Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Caught Cheating? Take an Academic Integrity Class

Students at the University of Arizona can now take an academic integrity eight-hour workshop if they are at risk of failing a class due to cheating or plagiarism (UA Plagiarism Workshop Gives Offenders Second Chance, Arizona Daily Star, October 10, 2010). One hundred students will attend sessions this semester to provide practice on paraphrasing and summarizing and discuss the importance of academic integrity. Since 1999, reported cases of plagiarism at the university have risen 700 percent.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you think you could benefit from a class that explains how to prevent plagiarism and cheating? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think most students who cheat or plagiarize will return to doing so after taking this class? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think most students don't know how to summarize or paraphrase information correctly because no one taught them?
  4. Do your college professors provide instruction on how to cite sources correctly? Or do professors think that students should know how to prevent plagiarism by the time they enter college?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Students Who Cheat May Display Mental Illness Tendencies

Students who engage in cheating behaviors also score high in psychopathy or traits such as "erratic behaviour, manipulation, callousness and anti-social tendencies." Researchers from the University of British Columbia reported their research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology summarized in the September 12, 2010 Globe and Mail Canadian newspaper ("Cheaters Do Prosper – But Are They Psychologically Ill?," September 12, 2010). These students are more "impulsive," driven by competition, and are not affected by possible retribution for their academic misdeeds.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do professors encourage competition among students? Do you think a competitive atmosphere encourages students to cheat? Why or why not?
2. Do you think students can be taught to be academically honest once they reach college? Why or why not?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Colleges Aim to Cut Cheating by Outwitting Students

Taking anti-cheating measures very seriously, several universities implemented high and low tech improvements to thwart students attempting to get an unfair advantage on assignments and tests ("To Stop Cheats, Colleges Learn Their Trickery"- The New York Times July 5, 2010). The University of Central Florida's testing center recessed their computer monitors to prevent photography of test questions on the screen and uses cameras to monitor student activities. Turnitin.com reports that students try various tricks to outwit the plagiarism identification tool, but schemes such as substituting foreign letters similar to English letters don't work. The story notes that academic integrity tutorials do seem to help cut plagiarism, since they help students understand the acceptable use and citation of information.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you think campuses should use cameras to monitor testing centers? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think the high tech measures some colleges use to prevent cheating are worth the cost? Why or why not?
  3. Should professors only assign papers to be completed in class to prevent plagiarism? Why or why not?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Push to Publish Spurs Fabricated Research in China

Because the status and pay of Chinese scholars is based on the amount of published research, unethical practices have been exposed by Western experts. (Rampant Cheating Could Degrade China's Research Ambitions - Austin American-Statesman from Associated Press, April 20, 2010). But plagiarism, faked research, and related misdeeds are not considered to be serious problems by all Chinese academics. Lu Keqian, a former teacher freely admits that he receives $45 to write papers, saying that "great leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping needed help writing." Some 70 papers from Jinggangshan University were found to be "fabricated" by a British journal in December.

Discussion Questions:
  1. If there is rampant academic misconduct, do you think the results of all research studies conducted in China should be reviewed?
  2. Why do you think the writer mentioned in the article thinks that writing for others isn't wrong?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cheating Reports at Stanford Increase Dramatically

Even though Stanford University is one of the few colleges in the U.S. that has an honor code where students pledge to be academically honest, the campus is seeing a surge in cheating cases ("Stanford Finds Cheating — Especially among Computer Science Students — on the Rise" - San Jose Mercury News, February 7, 2010). "Although computer science students represent 6.5 percent of Stanford's student body, last year those students accounted for 23 percent of the university's honor code violators." A combination of increased reporting and a rise in dishonest acts fueled the spike among undergraduates. Many of the computer science cases involved homework assignments that employed unauthorized collaboration or altering another student's code. Beyond the computer science department, most of Stanford honor code infractions centered on unsanctioned group work.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you find it surprising that Stanford students, who should be very intellectually capable since they were accepted into a prestigious school, are committing these dishonest acts? Why or why not?
  2. Should collaboration be allowed in all assignments but not on tests? Why or why not?