All Posts Tagged With: "cheating"
How easy is it to hand in a paper you didn’t write?
I approached the shop on Yonge Street a little nervous, uncertain of what I’d find. Chain-smoking felons? Security dogs?
I found a clean store staffed by an intelligent, personable man named Mike. I told him I wanted a run-down. He said that master’s graduates write all the essays and they have a writer for each subject, from biology to philosophy. He showed me a database on his computer screen with at least 30 names. I asked how many customers he had and he showed me a weekly schedule that appeared to show more than 25 essays per week. The price was normally $30 per page but would only be $25 per page for me since there was a promotion that day and I was wiling to wait five days. Next-day service was still $35 per page.
Mike wouldn’t answer me about whether I would be cheating if I handed in the essay as my own.
“We don’t really have that conversation here,” he said. “It’s all original work; it’s not plagiarized.”
Victory for student groups
A majority of university presidents in the U.S. (55 per cent of them) say that plagiarism has increased in the past 10 years. Of those, 89 per cent blame the Internet, says a new study by Pew.
Many universities have fought back by using software like Turnitin, which forces students to upload their papers to be scanned against a database of published works, before their professors grade them. If passages appear to have been copied, the professor is informed and may investigate.
But profs at Dalhousie University learned this week that they no longer have access to the software, in part because papers were being stored on U.S. servers against the school’s wishes, Dwight Fischer, the school’s Chief Information Officer told the Toronto Star.
Is sharing notes cheating?
It was two o’clock in the morning on the night before her physiology mid-term when Jennifer Hidy turned on her laptop and saw what she calls “the blue screen of death.” A virus had killed her hard drive, erasing all of the carefully curated lecture notes that she was planning to read in the wee hours of the morning before her nine o’clock exam. She had visions of failure. She considered calling a friend. Then she remembered hearing about a new website called Notesolution.
Hidy headed to the school library, entered her University of Toronto email address into the site and—much to her relief—found that someone else had uploaded notes for her physiology classes. She printed them off and studied. A mere seven hours after recoiling from the blue screen, she sat down and aced her exam.
Did outing cheaters lead to poor evaluations, lower raise?
On advice from the school, a young computer scientist at New York University has taken down a controversial blog post entitled Why I will never pursue cheating again.
After Panagiotis Ipeirotis accused 20 per cent of students in one of his classes of plagiarism, he ended up with much lower student-teacher evaluation scores than ever before, he wrote in the now removed blog post. He had discovered the cheating using software and many of the students confessed when confronted. He was proud to have done the right thing.
Then the low scores from students were cited in a performance review as justification for his smallest-ever pay raise.
“Was it worth it? Absolutely not,” he wrote, referring to the confrontation with students. “Not only [have] I paid a significant financial penalty for ‘doing the right thing’… teaching became annoying and tiring.”
He told Inside Higher Ed in an e-mail that the point he was trying to make was that “as educators, we should be focusing on making cheating impossible. Not through enforcement but by designing evaluation schemes that are much less amenable to cheating.” He suggested that replacing assignments with in-class competitions could eliminate the need to police students.
Regarding the low pay increse, Ingo Walter, a business school dean, wrote the following. “Faculty evaluation is based on a detailed annual review of research, teaching and service to the department, the university and the profession. This includes possible class-feedback consequences in plagiarism or cheating cases in course evaluations. Moreover, the course evaluation input of any student who has an honor code infraction is removed from consideration when evaluating teaching performance.”
Scheme involved cell phones and a pinhole camera
Two men in Richmond, B.C. are charged with six offences each, including theft, after one helped the other to cheat on his Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) in January, according to CBC News. Police say that Josiah Miguel Ruben, who was at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, used a pinhole camera and a cell phone to transmit answers to co-conspirator Houmam Rezazadeh-Azar, who was writing the test in Victoria, B.C. and sending photos of the questions.
Police say that Ruben was getting the answers from three students who had been told they were taking a test for a job as an MCAT instructor. It was those students who became suspicious and alerted the police after they found it odd that they were presented with low-quality images of MCAT questions and one of them discovered online that MCATs were being held elsewhere that very minute. Cell phone records showed that Rezazadeh-Azar was in contact with Ruben the entire time.
