The grading scheme of almost all of the mathematics courses in my university is such that a substantial amount (e.g., $ \geq 20 \ \text{percent}$) of a student's grade is based on homework assignments.

In most upper-level mathematics courses, the grade is based almost exclusively on homework (indeed, there are some courses in which the mark is based entirely on homework).

However, there is a clear problem with this: nowadays, any student can make a math.stackexchange account and receive an answer to any mathematical question at the undergraduate (and even graduate) level within hours at most and reproduce whatever answers he or she receives on his or her homework assignment. Thus, in principle, a student can pass the course, or even get an $A$, without understanding anything.

Of course, in theory, homework questions are frowned upon on the math.se website, but in practice, an answer is almost always given.

So, my question is,

Is there any solution to this problem besides relegating the role of homework in university-level mathematics? Has the existence of this website affected how instructors choose to allocate marks in mathematics courses?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Did you see matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6/… ? $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Apr 1 '17 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Personally, I'd like to see us establish course specific tests which you could pass to verify proficiency in various topics. If these tests were tough then you could demonstrate your excellence despite the lack of quality at your school. The Math Subject GRE has some merit in this regard, my student who made 93 percentile has the attention of many graduate programs. A 4.0 in all the classes at my institution alone = yawn by grad. programs. $\endgroup$ Apr 2 '17 at 15:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How do we know that you aren't a math education student trying to sucker us into doing your homework for you? $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    May 31 '17 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrew You don't. But then, you could say that for every math.se user. $\endgroup$ May 31 '17 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ I base the HW grade on HW quizzes, in which I pose a few HW problems that students must complete independently. So regardless of where students get their solutions, they have to ensure that they learn the content, which is what I'm after. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    May 31 '17 at 11:59

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