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Cheating Via the Internet at College 467

Posted by kdawson
from the buddy-can-you-spare-an-answer? dept.
Electron Barrage writes, "An anonymous professor writes that last year about half of the seniors at his US university were suspected of cheating, mostly due to the Internet and community sites such as Wikipedia. He guesses that perhaps 25%-30% were actually guilty, a huge increase from earlier levels. According to this professor, it's nearly impossible for the universities to keep up with the new forms of cheating enabled by the Net. Will academic institutions learn to deal with this new reality? It sounds a little dubious from this professor's viewpoint." The article mentions the anti-cheating services Turn It In and iThenticate (while decrying their expense), but expresses worry over the new countermeasure represented by Student of Fortune.
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Cheating Via the Internet at College

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  • by creimer (824291) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:02AM (#16123556) Homepage
    A more common [yahoo.com] excuse as to what's really going on. BTW, I wrote this Slashdot comment. :P
    • After I finished reading the whole thing, it just felt like it was an advert for Student of Fortune.

      Hey, it looks good. I might take the bait :P
  • by drDugan (219551) * on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:03AM (#16123557) Homepage
    this discussion undermines the ridiculous and hypocritical nature of higher education - creating an institution where what they are really selling is reputation.

    as the "web 2.0" empowerment of individuals continues unchecked, people's reputation will come less from the judgement of university systems, but rather from people's actual connections and accomplishments.

    the idea of "cheating" will go away, because no one will care what some big, lumbering organization (the university) judges about what you've learned. people might actually be able to go learn what they want from free public resources instead of being trapped in painfully boring situations to get a degree - where they are so unmotivated they cut and paste text from web pages.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:14AM (#16123590)
      I would guess that a lot of people who go to college do want to learn... The few who are there just for a degree obviously don't enjoy their classes, then they bitch about school and the meritrocracy we've set up.

      Universities are a lot more than classes. There's research going on, and mentoring. Really gen ed courses and freshman classes (the ones some unmotivated person might take and cheat on) are probably the least important thing that happens at a university. Educated people deserve their titles and authority because they actually know what they're talking about. And if they aren't popular with the masses or don't have connections... so what? Majority rule is retarded rule (example: youtube, digg, myspace)
      • by V Radcliffe (993336) <ryunogekido@gmail.com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @05:19AM (#16123982)
        "I would guess that a lot of people who go to college do want to learn"

        Out of all the my college bound friends, I know no one who values their experience as a student as one that has taught them anything. In fact, I never once in high school was told to go to college because of its benefits in higher learning, but to increase my chance of getting a higher salary. And I know no one outside my inner circle who gathers together and collaborates on topics of intellectual interests, and many of those people don't go to college because "chasing the paper gets in the way of chasing the knowledge". We've tried to find as many people to join us in our discussions, but most are too concerned with their careers and are most likely to tout how stable/high their projected salaries will be than how they'll benefit mankind.

        However, some of my friends do value the chance times they get to speak candidly with professors about topics of study, and on the few occasions they get to collaborate with them. But in those few opportunities, those professors have commented on how no one cares about the context of their studies, only to pass their classes.

        So I have to say no, most college students don't want to learn, they want some sort of assurance that they can afford a house two cars, and a semi-rewarding/easy job. And personally I find that to be defeating to those of us who would like to work with institutions to further intellectual goals. Unfortunately it is the tuition of the sheep that pay for the research that gives a university it's name.

        I agree with the parent of this thread in that true intellectual collaboration is happening more virally out on the web. And that is perhaps for the best, because that can include more people who may not be able to join well known institutions in furthering research and goals of their interests.
        However, some of my friends do value to chance times they get to speak candidly with professors about topics of study, and on the few occasions they get to collaberate with them. But in those few opprotunites, those professors have commented on how no one cares about the context of their studies, only to pass their classes.

        So I have to say no, most college students don't want to learn, they want some sort of assuance that they can afford a house and two cars, and a rewarding/easy job. And personally I find that to be defeating to those of us who would like to work with institutions to further intellectual goals. Unfortantly is the tuition of the sheep that pay for the research that gives a University it's name.