Innovative people more capable of justifying their bad behaviour
Creative people are more likely to cheat because they can find “original ways to bypass moral rules,” according to a recent study from Harvard Business School. Francesca Gino, who teaches business administration, and is one of the study’s authors, says her research is “a first step in uncovering some of the potential dark consequences of being creative.” While creativity is beneficial for organizations, “we show that creativity also helps in the rationalization process. It allows people to come up with a lot of excuses and justifications for why their behaviour isn’t bad,” Gino says. The study was conducted using five experiments consisting of between 71 and 111 participants.
University Study claims some students cheat to look ‘good’
A new study from Ohio State University at Newark reveals that narcissism is linked to cheating. According to the researchers, narcissistic students will not only cheat their way to the top, they’ll also do it guilt-free.
The study, which appears online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, claims that narcissistic students see high academic achievement as a way to “Show off to others.”
Amy Brunell, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at the school, is quoted in the article as saying “Narcissists really want to be admired by others . . . They also tend to feel less guilt, so they don’t mind cheating their way to the top.”
What can universities do to fight this kind of cheating?
It’s no secret that cheating is rampant on university campuses, but a fascinating article in the Chronicle of Higher Education gives an indication of how deep the problem may go and how hard it may be to fight it.
The story is a first-person piece by a professional essay writer. Students pay him to write their assignments, they stick their own names on his work and hand it in.
What’s especially concerning about this kind of cheating is how difficult it is to expose. It’s one thing to detect plagiarism, especially in the age of Google, but it’s a whole other thing to discover who actually wrote an original assignment. Even if a professor has some suspicions, it’s next to impossible to prove whether the student who handed in an essay actually wrote it.
Now this article is from an American publication, but it would be foolish to think that this kind of cheating isn’t rampant in Canada. When I lived in residence, in my first year at Concordia, I was offered cash to write an essay for one of my neighbours. I didn’t take the offer but I know that another resident did and this wasn’t an isolated incident.
Academic dishonesty doesn’t just affect cheaters, it hurts us all. Honest students end up with the same degree, the same qualifications, as students who cheat. Cheaters devalue everyone’s degrees.
So what can universities do?
Well some of the blame probably does lie with professors and administrators. In his piece Ed Dante (a pseudonym) does a lot of finger pointing, mostly at universities and teachers for “failing” some students, who have no other choice but to use his services. He claims that many of his customers are international students, for whom English is a second language. This is pretty self-serving, as it is the students who decide to cheat rather than seek out the resources provided at their schools. But if this is true, it is concerning. When schools accept students whose first language isn’t the language of instruction, they need to ensure those students have the resources to succeed.
But as for the other customers of people like Dante, solutions are more difficult.
He says that students who are “hopelessly deficient” form another large part of his customer base. Students who are incapable of doing the work required of them in university probably shouldn’t be in university in the first place.
As for the last group of customers, lazy rich kids, there’s no blaming anyone else for their dishonesty. But fighting it is going to be difficult.
University of Central Florida students to take ethics seminar or flunk
The detective work of a university professor has uncovered the largest cheating scandal in the history of the University of Central Florida. Professor Richard Quinn discovered that 200 students–one third of his business course–cheated on a midterm, managing to secure the answers ahead of time. Professor Quinn says that he knows who all the cheaters are, and is urging students to come forward and confess (and take an ethics seminar) or possibly face expulsion. According to the video on ABC News, many of the students are seniors with only a month of school left. About 75 per cent of the students who cheated on the midterm have come forward so far. Whether they cheated or not, all 600 students will have to re-take the midterm.
…and your keyboard.
Instead of the traditional autobiographical sketch, all applicants to McMaster’s medical school must complete the computer-based ‘CASPer’ test, which is defined on their website as a 12 part assessment of “interpersonal skills and decision-making.”
But get this: unlike the autobiographical sketch, McMaster can actually tell if you had someone else write it for you.
When an applicant takes the test, their typing signatures are recorded. And if they make it to an interview, they might have to type short-answer responses for “signature comparison.” Apparently, a person’s typing signature is so unique that it can actually be used to sort out the cheaters from the non-cheaters.
