HomeQ&AHomework questions: should we do/ignore/delete them?

Homework questions: should we do/ignore/delete them?

13
votes

Moe opened the pandora box with this comment:

We are a learning community. I want members who are anxious to be a participating and contributing part of the community.

Nor are we a homework service for students who have not learned how to do their own research either here on our community site or any other place. ..The more they are spoon-fed here, the more they expect that established behaviour to continue. We should be showing them how to find the answers they need and then helping them over the hurdles and hard parts when they have made an effort and need a coach.

I have seen Moe's posts on some of the homework threads and feel this is the way to go. I have deleted threads by kids who do not even bother to write correctly or at least say please in their posts.

However, I can also see Gus's point of view, very interesting and excellent post.

**What is your opinion?**

(I have found the bolded parts very interesting indeed)

And, about the people that want us to do their homework, actually they are doing us a favor because we get a chance to practice what we have learned. It is not our concern if they do not learn, who knows they might not be too serious about acquiring languages skills. Is their loss not ours. We are not their parents- we are not responsible for their lack of enthusiam. Moe, please don't be offended, you have a good point but,don't get carreid away. So, the new people don't want to give any information, it is ok, If no one pushes them, thy might give some information later at their convenience not at our convenience. Remember that we are powerless over peple, places and things.

7981 views
updated SEP 13, 2010
posted by 00494d19
i guest so - desiweenie, OCT 20, 2009

30 Answers

14
votes

I think that everybody that has responded to this question has made valid arguments regarding the question. I have a few opinions of my own on the matter that will probably echo some of the sentiments already presented.

1). I think that "kids" should do there own homework. That being said, I don't think that anyone joined this site to become homework police. Most people joined this site (I would imagine) with the improvement of their own Spanish abilities in mind. At least, I did.

2). What is a "Homework question" When I see poorly worded and easily answered questions like, "what Cómo estás" or "What is seasons," it is clear to me that these are homework questions, but when I see other questions that are well thought out and provide context and details like "is this the correct use of the subjunctive, for example...," I also recognize that these may also be homework questions. In this I notice that the more advanced a question tends to be, the more eloquent the person asking the question will be in asking the question, but this does not make it any less of a homework question.

3). Rules should be applied evenly. I notice that many of the types of questions that are attacked as being homework questions tend to be of the less advanced variety. I also notice that the people who single out these questions tend to be at least of intermediate ability in Spanish. At the same time, I have seen more advanced/intermediate questions that could just as easily be assumed to be homework questions that were a bit more challenging and were answered by some of the same people that normally chastise novice Spanish speakers for their "homework" questions. The question of "what constitutes a good question" seems somewhat subjective and tends to depend more on whether the question is of interest to the responder than to whether the question is a homework question.

4). Questions are beneficial to all people involved. I don't think that we should do anything that would intimidate or make somebody afraid to ask (or answer) a question. I generally answer questions that I find challenging or that might require a bit of research on my part, because I know that by researching a question, I am benefiting myself.

5). Everybody deserves the benefit of the doubt and to be treated with respect. I don't know what kind of effort a person has put into looking for an answer for themselves, but I am not going to go around accusing people of not trying hard enough. I know that some questions may seem elementary to some of us and easily researched, but this is due also to a difference in ability to perform research. It takes time to develop research skills, and not everybody is going to be at the same level of ability in this skill. Just because somebody is at a lower skill level (In Spanish, English, Research, etc) does not mean that person should be treated like an imbecile simply because that person does not yet have the skill set of a more advanced student. None of us has any way of knowing what kind of effort a person has put into a question before answering it. If we are so interested in a person being able to learn for themselves then it is probably better to gently point them in the right direction than to bark at them for having the audacity to ask such mundane questions. It comes down to degree. I am sure that each of us has asked questions that more advanced speakers would find trivial, so we should not be offended when someone of a lower level of ability comes to us with a "trivial" question.