        I agree with the parent of this thread in that true intellectual collaberation is happening more virually out on the web. And that is perhaps for the best, because that can include more people who may not be able to join well known institutions in furthering research and goals of their intrests.

         
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cychem1 (942136)
          I am now about 20+ years from college and I am currently in a position where I hire the current crop of college graduates. In my experience the internet has created a "fast food" mentality for knowledge. In my career, hiring the average to above average student has always been more beneficial than the candidate with the golden scroll (4.0 GPA, published papers etc.), inferring that the average to above average student really wanted to learn and for the most part has better people skills. I think the issue
        • by jridley (9305) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @10:18AM (#16124748)
          I went to college to learn, and I believe that I learned a lot. Many of them were unrelated to my direct field of study and I wouldn't have picked up unless forced, and I'm glad I was forced. I now find history fairly fascinating, and wouldn't have unless I was put into the classroom of a very good professor. Even in the field of programming, I learned to approach problems in a structured manner instead of just slashing at things until I had slapped together something that worked.

          At college it quickly became apparent that there were two classes of students. Those who were there because they loved the subject and learning, and those who were there because someone told them that they should go there and study this because then they'd earn a bunch of money. We in the former class got pretty irritated by those in the latter, because the latter were generally pretty clueless and not really serious. We really tried to NOT get paired up with them, but we did from time to time. And that's a good thing, because know what? When you get into a job situation, there are people there as well who don't actually like what they do, they're just there for the paycheck and aren't interested in doing more than the minimum. Luckily in the job I have now there are teams you can move to that are 100% filled with people who really love what they're doing.

          BTW when I say that the two classes of student became apparent, I think that was only to the people who were there because they loved the subject. I don't think that those who were just there to fatten their eventual paycheck realized that some of us really loved the subject, or if they did, they probably just thought we were freaks. Eventually a few of them may have figured out that we were the freaks that bailed their asses out on group projects every time while they wrote the documentation.
        • Pirsig's solution (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the narrator advocates doing away with grades and diplomas. Students can show up and do the work, or not, their choice. Do it that way and there's no reason for anyone to cheat. Those that don't do the work will get farther and farther behind, feel lost, finally get discouraged and quit. What happened? They flunked themselves out!

          Over the next few years, the school of hard knocks kicks in. If they're intelligent, they get bored at the mundane jobs they're stuck
      • by killjoe (766577) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:08AM (#16124086)
        I think learning can go on in the university but it's rare. Of all my teachers, of all my classes less then 2% were about learning something. The rest were mere memorization. I remember one pysics teacher who held open book tests, you could use anything you wanted, books, calculators, computers whatever. He could do that becuase he would ask questions that required thinking really hard and not memorization of formulas. I wish there were more teachers like him but alas that's not true.

        These days an undergraduate is lucky if he takes five classes from a real professor in four years. People cheat because they can. They can cheat because the teachers are lazy and ask stupid questions you can look up in a second.
        • by JonASterg (1003391) <jonasterg&gmail,com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @12:19PM (#16125175) Homepage
          Maybe you were in the wrong field of study. In all of my undergraduate major-specific courses, I always had a professor who loved teaching the subject, was passionate about doing related research, and was very knowledgable about the topic at hand. I never found cheating to be prevalent, simply because the answers to the problems did not exist (each professor usually made up the problems we were given). My undergraduate degree is in Aerospace Engineering, and almost all the homework and exams we received involved questions that simply could not be cheated on. I don't know how it would be easy to cheat on a homework involving the "prediction of viscous losses on overlapping rotor-blade interactions." Try finding more than a handful of relevant papers on the topic on Google.

          I think that the problem may stem from people's majors being over-generalized by the professors. I know that if people did cheat in my major, they ended up hurting themselves; it's not easy to understand problem-solving methods when you never spent the time to learn them.

