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Re: [hackers-il] Solving Homework in Pairs

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 of 9 , Oct 19, 2007
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            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

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