A problem set is a teaching tool used by many universities. Most courses in
physics, math, engineering, chemistry, and computer sciencewill give problem sets on a regular basis. [cite book
last = Curzan
first = Anne
coauthors = Lisa Damour
title = First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student's Guide to Teaching
University of Michigan Press
date = 2006
pages = 65-66
isbn = 0472031880] They can also appear in other subjects, such as
It is essentially a list of several mildly difficult problems or exercises based on material already taught, which the student is expected to solve with a full written solution. There is no further research involved, and the goal is to learn and become familiar with the material and solving typical problems. [http://rabi.phys.virginia.edu/105/2006/policy.html Course Policy for a physics course at the University of Virginia] ] [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~ajw/ph12b/ Caltech quantum mechanics course page] ] They are usually issued once every week or two weeks, and due one or two weeks later. They are usually given a low weight, between 10% and 25% of the total mark of the course for all problem sets put together, and sometimes will count for nothing if the student receives a better grade on the exam.
Many students work in groups to solve them and help get a better understanding of the material, but most professors require each student to hand in their own individual problem set. Some professors explicitly encourage collaboration, [http://healy.econ.ohio-state.edu/syllabi/0708_808.pdf Ohio State University economics syllabus] ] some allow it, and some explicitly disallow it or consider it cheating. Most, however, do not, because they see the goal as primarily pedagogical.cite web | title = Ryerson student cheered at expulsion hearing | url = http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080311.wfacebook_cheating0311/BNStory/PersonalTech | author = James Bradshaw | publisher =
The Globe and Mail| date = March 12, 2008 | accessdate = June 10 | accessyear = 2008] This is to be distinguished from larger, more important assignments, for which students are still expected to work independently.
Collaboration on problem sets has caused controversy, including a media storm around a student of
Ryerson University, Chris Avenir, who started a forum on the social networking site Toronto Star| date = March 6, 2008 | accessdate = June 10 | accessyear = 2008] Despite passing the class, the professor failed him for his actions and he was recommended for expulsion, though the university faculty appeal committee overturned the recommended penalty, and gave him a zero grade for the assignments that were done through the course of the semester. [cite web | title = T.O. student won't be expelled over Facebook group | url = http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080318/ryerson_expulsion_decision_080318?s_name=&no_ads= | publisher = CTV| date = March 18, 2008 | accessdate = June 10 | accessyear = 2008]
* [http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/1CF110AF-4FD6-4CAD-99E5-E614CC1404DD/0/ps1.pdf An example of a typical problem set] , from MIT's relativity (physics) class
*: [http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-033Fall-2006/Assignments/index.htm A list of all of the problem sets from that class] , on
MIT OpenCourseWare. In this case they are collectively worth 20% of the total mark.
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