Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Helping a friend? Giving only the beta version

A friend of mine got into trouble in a first year subject. It was a programming subject where a project is given and a large chunk of the total marks is assigned to it. My friend did the assignment by himself while others preferred to do it in small groups.

Shortly after my friend completed the project, a classmate whom he's not close with came asking for a copy of the completed source code. Something to refer to, the guy said. My friend was gave him what he asked.

When my friend submitted the project, it turned out that the classmate's group had submitted the exact, same source code. The tutor called them and asked who copied who. Since the the real culprit refused the fess up, all of them got low marks for the project (the tutor almost gave them zero).

My friend related this incident to a motivational speaker who came to our school. The speaker listened to my friend's story and told him the following advice: in situations like these, only give them the beta version.

In other words, the 70% or 85% completed version. But never the completed one.

This is actually applicable to virtually any of kinds of problem, not just programming assignments. The way I see it, this beta version advice is helpful in at least two ways. One, we can avoid any accusations of plagiarism. We can work on the unfinished version until it's finished and submit it, while the other guy works on his version. If both people continue to work on their own, then it's likely the end result is two different (although similar) outputs. In case we need to eliminate any apparent similarities, give the friend the 50% (or less) completed version.

Two, this gives our friend the chance to not copy but to figure out the solution for himself. If he chooses to do so, he'll be helping himself to learn. And that's a win-win outcome.


dzul said...

Having no appreciation for help given by others is well, really bad.

Haha beta version that's a good idea.

rol said...

I recalled this advice recently when a friend asked to borrow an old MIS assignment. I couldn't just it hand to him since it was my group's collective effort, so I gave him the parts I did, which was 20% of the whole thing.

dzul said...

one thing I notice is, lots of people nowadays no longer appreciate a "true help" but instead they prefer a "fake help". Lol, I might be included but I really hope I'm not or if I ever was, I hope I would no longer be one.

rol said...

True help and fake help. Never thought of those before. Thanks for raising them up. It's been said a lot these days that we live in fast times. Everything needs to be "quick" or "soon", if not "now". Instant gratifications. True or fake, in this case is entirely another matter.

dzul said...

haha, regarding those I don't really know if I put it correctly for others to understand but I can't think of any other way to say it. It just something that linger in my mind not so long ago. For example, when someone offered to guide some friends on how to do their assignment, they refuse the offer but they would thank people a thousand times if he did the assignment for them.

rol said...

Ah, yes, now I see what you mean. That happens, unfortunately, when people have the wrong work attitude. I can't say that I'm entirely not guilty though. I'm also due for a work ethics self-review.

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