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?