6). Responding to questions is a choice not a responsibility I don't tend to give direct answers to the more basic question, but this is only because they are not challenging to me. Another person might view these easy questions as a way to reinforce or show off what they have learned. Who am I to stop someone else from learning/reinforcing there own skills. If someone doesn't feel like they can benefit from answering a question then don't join in the discussion, but don't reprimand someone else for taking an opportunity to practice/reinforce their own skills. I have also noticed that some of these "easy homework questions" are also sometimes answered incorrectly by some of the responders. This just shows that the questions provide a teaching opportunity for more than just the person answering the question. Sometimes even more than one person will answer incorrectly, and you will often see someone of more advanced skill come in and correct these errors to these "simple questions." If these questions were simply deleted, then the people that attempted answers would never have had the opportunity to make these mistakes and then to have been corrected. Should we deny these types of learning opportunities on the sole basis that the question is not stimulating to us? If someone has already answered the question correctly, I think I usually try to provide suggestions to where that person can look or ways in which the person could try to perform research for themselves to try to help them better there research skills, but I try to do so in a tactful and non-confrontational manner. I think it is also important to remember that just because someone answers a question does not mean that you cannot still supply that person with instructions on how they could answer the question themselves or tutor (not demand/reprimand/chastise) them on ways in which they might better research the question themselves.

7). We should not take our own frustrations out on others. I know that sometimes there seems to be a dearth of interesting or stimulating questions especially around "homework hour," but if we want better questions, then perhaps we should turn those accusatory fingers around and point them at ourselves. Yes, we all enjoy more challenging and thought-provoking questions, but if at a certain time of the day there do not seem to be many of these types of questions, perhaps we should ourselves be asking more provocative and interesting questions rather than humbugging others' questions. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and I can't see how giving someone instructions while at the same time belittling them is going to make that person receptive to any instructions that we are trying to give them. The tone that I have witnessed in some people's reaction to these mundane "homework questions" has sometimes come off as if the person were trying to tell the other person, "Hey dummy, stop asking stupid questions. The only reason you cannot answer this is either because you are a jackass or because you are a no good dirty cheater, so which is it.....now...take my suggestion on what you should do....." Taking a tone like this is not likely to get anyone to be receptive to your intended message. Nobody wants to be talked down to, and I would contend that nobody really listens when they are talked down to. I have seen some comments about people who ask questions and then don't say "thank you" or "please," but politeness is a two way street and it is not something that can be demanded (saying please/thank you through gritted teeth is not really being polite), especially if we are not setting a consistent example for politeness ourselves, and I would contend that the verbal dressing down that is given to some of the more novice users/speakers is not at all polite.

These are just some things to consider (if anyone even read this lengthy post).

updated SEP 13, 2010
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
I did :-) Great speech. Couldn't agree more. - Maciek071, OCT 16, 2009
Thanks, Izanoni, I can see myself in some of what you posted as "dressing down" people who ask simple homework questions. I will be more mindful in the future. Thank you for the reminder to be polite. - --Mariana--, OCT 16, 2009
Hi, Marianne. I wasn't trying to single anyone out in particular. I am sure that there are times when I could have been nicer as well. - Izanoni1, OCT 16, 2009
I just thought that it was important to recognize that there is a line between constructively urging/helping someone to be a better student and between discouraging/chastising a person for asking a question. Far to often this line seems to get crossed. - Izanoni1, OCT 16, 2009
I understand completely. :-) - --Mariana--, OCT 16, 2009
This is a great post. I agree with almost everything, and you've taken the time to really elaborate on a few key points. Gracias! - miloszdom, OCT 16, 2009
Brilliant and wholesome appraisal of thjs subject, let us all learn from it and be more tolerant. - kenwilliams, OCT 16, 2009
Izanoni - Where do you find the time? Great input and analysis. - ian-hill, OCT 17, 2009
Yes I took the time to read it. It took over two hours but entertaining as always, hehe. - Eddy, SEP 13, 2010
sorry, can't help myself - point No 1: 'their' own homework :p - Kiwi-Girl, SEP 13, 2010
Great post btw Izanoni :) - Kiwi-Girl, SEP 13, 2010
11
votes

