This year I had some particularly difficult issues of students caught cheating. The penalty for being convicted of a violation of academic integrity in our college is dismissal which as dean I am responsible for imposing. But this comic brings to mind the story from my NT colleague who allowed students to use Ehrman’s source book. A student went to the great lengths of typing up notes in 9 pt font, two columns with a gutter, and then glued them into the back of the book. He was discovered because he kept flipping to the back of the book, where no texts were to be found. My colleague kept the book. In my first 5 years I had the dubious distinction of averaging one student per semester caught cheating.
So, what is your best story of catching a student cheating?
4 thoughts on “Academic Intergrity”
I caught a lot of students plagiarizing in Lithuania. I had two things working in my favor. First, their English skills were very good but you could still tell you were reading something written by someone for whom English was a second language. When they suddenly began using articles (a, an, the) correctly, I knew to suspect cheating. Second, our library was not large, so most of the student had to look things up on line if they wanted to plagiarize. I can Google search as well as they can, so it was easy to find where they got their material.
My favorite was a student who quoted large chunks of Matthew Henry’s commentary. Someone from Eastern Europe does not write in the same way as Englishmen did in 1700, so the change in language was quite striking. I suddenly found myself reading phrases such as “The Jews thought that forgetting former favors was the forfeiture of future favors.” Most students don’t write that alliteratively, especially when writing in their non-native language.
All I can say is that TurnItIn is my new best friend. I used it this past semester and caught two folks.
Both of them were obvious for all the reason Kevin mentioned. I was suddenly reading perfect prose from folks who only a few sentences before couldn’t grasp the concept that a sentence needed at least one noun and one verb.
But, it’s much easier to flunk students when you’ve got a program that can tell you where they got that prose, who wrote it and when.
My first job was at a government research lab. The group where I was working subcontracted a big research project (having to do with nuclear power plant safety) to a consulting company. Once the final report came back, the lab typed all of the work back in again on the brand new word processing machines. As a new young engineer, I had been asked to do some follow on work and had to compare the documents of the consulting company with the final documents submitted to the nuclear regulatory commission. The only difference was the list of authors and a bit of formatting. The original author’s names and firm were all missing.
In the real world, the cheater gets promoted.
Something more academic: One of the lab managers employed a professor from one University of California campus to help him do his doctoral dissertation at another University of California campus. The end result was a cut & paste job that was a decade behind the state of the art. Being a manager who would never do research, he didn’t need a Ph.d. Still, the US government paid for all of this – along with the large raise once the degree was awarded.