I work as a remote tutor and help students understand hard concepts/problems in scientific fields in college/university/industry.

I am finding a real lack of originality in exercises assigned by teachers, who only copy and paste. This causes problems for my work because my students only have to find the question online. This lazy behaviour means that students forget everything and do not learn. It is even possible that I lose my job in the future because it is faster to copy and paste the solution from Google instead of solving the problem.

This Non Linear Equations Exercise is an example precalculus test from Cengage marked as a "hard question". If I Google the problem, I can see five identical answers, some free and some Cheggs/paid solutions. This Red Bull Fall Modelling Exercise Assignment is another example of a system control engineering assignment about red bull falls world record modelling with differential equations. Still the same, I search on Google and I find Felix Baumgartner Jump Model SOLVED.

Now, due to isolation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, lazy student behaviour has increased, as students now have internet access to solve their homework/tests, and can do so without knowing anything about the subject.

How are professionals/ethical teachers fighting this?

I am a tutor but I am also a continuously learning student for developing my career and I know that if others do the work for me I am not learning anything! As I said it is more easy to copy and paste the problems than solving.

  • Best of luck in your campaign. Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 14:23
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    It doesn't even matter if a teacher creates their own assignment; given some time, its answer will soon be on the internet.
    – JRN
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 14:48
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    If you search our archives, you will find much discussion about how to handle homework and (especially) at-home exams in the age of Chegg. For example: Should I prepare new homework exercises each year, 20% of the final grade is homework?
    – cag51
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 18:24
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    I worked very hard developing original and specialized homework for students for many years. The thanks? I recently found questions (without even a minimal effort at disguising the origin) at "buy-a-solution" websites. So, what's the point in spending all that time developing original and interesting questions? The 20% students that profit from that will be competing with the 35% of students who buy solutions. I moved to exam-style assessments with a number of tricks. The questions are less original, far less effective in helping to learn, but at least I can get proper marks. shrug Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 23:16
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    thk u for be a good professional if i were a decan or director of an institution i will choose you. i understand your concerns about the marks but what about the industry market? the jobs positions? those graduates can't get jobs because dont know anything and is really embarrasing for an institution. a student cheater will don't go very far. the real competition is the job market and the "show skills".[thkU 4 the mods and @GoodDeeds for show me the way and sorry for my 1st Question I am been struggling with teachers about my copy-paste hw/test but they are more lazy and unprofessional than me Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 21:02

1 Answer 1


While I sympathize with your concerns, let me give some background, and possibly a solution.

First, a good student exercise that leads to insight is an extremely valuable thing. Text book authors often will vet their exercises with real students to assure that they lead the faithful student to the right conclusions, and preferably to insight. In some of my books, I've asked teachers to avoid posting solutions because they harm future students who would find and use them. In some ways, the exercise set is the most valuable part of a textbook.

Second, too few, I fear, teachers fail to communicate that the purpose of a student exercise is not to have the answer, but to exercise the students mind. Most teachers can solve all of the exercises in their books quite nicely. There have been a few exceptions where research problems are snuck in to an exercise set (Don Knuth) but that is rare.

Third, some students want grades and prefer that over an education. I'm afraid that has always been true and will continue to be. But, they are wasting their time if they wind up incompetent when it matters. Some, of course, just fear failure but that is a different problem that does have pedagogical solutions.

If you are a student, then you want to understand the purpose of an exercise and to understand that seeing and copying a solution isn't learning. It is unlikely to bring you deep insight.

As a tutor, you can attack the problem, somewhat at least, by letting students know the above and that solutions are not the goal. Learning is. If students come to you for help, don't give them solutions. Figure out where the block is, perhaps a misconception, and give them a hint that will help them get past the block. A minimal hint.

But, yes, professors sometimes cut corners that shouldn't be cut. They have a lot of responsibilities beyond teaching. That doesn't make it right, of course, but as a tutor, you can still work around the deficiency if you give the students the right message about how to learn. That is an extremely valuable lesson for them. The serious students, at least, may well learn it.

  • hey thk u for your ans. why my question was not well receive. do you know what i have to edit? but i am a online tutor they pay me for the covers his defficient lessons. since some years i dont understand what is the role of teachers(especially in U). i discuss this with proffesors because i believe more in self learning. I am agree with solutions books, solutionary, hints and help in the learning progress. my problem is why the grades test/homework has to be a copy paste answer? Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 16:49
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    If you had treated this site a bit more formally you might not have drawn so many downvotes. This isn't intended to be like a chat stream. Also, your post is a bit rant-like. Another down vote magnet. I can't guess the reason for my down vote here.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 17:32
  • But I have seen that you care too much about plagiarism/ethics the best questions is about of professionalism. And t didnt I want to be rant, I just wanted to show the information of what was happening. and how are teachers improving to avoid that? Someday I'll be a teacher and well, I wouldn't want to have this copy paste students, neither teachers. i will edit some picky stuff Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 17:42
  • Among the things I told students on the first day of classes is this: "Usually, if I assign a homework question, I already know the answer. I have messed up in the past, but not very often. The purpose of homework is for you to practice what you've learned and then to show me that you have learned it. The purpose is not to give me an answer. I already know what the answer is. What that means to you is that cut and paste homework will not do and might get you an academic misconduct penalty which would be a bad thing."
    – Bob Brown
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 6:23
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    @DanielHatton, ideally, the homework "grades" are just a stick to help assure it gets done. The feedback you give them is essential. But that hasn't been discussed in this question. Reinforcement with feedback are essential to learning.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 11:00

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