          I am now in graduate school for Aerospace Engineering, and I find that cheating here is non-existant, if not impossible. How does one cheat on problems that the professor makes up during class, and expects to be solved by the next lecture? And cheating on a thesis? Good luck defending it.
      • by rlgoer (784913) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @09:05AM (#16124519) Homepage
        It's not quite a meritocracy. For example, standard test scores (SAT, ACT) are big predictors of whether you'll be admitted to a given college (though the more competitive the college the more other factors will enter in; high school GPAs are also important). But remember that test scores correlate moderately to strongly, depending on the study, with family income. The higher your test scores, in other words, the higher your family income is likely to be. Although some high scorers do indeed come from low-income families, their numbers are small, relatively speaking. It also turns out that scores on standardized tests factor into institutional rating systems (like US News's college rankings). And although colleges complain bitterly about these rating systems, their media relations, admissions, and other departments make heavy use of ratings for marketing purposes (if they can). This only intensifies the heavy competition for the high scorers, which as noted above tend to be wealthy. It's possible, if admissions officers are really picky and have a really large applicant pool, to try to make sure that high scoring kids aren't just high scoring because they are wealthy - i.e., because they don't have to work as much, don't need to worry generally about earthly matters, and who have parents who could nurture them and tote them around to all the right activities. But if you think about it, only a few institutions will really be able to afford to take a lot of poor kids, because, of course, the poor kids will need more financial help. And to give them financial help, you have (in essence) to take more money away from wealthy kids, who pay more. You also have to have (as noted) a big enough applicant pool to be able to find poor kids who will be able to cope academically, because (also as noted) high-scoring/well-prepared poor kids are relatively rare. This isn't sounding quite like a meritocracy to me, although you can't look at what's going on and say that poor kids are being excluded per se. The barriers they face are just much higher than the ones the wealthy kids face. When I think about this I become kind of sad sometimes, because I work in higher ed as a tech, and I like higher ed as a general environment (and have gotten a lot of pleasure out of being a part of it). But a lot of my educational experience actually came on the south side of Chicago, coaching a mix of kids in soccer and baseball and volunteering in the local public school - where I saw up close what happens to low-income kids. It's not fair, and it bothers me. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.
    • by jpardey (569633) <j_pardey.hotmail@com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:17AM (#16123599)
      All the Web 2.0 in the world won't invalidate a good teacher, and it won't remove the need for institutes of learning/research. I would not want all research to be done in R&D labs, where research is directed towards profit and patents. Although the university system has been heading away from the common good, it is still better than that.

      Yes, it would be wonderful if employees would look at more than our paper credentials, and learning was free. I just doubt that the internet would help much more than a proper academic system would.
    • Price (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phorm (591458) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:19AM (#16123603) Journal
      Indeed, tuition at the local college is about 2.5 to 3 times what I paid. Now that might not seem like a huge increase... but I've only been out since about 2002.

      A friend of mine took the same program, but was a few semesters behind, her tuition during the last semester was almost exactly double what I had been paying, not to mention the hundreds of dollars for overpriced books, parking pass fees, various other student fees, etc.

      Such a system ensures that the rich will continue to get richer, and the poor will get poorer. Is student X that went to school Y really smarter? A better worker? Or was it just that student A who went to school B couldn't afford that Ivy-League education. Was student X really a good learner in class, or could he afford to take the same class several times until he eventually passed. Nowadays, maybe the case is that student X could pay somebody to do the work for him, whether online or otherwise.

      Sorry, but today's post-secondary education system is a joke, with the institutions reaming students for every little dollar and cent they can. And for the record, the best damn prof I had was not some expensive PHD who spoke self-rightous gobbledekgook and looked down on the whole class (while being 20 years out-of-date and not really teaching anything relevant), he was a gentlemen with a good class mannerism, lots of current industry experience in the given field, and the ability to work with and communicate with students.

      The real question should be: Is this caused by an increase in cheating students (and the resources to do so), or is it caused by an industry that has become stagnant, boring, and oftimes irrelevant?

      I happen to love my field (IT). There were some courses that I loved. There were many courses that I wandered through (accounting, basic computing courses for the people that *didn't* like IT but wanted a job), and many that were irrelevant (outdated computing languages that almost nobody used... except for the college's sponsoring industries). There were also a lot of courses I wish I could have taken, but lacked the money. One of these days I'll probably have to go back to uni, and I greatly loath the concept of paying for dull, vaguely-related courses taught by barely-competent profs. I wouldn't download my answers or my essays - despite the boredom and irrelevance there is some sense of personal accomplishment to finishing useless courses - but I can definately see the motivation behind some that do.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kfg (145172) *
        . . .today's post-secondary education system is a joke. . .

