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Math Help - Is it cheating?

  1. #1
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    Is it cheating?

    Hey All:

    I have been taking a correspondence Math 11 course (in less than 4 months!) and will be writing my test any day now - I have had THE WORST time trying to memorize all the formulas - if I can see the formula in front of me, I can do the work no problem, but I am FREEZING up every time I try to commit them all to memory

    . . . a friend said that since I am allowed to take my Graphing Calculator into the exam, I should program some formulas into the calculator.

    Before I take the time to do that, I want to make sure this is NOT cheating! Do you have a general consensus on this?

    Thanks in advance for everyone & anyone's input!
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    Quote Originally Posted by sux@math View Post
    Before I take the time to do that, I want to make sure this is NOT cheating! Do you have a general consensus on this?
    If by using the calculator you are going to be worrying that somebody would catch you, then that is cheating. Otherwise it is okay.

    If you are not sure. Then ask your teacher.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sux@math View Post
    Hey All:

    I have been taking a correspondence Math 11 course (in less than 4 months!) and will be writing my test any day now - I have had THE WORST time trying to memorize all the formulas - if I can see the formula in front of me, I can do the work no problem, but I am FREEZING up every time I try to commit them all to memory

    . . . a friend said that since I am allowed to take my Graphing Calculator into the exam, I should program some formulas into the calculator.

    Before I take the time to do that, I want to make sure this is NOT cheating! Do you have a general consensus on this?

    Thanks in advance for everyone & anyone's input!
    I know that even though I didnt on the Caclulus AB exam most kids programmed stuff like \sin(2x)=2\sin(x)\cos(x) and there didnt seem to be a problem with it.

    I dont think its cheating..but it creates a moral dillema...are you really worthy of getting a good grade if you need a crutch?

    Thats just my opinion
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    Quote Originally Posted by sux@math View Post
    Hey All:

    I have been taking a correspondence Math 11 course (in less than 4 months!) and will be writing my test any day now - I have had THE WORST time trying to memorize all the formulas - if I can see the formula in front of me, I can do the work no problem, but I am FREEZING up every time I try to commit them all to memory

    . . . a friend said that since I am allowed to take my Graphing Calculator into the exam, I should program some formulas into the calculator.

    Before I take the time to do that, I want to make sure this is NOT cheating! Do you have a general consensus on this?

    Thanks in advance for everyone & anyone's input!
    Cheating is defined by your school, if the instructor says you shouldn't do it, then it is cheating. However, as far as moral implications, that's dependent upon each individual. I wouldn't personally feel that it is "wrong" even if it is deemed "cheating" but at the same time, I have a perspective about school that in any useful course, I should follow the rules because learning is more important than getting a good grade. In this case, math counts as a useful course, so I would not cheat in a math course. Actually I probably wouldn't cheat in any course, because of how I feel about education, but I also wouldn't call it "wrong" to cheat, so if I were you, I'd figure out what my school allows for and then weigh it against what my personal morals allow for (if you're coming here hoping for someone to justify actions that you feel are wrong, then you're looking for the wrong thing, noone else can dictate your morals to you, if you feel it is wrong, then either it is wrong for you, or you need to change your moral standards).
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    Thanks for replying, guys!

    Yeah, I know - I mean, I guess because I'm *not* a math major & have no intentions of being one, I feel like, why is it a problem to need to see the formula....I try to compare to my own field of study - Graphic Design - and of course, it's perfectly acceptable for me to look up anything I need to, on the other hand, there are so many things that I will *eventually* have memorized as part of my day-to-day tasks, that I see as parallel to a mathematician (sp?).

    .... it's not a matter of being "afraid of being caught," as I will only do it if it's not wrong, you know?
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    Hello,

    Quote Originally Posted by sux@math View Post
    Hey All:

    I have been taking a correspondence Math 11 course (in less than 4 months!) and will be writing my test any day now - I have had THE WORST time trying to memorize all the formulas - if I can see the formula in front of me, I can do the work no problem, but I am FREEZING up every time I try to commit them all to memory

    . . . a friend said that since I am allowed to take my Graphing Calculator into the exam, I should program some formulas into the calculator.

    Before I take the time to do that, I want to make sure this is NOT cheating! Do you have a general consensus on this?

