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Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:24 am UTC
by Levi
So, in my physics class this morning on my way out, one of the other students asked "Do you need the solutions manual for the test?" I declined, but I'm not sure what to do now. I've thought about it and decided I would just ignore it, but when I was searching the forum to see if there was already a similar thread, I found this:
Bakemaster wrote:By choosing to hide another student's plagiarism, you would be complicit in it.

I'm wondering if it applies to this. The thing is, though, that I'm not absolutely certain the "solutions manual" isn't just a study guide thingy (but it does seem highly, highly suspicious). Also, it would just be my word against his. Heck, I don't even know his name and I'm not sure I would recognize him. Bleh, I guess I can't really do anything if I don't know who he is. Advice would be appreciated anyway.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:53 am UTC
by Cathode Ray Sunshine
Did he mean if you needed the solutions manual to study, or to use it on the actual test? Maybe it's just me but that part seems ambiguous. I don't know if that's the case, but some professors pick problems from the book they're using in class for the exams.

I won't lie, I have used solution manuals in the past. Usually it helps me understand where the answers come from and if I'm doing stuff correctly. If it hadn't been for that, I am not sure I would have passed Vectorial Mechanics. My teacher explained some topics in such a way that the solutions manual was useless anyway (he explained it much simpler and better, mind you), but at least if I got stuck on a problem and my next class was in 3 days and no tutoring in those days, I could at least make some sense of the problem and what steps I was missing.

Anyone who just copies from it and doesn't bother actually doing the work and figuring out how to do the problems and the logic behind them, isn't going anywhere and most likely isn't going to pass the class. Trust me, I've seen it happen first hand.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:08 am UTC
by Levi
Yeah, the ambiguity was one of the reasons I decided not to say anything. I had been hoping someone might confirm that I was wrong.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:31 am UTC
by scarecrovv
Levi wrote:So, in my physics class this morning on my way out, one of the other students asked "Do you need the solutions manual for the test?" I declined...

So some random person asked you a question, and you said no and walked away? First of all, the question was ambiguous. Was he offering you the solutions, or was he merely asking if you needed them? He didn't say he actually had them, or that he even had any intention or means of obtaining them. Secondly, you don't know who this person is, so even if you knew they'd been doing bad things, you have no way of identifying the perpetrator to the authorities. Thirdly, there is a difference between hiding something, and failing to report it. If you are asked about it, respond with all you know, of course. To do otherwise would be hiding it. However, I don't think you're under any obligation to offer information unsolicited.

You're solidly in the clear.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:34 am UTC
by engr
I don't see it as cheating unless your professor prohibits using SM for homework. Homework is not an exam. Looking into a solutions manual is not much different from coming to professor/TA's office hours and asking him a question about a difficult HW problem.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:40 am UTC
by Levi
Alright, cool. I wasn't really sure exactly what a solutions manual was, but it sounded suspicious.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:48 pm UTC
by sikyon
Levi wrote:Alright, cool. I wasn't really sure exactly what a solutions manual was, but it sounded suspicious.

You probably should go and get the solution manual. They are usually useful study tools.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:48 pm UTC
by Dopefish
Depending on the textbook, theres sometimes a students solution manual, which might list for example full solutions to all the odd numbered problems, with the expectation that instructors will assign even numbered problems. Those things tend to be quite useful, as neighbouring problems are often similar and can help you figure out what you're doing.

Some books don't have student solution manuals, and instead just have a handful of final answered list at the back of the book to serve a similar purpose.

Most books though also have an instructors solution manual, which would have full solutions to *every* problem in the book, and those are the things that students aren't meant to have (and indeed, those trying to purchase them generally need to prove they're instructors). I wouldn't necessarily say that a student having the instructors solution manual is inherently cheating though, as some professors make up their own problems rather than assign book problems, and in that case a student using the instructors solution manual as a study aid can be fine.

It's only when a course is assigning problems directly from the book, and someone is directly copying from the instrctors solution manual that it really becomes cheating imo. If someone happens to have the instructors manual and the assigned problems are in it, but they're using the manual to help them learn the material and ensuring they understand the solutions (as opposed to blindly copying) then that might still be technically cheating, but I wouldn't have any moral issues with it.

All the above said though, exams/quizes are almost always prepared by the instructor, and so it's unlikely that solutions (in the form of an answer key) would be floating around. If someone has been cheating on assignments, it's likely to show up on exams/quizes, so I wouldn't worry too much.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:26 am UTC
by TheNorm05
I've noticed this is more prevalent in physics classes with take home exams. Not like it helped most people I've known to cheat though. I never used the Manual and I still set the curves letting everyone else muddle in the 20-60 range. It's cheating, but finals are usually in-house so they're really just cheating themselves.

Re: Cheating

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:22 am UTC
by modularblues
On a related note (not about exams, but paper writing), I found this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education illuminating. "Ed Dante" is also an amusing alias.