Thursday, May 10, 2007

National Cheating Scandals on the Rise

There have been a series of cheating scandals that have been making national news of late--Duke University Business School was in the NYTimes and Washington Post last week. Insidehighered.com writes about the implications of cheating in professional school today.

It is a depressing thought as I sit here grading exams. Have my students been using their cell phones to send answers to one another? How much did they copy on their take-home assignments?

The stigma against cheating seems to be evaporating. How can we explain it and how can we deal with it?

COLS has just subscribed to turnitin.com, so we will now be able to check written assignments against a national database. I suppose it will help, but was a sad use of scarce resources!

7 comments:

Chuck D said...

I'm curious... does the turnitin software present you with a copy of the paper that your student's paper was supposedly plagiarized from, or are you just to take the word of the program that somewhere out there, there is in fact a paper which shares enough material with this one to indicate a "match" ??

This is where the luddites club meets, right?

Anonymous said...

turnitin.com gives you a similarity index, which is the percent that is similar to other works. Then it shows the whole text, highlights the similarities and provides a link to where it thinks the material came from.

It does not make any assumptions about plagiarism. That is for the human looking at the similarities.

It supposedly continually searches the internet and keeps a record of every paper submitted, so that it will catch students who reuse someone elses assignment in the same class.

It is pretty neat technology!

Chuck D said...

Sounds like a way for professors to grade based on "not cheating" rather than based on a real evaluation of the paper.

I'm not convinced that this technology is as useful many make it seem but if the last post is accurate, it doesn't seem quite as dangerous as I assumed it might be, based on the way that a lot of other technology is designed and the mentality that goes with using it.

Bill Wresch said...

It is hard for me to understand and respond to the fear in the last post, so I won't try. I will say I have used Turnitin for several years and have found it helps a great deal. it tells me what parts of a paper are copied and what the source is.

Once I know a paper was really written by the student, I grade it as I have for the last 30 years.

Anonymous said...

So do you professors actually put whole papers into this system? I think that some students might be bothered by the fact that their work is being put out on the internet without their permission.

chuck d said...

Well, yes... and there is a court case dealing with that very issue right now. (Actually, it may have been decided by now...I'm behind the times.)

A group of students sued turnitin (and their school, I think) for copyright infringement.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/28/AR2007032802038.html

chuck d said...

Clickable link for news story.