As for me, Gus is right. I am the beginner in Spanish and I like to give answers for even the most simple questions, of course if I know them, because I am learning myself doing this. Maybe there should be a special part of this forum ("Homework"?) for those posts?

updated SEP 13, 2010
posted by Maciek071
that is a good suggestion for a solution Maciek - nizhoni1, OCT 16, 2009
I like this idea, of a separate section for homework help. - miloszdom, OCT 16, 2009
Me too - ian-hill, OCT 17, 2009
Mi tambien :-) - mifinka, OCT 18, 2009
9
votes

I really agree with Gus. Who knows, they may come back later with another question. One day they may read a thread on here that sparks their interest in learning Spanish. If we run them off, are rude to them or simply delete their thread, then they will more than likely not return to this site. I have told many people about this site, but if my questions had been met with some of the answers I have seen i would have never even came back. I have made a few counter-productive remarks to some of the questions, but I have decided that is probably not in the best interest of Spanishdict. I really like the way Goyo answers the questions though, telling them them to at least try and we will be there to help.

updated OCT 17, 2009
posted by Seitheach
7
votes

As some of you know I am a teacher in a sub-separate program for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. One of my biggest challenges is having them take risks to ask questions in class. After a question is asked I direct them. I do not give them the answer (depending on the level of functioning I direct the student accordingly). Asking the question, no matter the level, is the important point here. This does not mean you give the answer. You can learn Spanish through teaching what you know by directing the students to the appropriate answer. I am not even close to this level and value all who are patient with me while learning the language. I just feel if we delete or ignore the questions the people asking will not have access to the people with the vast knowledge of the spanish language. The design of the site is a great one with many resources in which to figure out and learn whatever you need to learn. Direct the questions and foster the love of the language. smile

updated SEP 13, 2010
posted by Jason7R
very interesting jason - 00494d19, OCT 17, 2009
7
votes

I tend to agree with Gus. We can chose which questions to address.Some of the questions may touch on something I need to learn how to look up or put in my own fund of knowledge.I ignore others that may bore me or look "lazy".

Since the only thing we see is the type on the screen with some of these questions it is pretty difficult to extrapolate from that to the exact attitude behind a question.If I err I would prefer it to be from an attitude of kindness rather than a punitive stance.If one wants to take the attitude of offering a proper role model, that is the one I would chose.

I believe most people have had the experience of seeing something in an email written with one intention but taken in a hurtful way.Some of the responses made to these individuals have looked hostile and alienating to me, and they weren't directed toward me.It makes me wonder how many individuals have backed off from making a good faith effort to write something for fear of being chastised.

In a perfect world everyone would be doing the "right" thing. I hope the tone of my responses lean toward shaping some of these folks toward more active responsibility for their learning while I answer their questions when I can.They will suffer the consequences of their action in real time if they are as disinterested as some might believe.

updated OCT 16, 2009
posted by nizhoni1
6
votes

I can see both sides of this problem as stated most eloquently by Moe and Gus. I must admit to not being consistent with my approach to these type of questions. Firstly it depends on whether the question is a request or a demand. A demand, goodbye, A request, I move onto my second stage which is pointing them in the right direction, dictionary, conjugator, Heidita, etc. I mean they have to meet her sometime, why not get it out of the way, hehe. Finally if they make an effort and do come back on the post, even if it's to say they cannot work it out, then I go all out to find an answer. This may not be acceptable to everyone but it's my approach.

updated SEP 13, 2010
edited by Eddy
posted by Eddy
6
votes

I think everyone is making some really great remarks. Personally, when I see obvious homework questions, I simply ask the person to take a look at the Forum Rules (always providing the link). That correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation are required and that they should make an attempt at an answer before expecting any answers. They can also check out the Learn page and the Reference section to find lots of answers. Then welcome to SpanishDict and I hope to see you around more often!