Of course, even if they have to type the answers themselves, an applicant can still have someone stand behind them and help out with the test. But according to McMaster’s website, “Research has demonstrated that working in tandem with others does not improve average CASPer scores.”
-Photo courtesy of r3v || cls
UPDATED: Saskatoon public schools to eliminate consequences for academic dishonesty
In an educational climate where red pens are chucked for coming off as confrontational and teachers are encouraged to use “brainshowering” over the more violent-sounding “brainstorming,” the Saskatoon Public School Board has gone overboard by eliminating penalties for plagiarism and missed deadlines.
Under a new evaluation method for report cards, Saskatoon public high school students will no longer face penalties for handing assignments in late or trying to pass off someone else’s work as their own. The idea, according to the board, is to shift focus from behaviour to learning. “We’re trying to keep the emphasis on the learning, not on the penalty,” John Dewar, a superintendent with Saskatoon Public Schools told the National Post. And so, students caught plagiarizing may not be penalized with a poor grade, but will instead could be required to redo the assignment.
Besides the whole—you know—culture of tolerance for fraudulence thing, the program will undoubtedly create unnecessary extra work for teachers. Not only will they have to mark subsequent drafts after detecting plagiarized assignments, but they will likely also face an influx of last-minute submissions if penalties are removed for lateness. After all, why should students aim for the due date if they can hold off handing in their “Principles of Intellectual Property” essay until just before report cards?
A similar, misguided policy was introduced in Ontario in 1999 but has since been reversed under new policy guidelines released this year. Saskatoon, however, is going ahead with its no-reprimand plan. “I don’t give late marks, or deduct marks if students are late,” Katie Kehrig, a Saskatoon teacher who supports the policy told CBC News. “I don’t give bonus marks. I don’t have participation marks. Those are behaviours.”
And so, out the door goes the idea of holistic learning. Kehrig and the Saskatoon school board have essentially deemed behavioural growth, an integral part of a child’s development, simply irrelevant within the classroom context. Students, therefore, are being given the message that they can copy, steal, slack off and lie without any consequences. Granted, a plagiarized assignment may have to be rewritten—but that’s only if the student gets caught.
So, shall we peg our bets on Saskatoon as the next breeding ground for disciplined, honest workers? The city where individuals leave school well-versed in the implications of dishonesty and the discipline to adhere to deadlines?
There’s no tolerance for cheating or plagiarism in the real world, and examples are everywhere. In 1998 a scandal erupted when journalist Stephen Glass was discovered to have fabricated countless investigative features for The New Republic. In 2007, Rapper Timbaland was involved in a plagiarism scandal concerning the motifs and samples of his collaborative track “Do It,” and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper faced a plagiarism accusation in a 2003 speech he delivered about the US-led invasion of Iraq. In those cases, Glass was fired and disgraced (though he later got a law degree and wrote a novel—go figure), Timbaland’s reputation was tarnished because of the plagiarism controversy and the Tory campaigner who wrote Harper’s speech was compelled to resign in 2008. And yet, the only words of caution we’re giving Saskatoon high schoolers is ‘Whoopsies, try again?’
In any case, the buck will certainly stop for these students at the post-secondary level. While some university students still manage to get away with academic dishonesty, those caught cheating or plagiarizing are always subjected to some form of institutional slaughter. Whether it’s a failing mark, a spot on academic probation, or expulsion in some extreme cases, professors certainly will not shrug it off and ask a fraudster to try again. Many first-year students already struggle with academic integrity issues having never learned how to properly cite borrowed ideas; not exposing them to the consequences of plagiarism early will only exacerbate their difficulties.
The Saskatoon school board needs to realize it is ill-preparing its students for the real world. Cheating and missing deadlines simply won’t be tolerated, nevermind go without reprimand. So while the public school bubble may be romanticizing this latest win for ‘learning,’ its students, in the meantime, will be clipping posts off Wikipedia.