        In the classical tragic sense. There's nothing to laugh about in it, but plenty to cry over.

        The real question should be: Is this caused by an increase in cheating students (and the resources to do so), or is it caused by an industry that has become stagnant, boring, and oftimes irrelevant?

        The real question should be: What the hell has tertiary higher education got to do with industry?

        KFG
      • College tuition does seem to be growing, but many should realize that a lot of college students are over 18, meaning they can vote.

        I think each individual State in America should consider providing free tuition to their residents, with restrictions of course. (For example, the student would not receive free tuition after taking a total of four years of college anywhere. Failed classes means that much less free tuition to provide an incentive to pass, even if barely.)

        I think a payroll tax, not to be confused
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540)

          I think a payroll tax, not to be confused with an income tax, would be the best way to pay for this. I figure since education in turn helps the economy (hopefully), this is justified for those working and plan on going to college and those who are the employers or coworkers of to-be-educated persons.

          Employers will benefit since increased supply of workforce drives down wages and allows for more outrageous employment contracts - non-compete agreements and such - as well as lets them abuse the employees m

          • Re:Price (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @05:50AM (#16124046)
            I happen to disagree. I believe it will benefit the people.

            1. Free tuition for residents (with some limitations and restrictions) would mean no more worries about the given amount one would have had to pay back not only for the principal borrowed to pay for tuition, but the interest too, concerning student loans.

            2. Just because the workforce is increased, doesn't mean everyone is going to be vying for the same job. Hopefully with making tuition free, it will give some/most students a chance to learn what they want without worrying about the cost.

            I figure some/most students take classes to ensure they're going to get a job to help pay off their student loans that paid for tuition. If paying for tuition isn't an obstacle anymore, students can more freely choose what they want without worrying about having a good-enough income to pay it back later.
            • by canuck57 (662392)

              1. Free tuition for residents (with some limitations and restrictions) would mean no more worries about the given amount one would have had to pay back not only for the principal borrowed to pay for tuition, but the interest too, concerning student loans.

              You are aware that is socialism?

              Here is what happens with socialism. The government ends up regulating it, not the market place. You can graduate as an engineer and get paid less than general labor building homes. So what happens is a lot of people gr

    • by Xemu (50595) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:41AM (#16123661) Homepage
      people's reputation will come less from the judgement of university systems, but rather from people's actual connections and accomplishments.

      If you haven't noticed, a large part of going to university is about connections. Dubya would not have become a member of Skull and Bones [skullandcrossbones.org] if he had been taking classes of "www.affordabledegrees.com" instead of going to Yale. Do you think Dubya has had most use of the classes he took or the club membership?

      It's all about connections. Nobody becomes great alone.
    • by kripkenstein (913150) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:50AM (#16123686) Homepage
      this discussion undermines the ridiculous and hypocritical nature of higher education - creating an institution where what they are really selling is reputation.

      No, no - you're going way too far here. Your point is valid, but not the main issue, at least as I see it.

      The issue is that handed-in work - i.e. papers, exercises, and so forth, written alone and submitted later on - have become easy to cheat with. This was always true, and always will be true, and yes, the internet does make this far easier. But this has always existed.

      The solution is very simple, and I am amazed that TFA didn't at least mention it. The solution is not to base grades on such handed-in work. Instead, base grades on performance that you can ensure is the student's own. Higher (and lower) education have a name for this: exams. Conduct an exam under carefully-controlled conditions, and no cheating is possible.

      Of course, this is also getting harder and harder; recently I have heard of a students going to the restroom and using their cellphones to IM questions&answers, things like that. But this can also be solved - have short enough exams so that going to the restroom isn't allowed. You may need to have several mini-exams during a semester; this is more work for the professor and his TAs, but seems the right thing to do to me.

