Friday, July 22, 2011
Plagiarism and the College Classroom
Cheating is rampant and not just in the college classroom.
Recent scandals include the Atlanta school district where hundreds (yes, hundreds) of teachers and administrators, NOT STUDENTS, changed answers on state wide tests in order for the district to look good (meaning get more money) on standardized tests.
You can blame "No Child Left Behind," for pushing up standards, but my response to those teachers who say the standardized test drove them to it: Didn't you always give tests in your classes? Of course, you did.
But I digress . . .
Great Neck, New York high school students paid to have their SAT tests taken by others with fake IDs and handwriting samples - tests that cost high schoolers $1 a point, meaning some paid more than $2000 for a good SAT score.
David Wangaard and Jason Stephens in the Winter 2011 edition of Excellence and Ethics posted the results of a three-year study of academic motivation and integrity. The two researchers "surveyed over 3,600 students from six economically and ethnically diverse high schools in the northeastern United States and found ninety-five percent of these students reported engaging in at least one form of academic cheating during the past academic year. More troubling still, 57% of these students also agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, 'It is morally wrong to cheat.'"
Panagiotis Ipeirotis, a professor at NYU recently blogged about his experience with plagiarism in the college classroom "and described how crusading against cheating poisoned the class environment and therefore dragged down his teaching evaluations. They fell to a below-average range of 5.3 out of 7.0, when he used to score in the realm of 6.0 to 6.5." Mr. Ipeirotis “paid a significant financial penalty for ‘doing the right thing'."
So what did the professor do?
“'Forget about cheating detection,' [Prof. Ipeirotis] said in an interview. 'It is a losing battle.'”
What lesson can we take away from these scandals? Students know it's wrong to cheat, while professors, administrators and teachers don't want to be financially impacted by enforcing rules against plagiarism.
But what do students want?
That's what Wangaard and Stephens asked some of the students they surveyed and the number one response was: "Schools should create and enforce stricter consequences for dishonesty."
How would you control cheating in the academic setting and what do you think the consequences should be?