Why I will never pursue cheating again The Post has been taking down. Bonus: stapling your homework is so yesterday …
Interesting, a very good read. Gives me an insight on how teachers/profs check work for cheating and what they do about it. And that turnitin is really interesting, seems really handy for checking plagiarisms, but sometimes, like they say, just don’t be overkill.
You can be strict about it, but just not overkill. You can cheat, just don’t overkill. Whatever, that kid who made and excuse and did the same stupid thing, I agree that he should get suspended not only for cheating but also for his stupidity.
Very interesting article. The technology for detecting cheating was interesting itself, but what I found most interesting was your ideas on *how* you teach and how you can modify your teaching process to engage your students.
I think there may be some study and research here for some doctorate student on methods of teaching that produce better results; both in making cheating less of a reward and for shifting the pressure-focus away from a teaching process that encourages cheating in the first place.
Lets face it. A person must be very focused and interested in a topic to really want to get deep into the material. How many twenty year olds do you know that have that kind of focus, even for something they are interested in?
Most North American education systems (US and Canada) are focused on regurgitation. They are much less interested in channeling their students into actually absorbing the material and encouraging problem solving, at least on an institutional level (and I include grade school to university in that statement).
Too be simplistic about it, I think you are just doing the job you are supposed to be doing… however in a system where many teachers don’t do so well or even have the focus to get deep into the art of teaching, your views and solutions shine bright.
I think the best solution is to evaluate the students every day.
How that can be done? Khan Academy offers a good way:
I was a TA while in undergrad and grad and I caught a number of students cheating. I wasn’t even looking for it, but sometimes it was just too obvious. I didn’t compare to previous years, I just found people copying off other people in the same class. They would change font or 1 of them would print in landscape format. Then other times, someone would turn in something that was completely out of their talent level (a level only 1 or 2 in the class would demonstrate). At one point during a test, a student finished quickly and told me that the student next to him was trying to copy. I watched the student the rest of the test and after the test, asked the person next to him about it. He also said he was copying.
I reported all these incidents to the Professor and only in 1 of the cases was anything done. The professor gave them a ZERO on the assignment and a warning. All the other cases were basically ignored. It’s apparently a lot of paperwork and requires a lot of time to do anything else.
When I used to turn assignments in I felt awful when turnitin.com showed it as 15-20% plagarized and that was after I took into account that the plagarized parts were marked, in my initial essay, with superscripts that linked the quotes to to bibliography. I would spend hours, literally, after I finished my final draft of an essay reworking it so that no paragraph included more than one quote from my sources.
I probably wouldn’t have dropped out of college and went to trade school had I known that I didn’t have to try as hard as I did. Or even if I had known why my assignments took three or four times longer than everyone else’s seemed to.
A very interesting and well-written overview of a process that too few instructors know about, discuss, or pursue. Nice job sharing.
… But I take issue with the “overall experience” section above. I’m an instructor who pursues cases of plagiarism firmly, and I have good relationships with at least a handful of those students whom I’ve “caught.” If cases are approached as learning experiences instead of witch-hunts with heavy threats, I expect you’d have more productive interactions with students and better evaluations. With all due respect, I think you fail to see this approach to plagiarism as the problem, and instead choose to point a finger at the system. Case in point: Each semester I submit academic misconduct reports on 5% a class, 10-15 students each semester, and I still get student evaluation marks in the 90th percentile. It’s possible to be firm, but also be helpful and supportive.
I also wonder whether public projects and peer reviewing would achieve the same instructional goals as original writing. I think most instructors would agree that most students’ writing skills are outrageously poor. Would we be doing a disservice by giving them less experience with independent, original composition? — just to protect them from themselves?
Suggestions on how you can maintain a positive relationship with your students and still pursue plagiarism:
TurnItIn allows you to have students submit multiple drafts of the same assignment and allows you to allow your student to see their originality reports. In this way, students can check to see if they’ve plagiarized and make appropriate changes before you’ve caught them. I explain to my students that part of my job is to teach them not to plagiarize, I’m not interested in doing a “gottcha”.
Be consistent with awarding zeros matter-of-factly. Word travels and your objectivity lets student know that you still “like them” even though you’ve caught them doing something wrong.
TurnItIn works and word gets around about that too. When they know they have to submit the assignment beforehand, it, too, acts as a deterrent.
Nice read. I really agrees with Prof.
There is a web archive of the original post at http://ifile.it/da4mpvj for anyone who never got a chance to read it.
The responses are very interesting and want to read the article but unfortunately article has taken down.
Any way next time…
As a college student who just graduated, this article was shocking and appalling. Any high school student, let alone college one, knows that plagiarism in any form is unacceptable and can result in not only a failing grade, but suspension or expulsion from university. To not pursue such obvious cases of cheating is an abdication of a professor’s duty and makes my degree seem less valuable.