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Could Copying Homework Lead to a Course Failure? These Test Results Prove the Answer is Yes.

Could Copying Homework Lead to a Course Failure? These Test Results Prove the Answer is Yes.

By Leah Westfall

June 21, 2011

If you thought cheating was the easy, quick way to better grades, turns out you’re wrong. A new study indicates that students who cheat on homework actually learn less and are more likely to fail exams—and the overall course.

Physical Review Special Topics- Physics Education Research, a free online journal, recently published the results of a test four individual staff members from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) department of physics, conducted on students who copy homework.

The 11-page document detailed the way in which students were tested using a web-based tutorial homework system called MasteringPhysics.com. The system was used for the four largest introductory calculus-based classes in the physics department at MIT. The calculus-based intro classes are a requirement for all MIT undergrads. MasteringPhysics.com was an online homework assignment that not only tracked student’s answers but how fast they answered.

According to the document multiple problems were blocked out to students using the online system until the previous question was answered. Copying was detected by measuring how fast average students, or “real time solvers,” answered the questions compared to “quick solvers.” The “quick solvers” answered the question in less than one minute, which is insufficient time to read the problem and enter the answers, it was then inferred that these students were not intellectually engaging in the question and consequently copying their answers.

The results of the test are as follows, according to the document there is considerable research that shows that doing homework leads to greater learning. The document states that “the correlation between copying online homework and declining academic performance, relative to those who do not copy is extraordinary strong.” Finally, the most striking correlate with repeated homework copying (students that copied more than 30% of their answers) is severely declining performance relative to class average.

Conclusion: Copying Does Not Pay Off

The document concludes that online homework copying is very likely a significant fraction in overall course failure. So listen up students, not only can online homework copying be detected but it can actually lead to the eventual failure of the course. To avoid this pitfall get started on homework before its due date, give yourself ample time to complete the assignment honestly by putting in the work instead of resorting to other means. Doing the work now will pay off in the end when it comes to your final grade.


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