    Thanks in advance for everyone & anyone's input!
    Teachers who allow graphing calculators know that you can program things in it. So it's not really cheating the rules since you're given the possibility to do it, and that it is - I think - widespread.

    However, memorizing is part of learning. It'd be cheating on yourself to create on purpose a way to remember what your memory couldn't keep. The aim of learning formulas is not to know them all. It's to understand them, to know what they mean. So that it'd be easier to remember them. It has to be sort of a reflex when you have to use formulas or find formulas...

    This is only a personal opinion. Let me just tell you my experience. When I was in high school, I entered some formulas I was struggling with in my calculator. It let me learn too, since I entered it like I was demonstrating. But I've thought about that, and as soon as the teacher forbids graphing calculators, you will lose part of your working, spent to enter the formulas rather than learning and practicing it.

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  7. #7
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    (if you're coming here hoping for someone to justify actions that you feel are wrong, then you're looking for the wrong thing, noone else can dictate your morals to you, if you feel it is wrong, then either it is wrong for you, or you need to change your moral standards).[/quote]

    No, no! Because math is NOT my field, I am wondering if there are universal standards for this type of thing - I mean, I have found some of my math tutors think it's wrong and refuse to use calculators at all.....

    And yeah, I'm confused as to whether I would deserve a good grade if I need a crutch. See, I had four units and my marks were: 90, 65, 75, 90. On *much* of that I needed a tutor and I consulted formulas.

    But, math is not natural for me at all, and so I have worked REALLY REALLY hard.....basically, though, YES if I am allowed to use a shortcut, I want to!
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  8. #8
    Super Member angel.white's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sux@math View Post
    Thanks for replying, guys!

    Yeah, I know - I mean, I guess because I'm *not* a math major & have no intentions of being one, I feel like, why is it a problem to need to see the formula....I try to compare to my own field of study - Graphic Design - and of course, it's perfectly acceptable for me to look up anything I need to, on the other hand, there are so many things that I will *eventually* have memorized as part of my day-to-day tasks, that I see as parallel to a mathematician (sp?).

    .... it's not a matter of being "afraid of being caught," as I will only do it if it's not wrong, you know?
    If I were personally in your situation: a graphic designer who does not care about mathematics, and is not interested in education as a whole so much as the field of graphic design in particular. Then I would enter them on my calculator. Unless it was deemed "cheating" in which case I would have to weigh it out, because your school does not care about your personal morals, if they deem it wrong, they will punish you for it (probably with expulsion) regardless of your beliefs about the matter.

    However, it should be noted that I do care about education as a whole (though I am a bit frustrated that I am required to take a literature course this summer) so that position is mostly speculation about how I would act. Another thing to consider is, as Mathstud said, using the calculator can be a crutch, even if it is in an area you don't care about, you are still teaching yourself to use a crutch when you find yourself in difficult circumstances rather than teaching yourself to overcome the difficulty. There is a risk that this mindset could carry over into other aspects of your life, sort of a slippery slope, where you train yourself to take the easy way out rather than to become good enough to handle the difficulty you are facing.

    It is a difficult balance to find I expect, on one hand, we can accomplish much more with good tools, but on the other hand, tools can be inhibitors if they are relied on too heavily. A bus is a great way to get around town, but if the bus breaks down, and you've never had to navigate to your destination before, you may not know where to go. This trade off seems inherent in any tool, it is up to you to find the balance and use it wisely.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by angel.white View Post

    A bus is a great way to get around town, but if the bus breaks down, and you've never had to navigate to your destination before, you may not know where to go. This trade off seems inherent in any tool, it is up to you to find the balance and use it wisely.
    Excellent point, Sensei!

    Okay, you know what? I'm convinced! I need to close MHF and just MEMORIZE MEMORIZE MEMORIZE right now!

    THANKS SO MUCH, everyone! Man, I love this place - you guys are all awesome!
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sux@math View Post
    Excellent point, Sensei!

    Okay, you know what? I'm convinced! I need to close MHF and just MEMORIZE MEMORIZE MEMORIZE right now!

    THANKS SO MUCH, everyone! Man, I love this place - you guys are all awesome!
    Good luck, some useful techniques are:
    1. use the formula, ie do a number of problems which require you to know the formula.

