Around the Web: The Two Faces of Cheating

What does it mean when the teachers do the cheating on their students’ behalf? There has been a raft of scandals this year, in AtlantaL.A., and New York, in which public-school teachers altered test answers to raise their schools’ scores.

Things look similarly upside-down in the conflict of interest between TurnItIn and WriteCheck. Owned by the same company, TurnItIn is a service for faculty, in which students upload their papers to a database and faculty are alerted to any suspicious resemblances to other papers in the database. WriteCheck is a service for students, which tells them whether their paper will make it through plagiarism detection screens.

How can we promote academic integrity on all sides? Herman Berliner argues for a graduated response to cheating, in which first-time cheaters are punished much less severely than repeat offenders. But, he points out, for such a system to work, faculty must actually report each case of academic dishonesty that they encounter, something that many are currently reluctant to do. Dean Dad explains how suspicions of academic dishonesty work their way through the administrative system.

Faculty Focus offers several helpful posts: a list of do’s and don’ts, suggestions for how to communicate to students that academic dishonesty is not just something teachers inexplicably forbid, and an analysis of the two main approaches—basically, “don’t cheat” v. “be honest”—schools take to promote academic integrity.

An important step in promoting academic integrity is making sure that students understand how to engage meaningfully with others’ ideas in the first place. Barbara Fister offered a wonderful set of suggestions for teaching students how to approach sources as expressions of ideas rather than quote-repositories, which appeared around the same time that the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries project found that students are much less literate with search engines than we might expect.

This post was written by Odile Harter.

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