We need to make sure these people come back. If we scare away the beginners, then they won't come back when they are intermediate or advanced. I know it gets frustrating saying the same things over and over without sounding irritated, but I think we should give it a try.

updated DIC 22, 2009
posted by Paralee
5
votes

2). What is a "Homework question" When I see poorly worded and easily answered questions like, "what Cómo estás" or "What is seasons," it is clear to me that these are homework questions, but when I see other questions that are well thought out and provide context and details like "is this the correct use of the subjunctive, for example...," I also recognize that these may also be homework questions. In this I notice that the more advanced a question tends to be, the more eloquent the person asking the question will be in asking the question, but this does not make it any less of a homework question.

Izanoni makes a point here that made me stop to think. I was wondering if adding a "Homework Guidance" section (emphasis on guidance) in the drop down box would be helpful. I know it would not be a perfect system. However, when seeing that at the top of a post, we would know immediately how to address the question.

I am not suggesting by any means, that we do the homework for them. I am merely suggessting that beyond the obvious, which is checking the reference section, we give students all the tools possible to help them. It could possibly also be a balance between those who do not want to assist with homework issues and those who enjoy learning from the answers posted to these questions. There are valid points to both sides of this argument.

Any thoughts?

updated DIC 16, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
5
votes

Great posts. After reading them all, it seems like there is actually some general consensus regarding how we interact with certain kinds of questions.

Since I've joined, I've had nothing but amazing and encouraging interaction with all the members who have engaged my questions. Without exception, I've been treated with a great deal of respect. But let me add that, as a new member of only two weeks or so, I've been astonished at SOME of the regular members' responses to what we are trying to define as "homework questions." I would describe some of these responses (by regular members) as rude, childish, and reprehensible. I think it is something of a disgrace that someone would choose belligerent chastisement over simply ignoring a question which is so terribly easy to do.

I also think that questions which are targeted for deletion should be STRICTLY defined. I'm thinking of questions that are really asking for one-to-one word translations of words that are in the SpanDict dictionary. Clearly the asker has not bothered to understand one of the primary functions of this site; it's a dictionary. But sometimes, there might be a word that needs translation which is not in the dictionary. Similarly, an "easy" question should not necessarily be deleted. A responder might ask the questioner to use the search function, or might provide a link to an earlier thread, or might just ignore the question.

I think we should always be approaching questioners with encouragement, OR, in the case of a question that is just not thoughtful or respectful in terms of what the site offers, then it should just be ignored. I can hardly think of a circumstance that would provoke, let alone necessitate, someone's ire and negative attitude, chastisement, presumption, condescension, etc. Those members who have chosen to act in such a manner should be embarrassed.

updated OCT 17, 2009
posted by miloszdom
HI milo, very interesting post, however, I dont think on this site we have these kind of members you describe - 00494d19, OCT 17, 2009
4
votes

Me disculpan los participantes, en su mayoría anglo-parlantes, que exprese mis opiniones en Español. Sin embargo, es mi lengua materna y me siento más cómodo.

He leído con mucho detenimiento todos y cada uno de los comentarios de los participantes en esta discusión y quisiera dar mi punto de vista.

Gracias a Dios estamos en un país libre y cada cual puede opinar lo que quiera. Aparte, este es un sitio 'gratis' y 'todo el mundo' es bienvenido al foro. Yo creo que hay unas reglas muy claras, establecidas para todo el que quiera participar y, esas reglas se deberían cumplir, sin excepción, para todo el mundo, si nó, se nos sale de las manos. Para eso se establecieron.

El asunto es que debería haber una sola persona, o al menos dos, que decidan, escriban y califiquen cada una de las solicitudes. En este momento, todos los que participamos somos libres de decirle a la persona que participa por primera vez, esto o aquello, y en mi concepto, no debería ser así. Aparte, esta persona de la que he hablado debería saber si el asunto que se solicita ya ha sido tratado anteriormente y así todos ganamos tiempo, ya que me he dado cuenta que algunas de las solicitudes ya han sido atendidas anteriormente, sin embargo, se repiten y se repiten inmisericordemente.

Con base en mis comentarios, muy comedidamente solicito a Heidita y su cuerpo administrativo sus amables comentarios.