    2. write all your formulas on one side of a paper, and all the hints on the other side. (ie write sin(2x) on one side, then 2sin(x)cos(x) on the other, you can easily flip the edge of the paper and see the answer. Write all your formulas down on the sheet like this, then go down the list, and saying the solution as you go, do this in order, then you remember where your formulas are on the page compared to the other formulas as well, you basically "group" or "block" the formulas all together. Sort of like flash cards I guess, but with all the cards on the same sheet)
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    This is not going to apply to your situation, just want to say my view on calculators. When I was in high school I have never owned a calculator. And still do not own one of those fancy calculators. I considered it to be wrong to use a calculator. Even in my last year of school, all my friends had those fancy graphing calculators, I did not even have one that does arithmetic, but when the exams came I finished the tests in like 30 minutes while everyone else took at least 1 hour. The reason why I did that is because I consider that calculators corrupt mathematical ability. Though I am not in any way against calculators. I have computer programs that do complicated computations and I use them. My point is that when one is learning math it should be done with no calculator at all, hence there should not be a calculator within mathematical education in school. However, once the person mastered his basic skills he can start using calculators. For example, though I never owned a Texas-Instruments calculator I can do non-trivial computations with it, such as computing integrals and matrix inverses. I never read any manual. It is just that since I had an understanding of math I was able to decode how to use the calculator. Of course, I am not in any way saying you should throw away your calculator during your exam, because you are already used to using it. I am just explanaing how I view calculators.
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    I have never read a course syllabus in my life that includes a section on 'Academic Integrity' but fails to include something along the lines of: "Please see me if there are any questions about what is permissible."

    Nonetheless, I look at as an "is it allowed or is it not allowed" type of thing. Ideally, I find out "officially" from the teacher. Else, if I am unsure, I err on the side of caution and don't do it. Morally, I find nothing wrong (within the context of academic integrity) with anything that is "procedurally" allowed (by the teacher). As a poster above said, don't have anything to hide.

    Some advise: do not consult the dumbest kid in the class.
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    Hi, sux@math! It is really great that you are taking the time to consider the moral implications of your actions before doing them, rather than simply worrying about what you can get away with. This is a good attitude to have, both in school and in life.

    It seems like you have already made your decision (and I agree that you have made the right choice), but if you want some additional support, consider that if you were to carry out this action, you could be, at least in a minor way, hurting the other students. If you violate an explicitly set rule against formula sheets, then you are gaining an unfair advantage over other students who are following the rules, and in doing so you would be devaluing their grades. Consider also, that if you are caught, not only do you risk discipline, but your act could lead to stricter rules against calculator usage, which again hurts other, honest students.

    Of course, if you think your instructor should allow you to do this (and you could certainly make some good arguments for this case), then I suggest you speak to him or her about it, and certainly, if such formula usage is subsequently authorized for all students, there should be no problem with you doing it. But as long as doing so would give you an advantage over rule-abiding students, I suggest you stay away from such acts.

    Does that help any? Again, I appreciate your consideration for your actions, and I wish you luck with your course! When it comes to memorization, the best advice I can give you is to put whatever you are trying to memorize into practice; by frequently applying something, you will automatically memorize it, both in math and in other subjects. So, go through your book or problem sets and practice problems using the formulas you are having trouble with. Once you use them enough, memorization will come naturally and easily.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moo View Post
    Teachers who allow graphing calculators know that you can program things in it. So it's not really cheating the rules since you're given the possibility to do it, and that it is - I think - widespread.
    Moo, I must respectfully disagree with you here, on both points. First, allowing the use of graphing calculators does not mean that there can be no rules on how those calculators are used. For example, many courses will allow you to use scrap paper to write on, but that doesn't mean you are allowed to fill up the paper with answers before coming into the class, even though you are given the possibility to do so. Similarly, instructors will allow you to use the Internet when writing research papers, but that does not mean you are allowed to plagiarize or copy others' material, even though the instructor is aware that such a thing is possible.

    Second, that something is justified because it is widespread is a very weak argument. Your actions can have a negative effect on yourself and others, and the commonality of such actions does not change that. For example, shoplifting and theft in general are fairly widespread, but I doubt that you would say such acts are justified in all cases.

