Saturday, November 6, 2010

‘Academic fraud’ filtering hopes to crack down on plagiarism

There is much said about tech savvy students who plagarize term papers, etc. and there is a concentrated effort made to lessen academic fraud. I don't think students are given enough credit for the work they actually do. I know of very few students who think so little of their education that they are willing to pay the price (financial and/or ethically) for cheating.

What concerns me more at times, is the way information is presented. I have often stumbled across tests and assignments and powerpoint presentations that some high school teachers have claimed as their own work, that has clearly been lifted "word for word" from someone else's website. The "tech-savvy" student who finds these instances is really getting mixed signals from their instructors.

It is okay to "borrow" complete lesson plans from someone else without giving credit, but it is not okay for the student to go to the same site and "borrow" the answers. I think that teachers should consider what their expectations are of their students and make sure that they comply with those expectations as well. For example, my sister told me that her AP teacher stood in front of the class one day and when on about how he had chosen specific picture in a powerpoint presentation for some very profound reasons - implying how long he had worked on getting the presentation "just right". Yet that same afternoon, as she was looking for information on something else, she stumbled across the exact powerpoint, with everything identical except the author. That same site had her AP History packets - which are assigned weekly and consist of 8-12 pages each of three and four part questions posted, along with the answers. We wonder what the consequence would be if she simply copied those answers and turned them in as her own.

I think we all have to remember that we each have a moral and ethical responsibility to ourselves and to others, to give credit where credit is due. It is fine to expand on someone else's ideas, but we should never claim them as our own.