WeBWorK 1.9 studentID's were required to exist and to be unique.
In WeBWorK 2.x studentID's are not required to exist and are not
required to be unique. As far as the WeBWorK database is concerned the
studentID is just a piece of data and not a primary key.
From the point of view of using WeBWorK, would it be a good idea to
require that student ID's be unique? It would still not be a primary
key, but it would not be hard to insure that no two entries in a course
database have the same studentID.
Disadvantage 1: You would have to give practice users, teachers, TAs,
observers and anyone else who is not really a student in the course a
fake "studentID". You'd need to make sure that this didn't bump out
some student's legitimate ID. This is what was done in WeBWorK 1.9.
While it was occasionally annoying, it was never more than that.
Disadvantage 2: If you enter a student with a bad login name (and catch
it soon enough) you can simply enter the student with the correct login
name and then erase the old entry. The fact that temporarily two
entries have the same studentID is not currently a problem. If
studentID's are unique, then you would first have to give the original
entry a bogus ID before entering the new correct entry.
--This disadvantage could be overcome with adding a function that
changes a students login name. (Since the login name is a primary key,
this effectively means copying the old record to a new record with the
new key and then deleting the original record. If we are guaranteed to
be dealing with an SQL database, then we can assume that the database
knows how to do this internally. The GDBM database system did not.)
Advantage 1: In the case of real students it is nearly always a mistake
to have the same studentID, so requiring unique studentID's helps to
discover errors. -- Can anyone think of a case where they would like to
have a single student have to WeBWorK accounts in a single course? If
so unique ID's would require that one of the student's accounts have a
Can anyone think of other advantages or disadvantages to requiring unique student ID's in WeBWorK?
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