Muy respetuosamente,

Ricardo P.

updated SEP 13, 2010
edited by RicardoP
posted by RicardoP
4
votes

As a teacher, I always tell my students: I'll accept any answer that was given by you, not by someone else. I remember googling for some suspicious piece of writing - and after checking a few websites, I found it. Personally, I hate the "copy'n'paste" approach.

Just before I checked on this thread, I opened a new one - what is the correct verb form of tener and my answer was: "Try posting your answer first and we'll check it. This is not a "do-my-homework" website". Of course, I do agree with all who say that it's important not to discourage new users. But I wonder how many of those who came here with their homework to be done stayed longer, used our dictionary, saw at least one lesson, read any posts others than these about their homework or even clicked on one of the ads? I don't mind people asking even about the most elementary issues, but why don't they at least try to answer it first? Some of them do so, and that's fine. This page is mostly about learning and teaching, right? Let's not teach young people such an "on demand" approach. I know that registering on any forum takes less effort than googling for the word "conjugation", but raising a generation of people who act like couch potatoes grasping desperately onto a remote control that'll do all the job for them is the worst idea of all.

updated DIC 16, 2009
posted by Issabela
The couch potatos arent "acting", some of my kids friends are developing "eyes" all over...lol - papadragon, OCT 17, 2009
4
votes

Wow, this has been a great discussion! I think this topic has been examined from most angles. I myself am at a loss sometimes because I don't know exactly where a person is coming from. Unfortunatly, because we usually have limited information about anyone posting a question, we will make mistakes in our approach towards them. I know I have made some mistakes along the way.

One thing I've noticed, is that we must be careful of how we respond to some of the newcomers. I think that until we know a little more about someone, we should limit the sarcastic comments. I myself am a big fan of teasing and sarcasm to someone I feel more comfortable with. However, if I am on a site for the first time and someone answers me "Try the dictionary, duh!!"I don't think I would come back. On the other hand, I've been here awhile. If Heidi or someone I know says the same thing, I think it is funny. I think people forget that the same ways we approach people in our daily lives, is the same way we should approach them here.

I think something we are all guilty of forgetting is that not everyone who comes here for the first few times realizes all of the features this site offers. I myself have discovered some new things recently. Navigating around a site takes time. Unfortunately, not everyone reads all of the rules etc. at first.

Moe and Gus both have valid points. This is not a homework service. Just last night someone posted the same question twice (asking us to hurry up because they had a project due the next day). I think that if we supply answers to every question and don't direct them to help themselves, this site could very easily gain the reputation of being "the place to go" to get easy answers for homework. I don't see that happening since so many do guide people to look up the answers themselves. We just have to make sure we do it in a polite way. But, as Gus points out, at the end of the day, even if some of those students looking for homework answers slip through the cracks, we are still learning something. I do agree with Paralee. If we scare newcomers away because we are frustrated or annoyed by the same questions over and over, they will not return and be useful members of this community as they advance in the Spanish language.

Perhaps if even a few of us consistently follow the same policies, others will follow by example. Maybe we can come up with a reference article about proper ways to answer all questions. smile

updated OCT 17, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
thanks nicole - 00494d19, OCT 17, 2009
4
votes

I've followed a number of these 'homework question' discussions over the last few weeks. Each time I've started writing an answer but not submitted it because I felt I wasn't adding anything new to the discussion. This time I will hit that 'Answer' button - so here are my thoughts.

I don't think anyone should be discouraged from answering a homework question, nor should they be criticized for doing so.

I think Heidita is perfectly right in deleting posts that do not follow the guidelines.

When I read these homework questions I ask myself the following question : "What would my response be if this was one of my children asking me the question?". Almost always the answer (to my question) is that I would ask them what they had already done to try and answer the question (have you used a dictionary, verb tables etc?) but I would also try to understand why they need help on the specific points they raised.

So I would always favour a response that encouraged the questioner to use the dictionary, conjugation, translation resources and then to return with any extra questions if this did not help. Those that are willing to learn more will do so. Those that only want to get their assignment completed before the next installment of their favourite TV show are less likely to do so.

updated OCT 16, 2009
posted by RandyBrewer
3
votes

I answer to bump this up - it is definitely worth reflecting on how we respond to requests for straight translations of single, basic words or phrases.

