Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Academic Dishonesty in Computer Coding Classes

Learning how to write code in a computer science class can be a ticket to a lucrative job, but professors are encountering students who turn in assignments with copied code from unauthorized sources ("As Computer Coding Classes Swell, So Does Cheating," The New York Times, March 3, 2017). Specialty software can catch copied code especially when students use substitutes for typical coding terms. One interesting idea at Harvard University was when a computer science professor added a “regret clause,” allowing those who confess to cheating "within 72 hours receive an unsatisfactory or failing grade on the assignment, and avoid further discipline — unless they do it again" and mentioned in an earlier blog post. Still some class members are unclear about how much consultation with other students, as encouraged by professors (and professional programmers), is acceptable. On one Harvard syllabus it states that "you may have your code viewed by others, but you may not view theirs."

Discussion Questions:
  1. What do you think about the "regret clause" where you can confess to cheating within a certain time to avoid harsh punishment?
  2. How can professors make it clear what's acceptable collaboration and what isn't? Should they include a list of what you may and may not do to avoid cheating? Or should punishable offenses be obvious to students once they reach college?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Paraphrase Tools May Not Be Detected by Anti-Plagiarism Programs

Anti-plagiarism tools like Turnitin.com cannot necessarily detect paraphrase tools that automatically generate alternative text for passages that users submit online ("Tools That May Discourage Quality Writing," Inside Higher Education, March 3, 2017). However, in testing some of these paraphrase tools, the quality of their wording is frequently nonsensical or too close to the original text to be of any use in a college paper.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you find paraphrasing from sources challenging? Why or why not?
  2. Would you use a paraphrase generator even if the quality of their output is poor? Why or why not?
  3. What's the best way you have found to paraphrase text?

Monday, February 6, 2017

University Chancellor Serial Plagiarist?

Despite voicing his innocence, Fernando Suarez, chancellor of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid was dismissed as the head of a national education commission in Spain due to claims that he plagiarized the work of his students and other historians during a ten-year time span ("Spanish University Head Accused of Copy-Paste Plagiarism," BBC News, December 16, 2016). Recently, Suarez informed students that the institution would start using Unplag, a plagiarism checker that promotes "standards of integrity, academic honesty, and independent thinking," according to his email. University students circulated nine petitions calling for his ouster.

Discussion Questions:
  1. If you were a student at King Juan Carlos University, does an accusation provide enough evidence to call for this chancellor to leave his position? Why or why not?
  2. If you were a student at this university, would you petition the chancellor to submit his work to Unplag to check for plagiarism? Why or why not?
  3. Should university officials be held to a higher standard of academic honesty or the same standard as students? Why or why not?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Should Rough Draft Plagiarism Be Sanctioned?

A former Harvard Law School student lost her case against the distinguished university when a judge said that even plagiarism in a rough draft counts as an academic dishonesty infraction ("Court Backs Harvard in Plagiarism Challenge," Inside Higher Ed, October 25, 2016). In the court's opinion, it is mentioned that there were at least 23 occurrences of plagiarized material in the student's law journal work that provided a review of a patent case. The student was able to graduate although her transcript included a plagiarism notice, which seemed to prompt one law firm to cancel a job offer.

Discussion Questions:
  1. If you submit rough drafts with plagiarized material, should you face an academic integrity penalty? Why or why not? 
  2. Should only work you submit for a grade be reviewed for plagiarism? Why or why not?
  3. Once you are in graduate school, should the rules for academic integrity be more strict than rules for undergraduates? Why or why not?
  4. How can this student build back her reputation if her law school transcript includes a plagiarism note on it?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Is an Academic Dishonesty Hotline a Good Idea?

Students at Purdue University can now anonymously call in academic misconduct starting this semester ("Purdue Initiates Academic Dishonesty Hotline," Purdue Exponent, August 30, 2016). According to the Associate Dean of Students, this new method for reporting is important to preserve the honor of the university and its degrees. The hotline idea emanated from the University Senate, in part, to "prevent cases rather than punish individuals" as the chairperson of that group mentioned.

Discussion Questions:
  1. If you witnessed academic dishonesty, would you be more likely to report it if there was a hotline that allows anonymity? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think your degree from a college or university would be viewed unfavorably if an academic dishonesty scandal occurred while you were a student, even if you weren't involved? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think it's the responsibility of all students and faculty to report academic dishonesty? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think an anonymous hotline can cause more problems than advantages? Why or why not?
  5. Do you think the hotline will "prevent cases rather than punish individuals" as the University Senate chairperson said? Why or why not?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Should Each Professor Decide Academic Dishonesty Consequences?

A faculty committee calls for standards in academic integrity penalties ("UNR Faculty Push for Consistent Cheating Penalties," Reno Gazette-Journal, April 27, 2016). The article mentioned that a recommendation from a campus group was to have faculty report cheating issues to "an online portal" and educate professors and students on academic integrity policies. The chair of the campus group mentioned that she believes some professors do not report cheating because it is seen as a problematic process and instead impose their own punishments that can be lenient while others are harsh.

Discussion Questions:
  1. The article mentions the importance of "catching students" when they first begin college classes to cut down on cheating. Do you think the article suggests that the college is mainly interested in punishing students to stop them from committing further academic dishonesty? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think professors should have the right to decide penalties for cheating in their classes? Or should professors be able to choose academic dishonesty penalties only from a range of options approved by a college or university? Why or why not?
  3. Do you believe that students need to be more informed on what actions are academically dishonest so they know how to avoid cheating and plagiarism? Why or why not?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Olympic Logo Plagiarism Issue Resolved

The newly redesigned Tokyo Summer Games logo was recently revealed to be quite different than the first version that was seen as plagiarizing a Belgian theater's logo ("Tokyo 2020 Unveils New Olympic Logo after Plagiarism Allegations," The Guardian (UK), April 25, 2016). The total revamp of the Olympic logo was done by a different designer after the creator of the theater's graphic commenced litigation to stop the use of the original Tokyo 2020 logo.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you think it was an accident that the two designers created a somewhat similar logo? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think it's easier to avoid plagiarism with words vs. plagiarism with images? Why or why not?