The University of Central Florida videotapes test-takers to combat cheating
Students of the University of Central Florida better be clever if they hope to fool the system and cheat on exams. The school — which the New York Times describes as “the frontier in the battle to defeat student cheating” — features a testing centre where students are videotaped while writing exams. If something suspicious is spotted, the camera zooms in on the student and a computer system records what part of the exam she is currently working on. (The exams are all taken on computers.)
If monitoring isn’t enough to creep out the civil libertarian in you, associate dean Taylor Ellis’ ominous pledge to track cheaters down may raise hairs on your arms: “I will never stop it completely, but I’ll find out about it,” he promises would-be fraudsters.
I believe him. Ellis has banned chewing gum during exams as it could cover up the sound of text messaging or other covert operations. All scrap paper is date-stamped and collected at the end of the exam. If you must wear a cap, it must be on backwards so you can’t hide notes under the brim. And the computers are recessed into desks to prevent students from secretly photographing the screens (although, admittedly, I have no idea how that would help).
In recent surveys, some 61 per cent of 14,000 American students asked admitted to cheating on tests or assignments, according to the New York Times. Yet Ellis claims there have only been 14 suspected cheaters of 64,000 exams taken at last semester at Central Florida, which says to me that he’s either incredibly successful or incredibly unsuccessful.
Like any particularly nasty virus, students adapt fast, and a plethora of websites to help students cheat and share homework are cropping up as fast as Turnitin.com can update its algorithms. On Course Hero, students can share notes, past exams and homework assignments. On Cramster science and engineering students can find solutions for homework assignments from 77 textbooks.
1,100 first-year psychology students to re-write midterm
The University of Windsor is probing allegations of cheating that could see 1,100 students being forced to re-write a midterm. The university will not confirm specifics, including what course the alleged cheating took place. However, the Windsor Star reported that the course is called Psychology as a Social Science, a first year class taught by a professor Kenneth Cramer.
The textbook used for the class came with a CD that included multiple choice questions. Evidently, the questions were distributed to students before the exam. Cramer sent an email to his students on Thursday informing them that the midterm will have to be re-written. “The University Academic Integrity Office is currently investigating this matter. As a result, the mid-term results (perhaps only the textbook questions) are deemed invalid and must be tested again in good time. I should have more information from the Integrity Office by early next week so we can find the best way to address this. I cannot have you review your mid-terms, since these are to be turned over to the Integrity Office,” he wrote.
According to the Star, a preliminary investigation revealed that “some students scored near perfect on the textbook questions, yet failed the lecture questions.” A student told the paper that the same textbook is used at the University of Calgary and that this may have been the source of the breach.
Students are caught unintentionally plagiarizing all the time. Learn how to stay safe
You’re writing a paper and you find yourself on the horns of a dilemma: if you make up facts that show the world as you think it ought to be, that’s fabrication and you’re guilty of academic misconduct. On the other hand, if you do your research and find the foremost expert on the subject and repeat whatever he says word-for-word, that’s plagiarism and it’s also academic misconduct.
Come on! It hardly seems fair!
Joking aside, plagiarism is easy to commit accidentally, it’s easy for professors to detect, and it can have serious repercussions. Ignorance is no defense against a charge of plagiarism; at this stage in your academic career, you are expected to know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
Plagiarism, in a nutshell, is when a student takes someone else’s idea or their way of expressing an idea and passes it off as their own. (This plagiarism stuff is making me nervous. I admit it: I paraphrased this definition from the University of Toronto’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.)
To make things extra weird and complicated, you can also plagiarize yourself if you take things from papers you’ve previously submitted without citing them, because all academic works are supposed to be original.
Why would students plagiarize themselves, or anyone else, for that matter? Most plagiarism is committed accidentally, or out of ignorance.
“Usually it’s because they are not aware of correct citation practices so they don’t include quotation marks, they don’t cite their sources correctly,” says University of Western Ontario ombudsperson Adrienne Clarke.
Citation practices vary from subject to subject and from university to university. There are several styles of citation you may be expected to use, such as the MLA system and the APA system. It is your responsibility to learn the expectations of your professor and your department, and to follow them. Most universities have websites on plagiarism and citation, and if you’re still not certain, ask your professor.
