Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Academic Dishonesty in Computer Coding Classes

Learning how to write code in a computer science class can be a ticket to a lucrative job, but professors are encountering students who turn in assignments with copied code from unauthorized sources ("As Computer Coding Classes Swell, So Does Cheating," The New York Times, March 3, 2017). Specialty software can catch copied code especially when students use substitutes for typical coding terms. One interesting idea at Harvard University was when a computer science professor added a “regret clause,” allowing those who confess to cheating "within 72 hours receive an unsatisfactory or failing grade on the assignment, and avoid further discipline — unless they do it again" and mentioned in an earlier blog post. Still some class members are unclear about how much consultation with other students, as encouraged by professors (and professional programmers), is acceptable. On one Harvard syllabus it states that "you may have your code viewed by others, but you may not view theirs."

Discussion Questions:
  1. What do you think about the "regret clause" where you can confess to cheating within a certain time to avoid harsh punishment?
  2. How can professors make it clear what's acceptable collaboration and what isn't? Should they include a list of what you may and may not do to avoid cheating? Or should punishable offenses be obvious to students once they reach college?