CompSci 249s: February 15



Discussion Prep


From the University of Minnesota's UTA Handbook:

Grading Uniformity

Suppose you are TAing for a large class that has a number of TAs. The professor has each TA grading a section of the class. You get some student complaints that you have deducted points for a mistake that students in another section did not lose points for.

Q1. Do you think this is a serious concern?

Q2. If so, what can you do to address the concern?

Q3. How can you prevent something like this from occurring in the first place?

Handling Problems

Suppose a TA is grading an assignment, and the professor asks the TA to return the graded assignments in lab on Thursday so students have them to study before a midterm the following Monday. The TA waits until Wednesday to start the grading, then is unable to get all the grading done on time. Due to a heavy schedule the next day they don't finish the grading until Friday afternoon, too late to return the assignments to students before the weekend. Moreover, they don't notify the professor (or other TAs) about the grading (or reply to any professor email about the grading) until they have finished it on Friday.

Q1. How could the TA have avoided this problem in the first place?

Q2. Once it became clear that the grading would not be done on time, what did the TA do to make the problem worse? What could they have done to handle the problem better?

Office Hours

Suppose you are spending a lot of time in office hours with a student. But even though you are explaining things carefully and repeatedly, they are just not grasping what you are explaining.

Q1. If you have been in a similar situation in the past, what did you do?

Q2. What else might you do to handle this situation?

Difficult situations

Time Management

Suppose that you discover that next week you have to grade a midterm for the class you are TAing, spend substantial time on a project for one class you are taking, and study for a midterm for another class you are taking.

Q1. How can you avoid neglecting one or more of these?

Q2. How can you prevent something like this from occurring in the first place?

Academic Conduct 1

Suppose that, when grading, you notice that two students' solutions are identical, even though the assignment instructions clearly state that students should not work together, and even though the assignment was complicated enough that the chance of all answers being identical is negligible. You happen to see one of the students later that day, and ask the student about the similarity. The student tearfully confesses that they copied the other student's work because they had trouble at work lately, were falling behind in the class, and were afraid of failing it. The student also asks you not to report the incident to the instructor because they were afraid of getting "kicked out of school."

Q1. What are the your responsibilities in this situation? Should you report the incident to the instructor?

Q2. Should personal circumstances be taken into account when deciding whether cheating occurred?

Academic Conduct 2

Suppose that you are TAing a class and a student turns in some code that is suspicious because the code style seems much different than what that student usually writes. You do a web search and find that the code is fairly similar, although not quite verbatim, to code posted on a web site. When asked about this, the students admits to viewing the site, but claims that they wrote their own code based on what they learned at the site, rather than copying the code verbatim. The student also claims that viewing the web material was not cheating since the class syllabus prohibits getting solutions from "others," and the students claims this does not prohibit getting help from online resources, other texts, etc.

Q1. Is it cheating for a student to search the web (or other resources) for solutions to a homework problem, even if they do not copy verbatim any solutions they find?

Q2. Do you think what the student did was cheating? Why or why not?