Even if you are aware of expectations, it’s still easy to make mistakes if you’re not careful. Clark gives a scenario of how an honest student could land up plagiarizing a source:
“A student is working on a paper. They have notes in front of them, with citations and page numbers on sticky notes. They are organizing them, putting them down, moving them around. They are taking information from different places and jotting down page numbers and references. And then when it comes to putting the final paper together, there has been some careless note taking, or they have put their stickies in a different order, and written down wrong page numbers or gotten sources confused, so that their final citation list is not correct.”
Alex Gillis, a journalism professor at Ryerson University, has also seen mistakes made by students with chaotic notes. “Get organized so that later you don’t inadvertently plagiarize by thinking ‘That’s a great sentence I wrote’ when it’s actually from the Village Voice or something.”
Yes, improper citation, committed with the best of intentions but without much attention to detail, is plagiarism, and could be considered academic misconduct. When you’re taking notes, it’s important to keep your sources straight so you don’t attribute the wrong source, or worse, mistake a quotation you jotted down as an original idea of your own.
Next: What’s another way students accidentally plagiarize?
If professors demand intellectual honesty from students, we must demand it of ourselves
McGill professor Barbara Sherwin admits she made a mistake in taking credit for a paper that was largely ghost written by another author who was, in turn, contracted by a drug company.
Well, no shit, Sherwin.
When undergraduates take credit for other people’s work at my university, they face stiff penalties, beginning with zero on their papers and ending with suspension from the university. And that’s typically for teenagers who have just learned what cheating is. For an established scholar, there is no excuse. Sherwin says that the scholarship itself was sound, but she knows full well that that’s beside the point. It’s like a student saying, “Yes, I copied the answers from another student’s test, but I copied the right answers!”
Like judges, professors must maintain a high standard of obvious honesty. Without it, we cannot, in good conscience, teach students to work with those same values. And though others have done worse, it’s not like this is the first time.
McGill has promised appropriate action. Let’s hope it’s at least a year-long suspension. That’s what we do for students who should know better.
Up to 80 per cent of high school, 75 per cent of university students admit to cheating
According to the Canwest News Service, one educational policy professor says cheating among students is reaching “epidemic” proportions.
Speaking at the annual American Psychological Association conference last Saturday in Toronto, Eric Anderman, professor of educational policy and leadership at Ohio State University said the problem is widespread and growing. He said some studies show that up to 80 per cent of high-achieving high school students and 75 per cent of college students admit to cheating.
Previous studies by the American Psychological Association show cheating is relatively infrequent in elementary school, but increases as students become teens and progress through high school.
The Chronicle of Higher Education takes us inside an essay mill.
The Chronicle of Higher Education takes us inside an essay mill.
New online service allows students to send doctored files to unsuspecting profs
What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever given a professor for missing a deadline? Maybe your computer crashed, or your e-mail didn’t send properly. Maybe you faked an illness or family emergency. Maybe you insisted your TA lost the paper.
Chances are high that your professor has heard it all before. And for most, telling the difference between who’s telling the truth and who isn’t is easier than most students might think.
“Undergraduates who lie about dead grandparents outnumber honest students by at least 10 to 1,” writes one professor on the ranting website RateYourStudents. “What’s especially distressing is how EASY they find it to lie, and how OBVIOUS their lies are.”
But a new online service is toeing that line a bit more closely.
At Corrupted-Files.com, students can buy a corrupted file — either Word, Excel or Powerpoint — for just US$3.95 a pop. The files come in a range of sizes, from 2, 5, 10, 30 or 40 pages, to suit any length of assignment, and can be downloaded from the company’s website. The student can then re-name the file (i.e. Karen_English101) and send it as an attachment to their prof. Custom files can be ordered for a price of US$8.95.
According to the site, “it will take your professor several hours if not days to notice your file is ‘unfortunately‘ corrupted. Use the time this website just bought you wisely and finish that paper!” Apparently, the files can’t be opened traced and reversed, and new files are uploaded periodically. “We take pride in our corruption!”
For its part, the website says the service isn’t plagiarism, which is defined by the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary as the “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”
But is it cheating? Because they’re buying themselves an extension, the site says that students will be getting an “unfair advantage” and says students should first ask their teacher for an extension before they use a corrupted file.
