                    be given to the material and problem-solving skills, because of several
                    reasons: these are wider and deeper areas than cooperation skills, they
                    are harder and less natural for the typical student, and they are things a
                    typical student would not be able to learn "on the job".
                    So my belief is that a university should spend some time on issue #3 - it
                    *should* teach terminology, nomenclemature and methodology that make it easy
                    for researchers in its field to cooperate, and it should give the students
                    some practical experience in cooperating - in the form of some pair-work
                    courses, some cooperative project, or whatever. But it is my belief that the
                    university should NOT turn each and every course into an exercise of
                    cooperation. The reason there are a few dozen courses in a degree is because
                    there are a few dozen subjects that need to be learned - not because
                    cooperation has to be exercised a few dozen times.

                    And I mentioned that when cooperation (pair work) is encouraged, care must
                    be taken not to let it run wild. If students can finish an entire course
                    not doing anything while their friend (or 5 friends, in the absurd example
                    I mentioned in my last mail) do their work for them, it is simply not fair.
                    This isn't a big problem when there are just a few courses like that
                    (especially when in the Technion's undergraduate courses, there is normally
                    a test in the end and that isn't done in pairs at all), but if you "run wild"
                    with the pair work idea, and every course is done completely in pairs,
                    someone could concievably finish a degree without ever doing a thing, and
                    without even violating any law (someone who buys solutions also can finish
                    a degree without ever doing a thing - but at least this is considered illegal).

                    I hope now you'll find that I answered your reasons. You don't have to agree
                    with what I said, though ;-) Like I said, we can agree to disagree on this
                    subject.

                    --
                    Nadav Har'El | Monday, Jun 4 2007, 19 Sivan 5767
                    nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
                    Phone +972-523-790466, ICQ 13349191 |A professor is one who talks in someone
                    http://nadav.harel.org.il |else's sleep.
                  • Shlomi Fish
                    Hi! Sorry for the late response. ... I think reason #1 (repharsed a bit) - to get knowlege is the most important one, followed by #2. Usually, #2 is seen as
                    Message 9 of 9 , Oct 19, 2007
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Hi!

                      Sorry for the late response.

                      On Monday 04 June 2007, Nadav Har'El wrote:
                      > On Mon, Jun 04, 2007, Shlomi Fish wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Solving
                      Homework in Pairs":
                      > > P.S: and just for the record - I still think I'm right when claiming it
                      > > is a better idea to allow working in pairs. I find that Nadav has still
                      > > avoided refuting my reasons.
                      >
                      > Ok, let's make one last attempt, even though I think I already answered
                      > you.
                      >
                      > First, let's assume that you mean really "working in pairs" (because the
                      > more common requirement is "handing in pairs" and nobody checks how you
                      > worked).
                      >
                      > The reason one studies for a degree is, in my opinion, three-fold. ONE is
                      > to learn material. TWO is to get experience in solving difficult problems
                      > in your field (not necessarily the mundane problems you'll be asked to
                      > solve in your first year on the job - a university is not a vocational
                      > school). THREE is to "get on the same page" as the peers you'll be spending
                      > your professional life with - learn how they think, how they talk, how they
                      > cooperate, and so on.
                      >

                      I think reason #1 (repharsed a bit) - to get knowlege is the most important
                      one, followed by #2. Usually, #2 is seen as means to understand and integrate
                      this knowledge.

                      > Issue #3 - learning how to cooperate with your peers in your professional
                      > domain - is indeed important. You want future scientists and engineers to
                      > be able to talk to others using terms they understand, to work together,
                      > and so on. But how much emphasis should be given to this issue, vs. the
                      > other two (material and problem solving)? I believe that more emphasis
                      > should be given to the material and problem-solving skills, because of
                      > several reasons: these are wider and deeper areas than cooperation skills,
                      > they are harder and less natural for the typical student, and they are
                      > things a typical student would not be able to learn "on the job".

                      Right.

                      > So my belief is that a university should spend some time on issue #3 - it
                      > *should* teach terminology, nomenclemature and methodology that make it
                      > easy for researchers in its field to cooperate, and it should give the
                      > students some practical experience in cooperating - in the form of some
                      > pair-work courses, some cooperative project, or whatever. But it is my
                      > belief that the university should NOT turn each and every course into an
                      > exercise of cooperation. The reason there are a few dozen courses in a
                      > degree is because there are a few dozen subjects that need to be learned -
                      > not because cooperation has to be exercised a few dozen times.

                      What I said[1] (and you keep avoiding addressing) is that since the final exam
                      is the lion's share of the grade, then a student who completely relied on his
                      partner to prepare his exercises for him (and didn't otherwise study the
                      material on his own) will likely fail the course. (Assuming the test is not
                      fair, and other factors like that).

                      {{{
                      [1] - Point #1 in:

                      http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/computers/education/opinion-on-the-technion/#why_pair_wise
                      }}}

                      So making the course pair wise, cannot cause a student to pass, because he
                      relied on his partner to do his work his him, and thus get an undeserved
                      grade.

                      >
                      > And I mentioned that when cooperation (pair work) is encouraged, care must
                      > be taken not to let it run wild. If students can finish an entire course
                      > not doing anything while their friend (or 5 friends, in the absurd example
                      > I mentioned in my last mail) do their work for them, it is simply not fair.
                      > This isn't a big problem when there are just a few courses like that
                      > (especially when in the Technion's undergraduate courses, there is normally
                      > a test in the end and that isn't done in pairs at all),

                      Exactly. I wasn't talking about a course whose score is 100% dependent on pair
                      work. By all means, a solitary test, on which most of the grade is based, is
                      a good idea.

                      > but if you "run
                      > wild" with the pair work idea, and every course is done completely in
                      > pairs, someone could concievably finish a degree without ever doing a
                      > thing, and without even violating any law (someone who buys solutions also
                      > can finish a degree without ever doing a thing - but at least this is
                      > considered illegal).



                      >
                      > I hope now you'll find that I answered your reasons. You don't have to
                      > agree with what I said, though ;-) Like I said, we can agree to disagree on
                      > this subject.

                      Regards,

                      Shlomi Fish

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                      Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
                      Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

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