I'm not 100% sure whether this belongs here, but since I am a PhD student (teaching) in the TCS/Algorithms department, I'd like to know what fellow, maybe more experienced, teachers think.
The question at hand is whether we should offer sample solutions to all our exercises for, e.g., a Data Structures & Algorithms lecture. I am convinced that this would be a highly beneficial service for our students whereas my advisor is against it. Here are the pros and cons that we came up with:
Students have access to high-quality answers when they don't understand something.
Our expectations on verboseness, conciseness, depth of proofs, etc. can be communicated more clearly.
A student can individually study using the solutions and is not forced to attend the tutorials if this is not his preferred style of learning
We (the professor/tutor) have a clearer idea of what solutions to expect since we have to work the problems ourselves.
The tutor (me) is more free in the design of the tutorial. Without sample solutions, the tutorial basically boils down to writing the sample solutions on the blackboard. Otherwise I can't be sure that everyone has at least seen the correct way how to solve it. Little interaction is involved.
It costs time and/or money.
Students may stop being engaged in the exercises since they know they can always look at the sample solutions.
Students may stop coming to the tutorials.
We can't reuse exercises from past years since students might have access to (and use) past sample solutions.
If we do it once, the students might expect we do it for every lecture.
To be clear, in both cases the students are expected to solve the exercise sheets on their own, and they will be graded. I'm merely interested in what to offer after this has happened.
I think that's all. Optimally, I would like to find some kind of empirical study that proves that sample solutions increase the "productivity" of students. Data always wins. However, so far I couldn't find anything like this.
To discuss the points mentioned above, my general opinion on these matters is that if we can offer more services using little work, we should always do it. If someone really misuses it (as stated in the cons), he or she will notice that this is the wrong approach the latest in the exams. My advisor, however, wants to minimize the time spent on lectures and have me rather do the research relevant to my PhD. Since I have to do the solutions anyway, the overhead for providing a sample solution is maybe 2-3 hours/week.
What do you think?