While I try to direct the person posting such questions to the dictionary without giving the answer, perhaps, as others have discussed above, the person asking just can't figure out the dictionary, for whatever reason. Something that seems simple to me may not be that simple to someone else. But I will probably keep pointing to the dictionary for questions that look like they could be answered there.

I am always grateful for the help I get on this site, especially the corrections. I have become much bolder about trying to say things in Spanish, knowing that my honest effort will be corrected to help me learn.

Thanks to everyone for a good discussion and for all your contributions to this great site.

updated SEP 13, 2010
posted by revmaf
3
votes

goodbye, A request, I move onto my second stage which is pointing them in the right direction, dictionary, conjugator, Heidita, etc. I mean they have to meet her sometime, why not get it out of the way, hehe.

LOL

I have always thought Eddy is the best judge for many things, but this does it, jeje

I have enjoyed reading all the opinions, I have come across the post Marianne directed somebody to have a look in the dictionary and Nicole (I think) supported her by giving the guy an example, the guy opened a new thread and got the answer (I deleted this thread) Hopefully the person had not seen the answer yet. I think it is extremely disrespectful if somebody is pointing out, please look at the rules, dictionary etc to supply the answer, which is easy to find. I mean, questions like "Which is the capital of Spain?"(and not with this spelling, of course) are quite unacceptable in my opinion.

I am a teacher myself and I must admit I would hate my students to get the answers to their questions easily and without any kind of effort on the web, you post them , you get them. That is not the aim of a learning site.

I have invited several posters to repost (closing not deleting the thread) after reminding them that certain spelling mistakes are not allowed or admitted on this site, and this has not happened. I have seen many threads repeated, miraculously by different posters, as these guys register with several user names and get their answer one way or another. Which proves my point, these kind of people do not come here to learn but get an easy answer.

However, I do see the point in saying that we do not have to impose enthusiasm on the poster. Some younger people like Erik, might find the questions even interesting as they are normally at a very easy level.

After seeing this thread and reading all posts carefully, I will allow threads with homework questions , but the poster will have to at least use correct spelling and punctuation. I would also ask you please respect a forer who has asked the forer to make his own try and post his answer first and not go and give a fast answer until that poster has actually done what he was kindly asked for.

El asunto es que debería haber una sola persona, o al menos dos, que decidan, escriban y califiquen cada una de las solicitudes. En este momento, todos los que participamos somos libres de decirle a la persona que participa por primera vez, esto o aquello, y en mi concepto, no debería ser así.

This was posted by Ricardo, one of the great Spanish posters heresmile

I don't agree with this, Ricardo, actually, I have personally encouraged several posters like Marianne, Nicole, Moe, Greg, Ian and a long etc. to help with posts, corrections and such. This is great help and due to their reputation it will be clear to a newcomer that a well esteemed member is talking and that the advice is a good one. Actually I would like to invite everybody, Ricardo, I am also thinking of you of course, to help with this site, Eddy and I deal with a lot of things and help on these issues is greatly appreciated.

I think we should always be approaching questioners with encouragement, OR, in the case of a question that is just not thoughtful or respectful in terms of what the site offers, then it should just be ignored. I can hardly think of a circumstance that would provoke, let alone necessitate, someone's ire and negative attitude, chastisement, presumption, condescension, etc. Those members who have chosen to act in such a manner should be embarrassed.

HI Milos, first I refuse to believe members like you describe in your post exist on this site, we have a friendly atmosphere here and we would like to think the general attitude is friendly and not condescending or presumptuous. However, if you think it is presumptuous to indicate that another member is not following the rules, that cannot be helped, as we greatly appreciate any member who indicates to another ," hey, please read the rules", newcomers as well as oldieswink

Thanks to everybody who has posted here, and read the whole thread which has become rather longish.

Muchas gracias a todo el mundo por vuestro interés en este sitio y por vuestra inestimable colaboraciónsmilesmilesmilesmile

updated SEP 13, 2010
posted by 00494d19
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