Monday, July 30, 2007

Too Stupid to Cheat

Last Thursday was my last summer class. There is supposed to be a class scheduled for Tuesday, but instead of an in-class exam, I gave my students a take-home final with the option of emailing me the exam as an attachment.

Convenient for everyone involved.


I was already looking forward to my whole month "off" without having to teach. Of course, there is the whole issue of grading the exams that I was avoiding. Now if the students just do what they need to do, the whole process could be nearly painless.

The first exam trickled into my in-box today and with it my dreams for a quick start to my abbreviated summer break quickly disappeared. The essays in the exam contain blatant plagiarism. Now there are sophisticated programs I can use to check for academic dishonesty, but this exam only required me to open the document to see the damning evidence.

MS Word has the annoying tendency to lift links and insert them into documents when you clip and paste from websites. In this case, however, it immediately flagged the irregularity and led me straight to the wikipedia page where from it was lifted.

Common people - if you are going to cheat, do a better job of covering your tracks! How can you submit an electronic document with the hyperlinks to the site still in it? That is laziness and ineptitude to the greatest degree!

Better yet, read the syllabus and know that cheating is NOT an option and it will result in a lot of problems for you:
Students are expected to read and understand ______ College’s academic integrity policy, which can be found in the ______ College Catalog. Members of the _____ College community are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavors. All the written assignments must reflect a student’s own work. If you use the material from other books, articles, and/or online sources, you must indicate it in footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citations. If you have questions about how to do this, let me know. Failure to make the distinction between your own thoughts and the insights of someone else constitutes plagiarism. Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be subject to the College’s disciplinary procedures.
Moreover it irritates me because now I need to become involved in a bureaucratic process when I was looking forward to my brief month off.

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