    This is not to say, of course, that one should always follow the rules or that disobeying a rule is never justifiable, but I think one needs a better argument than merely stating "Everyone else does it!" or "But it's no big deal! I won't get caught."
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    Hello Reckoner,

    Quote Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
    Moo, I must respectfully disagree with you here, on both points. First, allowing the use of graphing calculators does not mean that there can be no rules on how those calculators are used.
    Every time we had a test, we were told what kind of calculator we were able to use. They all knew we could enter formulas in it.. This is what I meant by "widespread" : graphing calculators are part of the students' material and teachers know what they can do with it.
    Several teachers told us that they would allow this kind of calculator, but will make the test more about demonstrations than calculus.

    For example, many courses will allow you to use scrap paper to write on, but that doesn't mean you are allowed to fill up the paper with answers before coming into the class, even though you are given the possibility to do so.
    Right example, but here, scrap paper is almost something essential, whereas a graphing calculator can be replaced by a normal one. So the teacher is given the choice...

    Similarly, instructors will allow you to use the Internet when writing research papers, but that does not mean you are allowed to plagiarize or copy others' material, even though the instructor is aware that such a thing is possible.
    They set up rules. If they're broken, what can they say ? Students know they have to do a research... But I agree with you here, it's ambiguous.

    Second, that something is justified because it is widespread is a very weak argument.
    See what I meant by "widespread" :x sorry about that. "Well-known" would have been more appropriate :-)

    Your actions can have a negative effect on yourself and others, and the commonality of such actions does not change that. For example, shoplifting and theft in general are fairly widespread, but I doubt that you would say such acts are justified in all cases.
    --

    This is not to say, of course, that one should always follow the rules or that disobeying a rule is never justifiable, but I think one needs a better argument than merely stating "Everyone else does it!" or "But it's no big deal! I won't get caught."
    It's not the good reasoning for sure. But this comes from the teacher : "I give you the possibility to use graphing calculators".

    This is how I saw things working in my country, maybe it's different in the USA, I'm sorry, I didn't think it would be that different
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    Hello again, Moo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moo View Post
    Every time we had a test, we were told what kind of calculator we were able to use. They all knew we could enter formulas in it.. This is what I meant by "widespread" : graphing calculators are part of the students' material and teachers know what they can do with it.
    Several teachers told us that they would allow this kind of calculator, but will make the test more about demonstrations than calculus.
    Again, allowing the use of a graphing calculator does not give students implicit permission to enter formulas into it. Opening up a possibility for cheating does not mean that such cheating is permitted, in the same way that leaving your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition doesn't mean it's okay for someone to steal it, even though it will probably happen anyway.

    If an instructor allows students to store formulas in their calculator then they may do so, but if it is disallowed, then that rule is independent of the authorization to use the calculator itself, even if the instructor expects that students will probably disobey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moo View Post
    Right example, but here, scrap paper is almost something essential, whereas a graphing calculator can be replaced by a normal one. So the teacher is given the choice...
    You sound as if the only purpose of a graphing calculator is to store formulas. There are plenty of other legitimate reasons why one would want to use a graphing calculator on an exam. Perhaps an instructor wants to have students solve some problems graphically, or maybe he or she feels it inappropriate to require students to spend $10 on a new scientific calculator when the graphing calculator they already own has all of the necessary capabilities. Allowing the students to use the device does not imply that they accept cheating with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moo View Post
    See what I meant by "widespread" :x sorry about that. "Well-known" would have been more appropriate :-)
    While this changes your meaning somewhat, I still say that a teacher knowing about a possible avenue of cheating and not preventing it does not imply that they allow such cheating. Yes, I'm sure that most teachers probably know what students can do with a graphing calculator, but that does not mean that they automatically accept or allow misuse. Of course, unenforceable rules are often a bad idea, but if the rule is there and for good reason, it should be followed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moo View Post
    It's not the good reasoning for sure. But this comes from the teacher : "I give you the possibility to use graphing calculators".
    But when did the teacher say "I allow you to store formulas or notes in the calculator"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Moo View Post
    This is how I saw things working in my country, maybe it's different in the USA, I'm sorry, I didn't think it would be that different
    What difference does one's country make? Certainly, different cultures, communities, and even individuals will tend to carry different moral views, but if you are trying to argue over whether something is right or wrong, your country of origin is usually irrelevant.

    That is, unless you were referring to the actual tendency of students to use graphing calculators for storing formulas, and teachers' knowledge that it is commonplace, in which case I would say that the US is probably not much different from France or most other locations. I wasn't arguing that this sort of thing doesn't happen, only that it shouldn't happen.
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