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I just had a student inform me that software solutions to my labs (I teach a course in microcontrollers using the ATmega328P) is available on Chegg. She was uncomfortable giving me any further details. She's a very trustworthy student and I don't have any reason to doubt the veracity of the information that she gave me.

I did a lot of searching and was unable to find anything relating to my labs. I searched for my class number, my last name, the name of the course, the name of the college, and didn't find anything. I even tried searching for strings of text that contain the problem statement for a couple (but not all) of the lab questions.

How can I confirm this?

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  • Are your "labs" assessments or simply exercises? Sep 13, 2018 at 15:12
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    If they are assessments, aren't you expected to change them every year? It's a requirement in most places I know of. Sep 13, 2018 at 15:52
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    I've been told that it helps to have a paid account. Sep 13, 2018 at 16:05
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    @DmitrySavostyanov They're labs. Should I really be expected to write brand new labs every year? That is an enormous amount of effort. I write new exams, and new activities, but not new labs.
    – lemontwist
    Sep 13, 2018 at 18:47
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    @MorganRodgers I would agree if they were not being used for assessment, but as they are then they should be updated or varied, it is usually possible to change some element(s) to give different results....
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 13, 2018 at 19:34

2 Answers 2

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You can't tell if solutions to your problem sets are posted online. The internet is HUGE and some things are hidden behind paywalls or other login forms.

But what you can do is:

  • design your own exercises and modify them enough each year to make it harder to re-use solutions.
  • quiz students about their solutions to (easily) find out if they did it themselves or at least understand the code.
  • wish your students good luck with their exams, where they will not have internet access.
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Since your labs are given to students as assessments and constitute a significant fraction of their final grade, it's not really surprising they will try to share the solutions online. You can't control things on the internet. Even if you shut down one channel, the same information will reappear on other sites, check Streisand effect.

You can make your labs completely formative exercises, and publish the solutions yourself.

If you really need to attach summative weighting to them, you need to re-design this assessment each year. Writing fresh assessment tasks each year is a norm in higher education. It does require a lot of time and effort to re-write exams, tests and courseworks, but there is simply no other way to ensure the task is fair and uncompromised.

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    I don't think the Streisand Effect really has anything to do with this situation. Streisand wanted to censor something, and that in itself was interesting enough to make people want to find out what she was censoring. The allure of the taboo isn't relevant here: everyone knows that professors want to keep their solutions hidden and there's nothing surprising there that's going to make otherwise disinterested students suddenly go look up solutions just for the sake of it.
    – David
    Sep 13, 2018 at 19:50

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