So, what do you think? Cheating or not?
Cheaters may not win, but they don’t necessarily lose either
This is a pick-up from RYS (one of my favorite sites) of a story from The Columbus Dispatch. This story is equal parts heartwarming tale of small town folks doing good for their kids and stomach churning example of what’s wrong with education today.
The short version is this. At a small town high school a good half the graduating class was either guilty of cheating on their final tests or else complicit in the widespread cheating. Some enterprising hacker managed to get a hold of the tests and they got passed around. Seems like there might be another interesting story in the background here (a lot of “hacking” just means that some administrator had a criminally stupid password) but this story isn’t about the theft. It’s about the decision on the part of the high school to cancel graduation. With so much of the class implicated in academic misconduct I guess it just seemed like the thing to do. I agree with the decision.
Apparently parents disagreed. So they held their own graduation. Everyone pulled together in that movie-of-the-week sort of way to show the kids just how special they are – cheaters and all. Except the hacker, that is. And really, as far as I’m concerned, he’s the only one who demonstrated any particular ability in the midst of this mess. But like I said that’s another story.
The real issue here (as the good folks at RYS surely appreciate) is that you can’t go around rewarding kids for cheating. Even those that didn’t cheat (and I admit, they got the roughest deal here) were treated to ringside tickets to exactly the last lesson they should be learning prior to any post-secondary adventures that may be in their futures. And that lesson is that cheaters may not win but they don’t really lose either. They may be embarrassed for a bit and have to endure some scolding, but at the end of the day things will work out and all will be forgiven.
I’ll spare you all my iteration of the consequences of academic misconduct at the university level but suffice it to say that the consequences are serious indeed. Students at Centerburg High School may be happy they had their special graduation after all but much like students everywhere they don’t necessarily realize what they most need to learn. One missed ceremony is the cheapest price I can imagine to drive home the seriousness of this issue. If that lesson could have saved even one student from dealing with this down the road that would have been worth it. But there you go. Parents may not appreciate what lessons their kids need to learn either.
Props to the administration at Centerburg High. It’s nice to know that someone is still taking a principled stand.
Repeat plagiarists and cheaters would get an “FD” grade, could lose their degree
The senate and board of governors of Simon Fraser University say they have approved “significant and extensive” changes to the school’s policies concerning dishonesty and student misconduct.
Included in the changes is a new mark – FD – which will indicate that a student was failed for reasons of academic dishonesty. This means that a plagiarized essay or serious case of cheating could follow students around throughout the rest of their academic careers.
“The FD grade will be available to department chairs who feel that a student’s behavior warrants a severe penalty, usually because they are repeat violators,” says Rob Gordon, director of the school’s criminology department. “A chair may also request the imposition of more severe penalties through the University Board on Student Discipline such as suspension and the rescinding of a degree.”
The changes were the result of a university-wide, three-year investigation by Simon Fraser’s senate committee on academic integrity in student learning and evaluation, otherwise known as SCAISLE. The committee was struck in fall 2005 after a series of incidents concerning academic dishonesty were identified, and the school commissioned a report.
That report found that 63 per cent of faculty and 41 per cent of teaching assistants and tutor markers surveyed at Simon Fraser had ignored suspected cases of cheating. This included cases of falsifying lab data, “recycling” of labs, fabrication of bibliographies, extensive plagiarism in papers, homework copying, illegal group work, and copying on exams.
Calling the policy “a zero-tolerance approach both in theory and in practice,” Gordon says the school aimed to create a fair, consistent and effective new policy on matter concerning academic integrity. “We believe the combination of policies, procedures and strategies we’ve come up with will do that.”
As of May 1, the new policy includes a “Code of Academic Integrity and Good Conduct,” which includes a summary of expectations for students around issues of academic honesty and personal behaviour. This includes prohibitions against hazing, bullying, disclosing confidential information and possessing guns on campus.
“We now have a single student code of conduct that covers both academic integrity and good-conduct issues,” says Gordon. “And we’ve created a reporting system with a central record keeping mechanism so we can better detect multiple offenders across campuses and departments.”