In university courses, is it possible or good habit to ask help for homework exercises one can't solve? I mean, someone might think it is cheating but on the other hand, should a student be stuck in some particular problem for days?

The course I take is about version control on git and there are questions in an online system. One question has six different true/false questions, where one can choose on different alternatives. The system has informed me that my answer is incorrect; however, it does not explain why my answer is incorrect, and I'm not able to figure that out by myself.

  • Six true false questions generate only 2^6 = 64 combinations. You can try all of them in an hour and get 100% correct. May 13, 2020 at 10:11
  • There is a limit that one can try only 15 times the set of six questions so one can't test every possible combination.
    – guest
    May 13, 2020 at 16:17

3 Answers 3


In higher education, the role of educators is to help facilitate students' learning. One of the main mechanisms for that is to provide students with high-quality feedback on their assessments. Simply delivering lectures is not very efficient. Testing students using multiple-choice questions through automatic tools is also not very efficient. Even giving students a grade without explanation how it was produced is not very efficient.

If you are struggling with a task, you should approach your lecturer/professor, show them your best attempt, and ask for feedback, specifically, an explanation what is incorrect in your attempt and what you should work on to improve your understanding of the subject. And no, "your answer is wrong because computer says no, now go away and try again until it says yes" is not good enough. Politely ask for clarification of the relevant material, not mechanics of the automatic assessment.

  • 2
    Tutorials are a good place to ask if the course offers them. May 13, 2020 at 9:27

My preferred answer to that is initiative and personal contact. Just go to the lecturer/ tutor with any work you have put in the question (that is an important point as it shows engagement and own effort) and make sure you do not leave without an explanation. That includes both the lecturer repeating verbatim a text or a lecture (or fobbing you off) and the student nodding positively but not having understood. As said in a comment, tutorials are perfectly appropriate to ask questions, both during and after the class. I would strongly favour a meeting in person over e-mail correspondence, as many more issues tend to come up and be resolved, and is much faster and clearer. During the Coronavirus outbreak, this means a Zoom/ Teams/ Skype etc call rather than many emails.

Most of all, don't be shy. Teaching staff very often enjoy discussing the finer points, which do not attract much attention.


Yes, you should ask for help. But ask for help from the instructor or whoever else is designated by the instructor to give it. Don't go outside the system just to find "answers".

The point of such exercises isn't to get "answers". It is to get the student to be able to create those answers from the knowledge they get in the course. The instructor already has the answers and doesn't need the student to provide them. So, going to a third source completely destroys the entire purpose of them and also handicaps the student's learning.

However, the instructor need to have a system in place where such appropriate feedback can and will be given. If that isn't happening, then you need to complain higher up the system so that things improve. Ideally, an instructor will give "just enough" help in answering a question so that the student can get over any hurdle and get to a better understanding. This is one reason that third parties are actually harmful. They don't understand or see the whole system and so are more likely to say "too much", thus making learning harder - real learning.

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