Monday, June 02, 2003

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article entitled Scholars Who Blog. There are links to nine sites (most are well known, unlike this site :-), plus two directories.

On one site, I find this gem, Copycats, including comments from many kindred spirits. It was strange to read this, nice to see it isn't just me, bordering on hilarious to see how flagrant it is, and horrible to see how common it is!

The plagiarism I have detected most closely resembles what is called, in the linked post, "The Filing Cabinet." This semester's episode is over, I think. I received a round of emails, the last asking me to telephone so we could clear up our "misunderstanding." When I didn't (I am not on campus and it was long distance!), the student went to the department to complain to the chair, and while there he was advised to put his concerns in writing, and then that handwritten note was mailed to me. He wasn't aiming high, a D- would have been satisfactory. I didn't budge, and at this point, I think there will not be an appeal.

I think it is a huge, and growing problem. This is anecdotal, of course. It may have been rampant years ago, too. Or maybe detecting it is so upsetting that it distorts our perceptions. I know sometimes it overwhelms what should be our focus: serious, honest students who are trying.

I've been giving some thought to what additional revisions to assignments I can make that will decrease the incidence. I already change assignments and topics; my remarks to class on the topic are so extensive sometimes I fear timid students will think I am an ogre. I have heard some faculty argue that teaching is based on trust, so they can't worry about it. That is an optimistic view; it is so appealing to me. But when headlines focus on journalists and business people who are corrupt, I can't help believing that academe should try to reduce the problem. It doesn't matter which came first, rampant cheating in school or unethical workers, that is a chicken-or-egg question. (And frankly, it seems to me that it is at least as likely it was school.)

I do know that it really, really troubles me. (So did the evaluation comment about there being nothing good about class :-(.

Time to work outside! The rain has stopped for a few days, at least.

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