I mentor online (in assembly language and computer architecture) at codementor.io. The way I work is to have a zoom meeting with a student to instruct them on what they are confused or stuck on.
More and more, due to changes in the way course work is being carried on during the epidemic, I'm having new students as me for help with take home exams. Of course, I won't do that if I know it is happening.
Many of these such requests directly and blatantly ask for help with an exam; however some students appear to have lied that they are doing practice exams or have homework assignment they need some help with when it really was a take home exam.
Here's what I do when I encounter a new student asking for help.
- For some, I look for urgency for a very specific time they want me be available
- With some I feel I need to ask them directly if this is an exam or practice
- I generally ask what the time frame is
I get concerned if the time frame is either immediate or very specific time (say tomorrow) and/or there are multiple question that are somewhat randomly related and it is not obviously a practice exam.
But with the latest changes, moving to home and online study, more and more I'm seeing exams being given as take home and with a two or so day time period, so my approaches to detecting situations that I don't want to be in are not working as well as I'd like, and, I'm being approached more often.
It's a tough situation and I do sympathize with students because at least right now with sudden changes there is some chaos; many are not getting the instruction they need and help from faculty, and for the moment, increasingly so because of the pandemic.
Further, instructors — who are suddenly shifting from in-class exams to take home exams — are probably not versed in best practices against cheating.
My question is, does anyone have any advice on the subject, e.g. on how to help honest students (e.g. practice exams, theory, etc..) while avoiding cheating on exams?