      Higher (and maybe lower, as well) education needs to wake up to the newly-connected world we live in. Once not under supervision, a student can get help from any number of sources - friends, internet, whatever. Once we stop expecting to grade work they do in such uncontrolled circumstances, we are free to let them learn however they want, outside of the classroom. The professor teaches his class; later on, students are free to use wikipedia, group study, or whatever, to get more of a feel for the subject matter. Whatever and however they want. This wouldn't be cheating. (And, btw, if they choose wikipedia and it happens to contain false information, they will have learned a valuable lesson.) Then, when they take an exam under supervised conditions, the professor can ensure no cheating takes place, and their actual knowledge is tested.

      Note: It may be a challenge to adapt this principle to certain academic fields, in particular those most used to grading papers and not exams. I don't deny this may take effort on the professors' part. Change isn't always easy - but it is necessary.
      • by chazwurth (664949) <cdstuart@@@umich...edu> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @03:25AM (#16123756)
        The solution is very simple, and I am amazed that TFA didn't at least mention it. The solution is not to base grades on such handed-in work. Instead, base grades on performance that you can ensure is the student's own. Higher (and lower) education have a name for this: exams. Conduct an exam under carefully-controlled conditions, and no cheating is possible.

        As I mentioned in another thread, this doesn't make sense. The problem is that 'handed-in work' and exams don't actually serve the same purpose. Professors don't want students to write papers in order to demonstrate their knowledge; they want students to write papers because that format promotes original thought and the development of new ideas. You can't replace this function with exams.

        Note: It may be a challenge to adapt this principle to certain academic fields, in particular those most used to grading papers and not exams. I don't deny this may take effort on the professors' part. Change isn't always easy - but it is necessary.

        No, it isn't necessary in these fields. Just the opposite -- maintaining the status quo is necessary. Do you expect students to learn how to do serious research in an exam room? Do you expect them to learn how to conduct themselves in their fields -- that is, fields in which research and writing are the primary modes of academic activity -- by filling in scantrons?

        Your point might hold if the purpose of taking a class were to get a grade that fairly represents the work you did. But that's misguided. It's like saying that the purpose of getting on a highway is to go 70 miles per hour; therefore, we must make sure everyone goes 70 miles per hour even if they have to go in the wrong direction! It just doesn't make sense. The purpose of taking a class is to learn as much as possible about the subject being taught, including how the real work of that subject is conducted by professionals in the field. (After all, these classes are about training future experts and professionals, among other things.)

        Testing is often among the worst ways to do this. The notion that one learns more about, say, ancient Greek philosophy cramming for an exam than by researching and writing 25 pages on the influences of various presocratics on Platonic thought, is preposterous. The idea that, in a course on the practical use of statistics in the election process, one should test students rather than making them run their own polls, is misguided. Students learn by doing, and in most academic fields, doing means research and writing. Many college courses need fewer tests, not more.
        • by kripkenstein (913150) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @03:57AM (#16123824) Homepage
          As I mentioned in another thread, this doesn't make sense. The problem is that 'handed-in work' and exams don't actually serve the same purpose. Professors don't want students to write papers in order to demonstrate their knowledge; they want students to write papers because that format promotes original thought and the development of new ideas. You can't replace this function with exams.

          You make an excellent point here, I must admit. Perhaps my bias stems from the fact that I work in fields in which exams are the norm, and not papers.

          Still, I do want to argue a different position than yours. Now, I agree with you that exams do not test original thought, the development of new ideas, and research skills. However, I claim that the majority of papers do not do this much either. Many undergrad papers are basically 'book-report'-type things (albeit with several books and more difficult subject matter than grade school book reports). For this type of paper, an exam is a reasonable substitute (the only thing it might not test is long-term writing skills, i.e. editing and so forth, and not short-term writing skills).

          For papers of a higher level, that is those that do focus on original thought, I would say the following. First, cheating is less of a problem with such things; they appear mostly in graduate-level courses, with less students, and more direct professor-student interaction. So, perhaps you are right in this case, and papers could continue to be used as the grading technique. However, if cheating were still an issue, there is another option, apart from exams and papers, suitable for classes with few students: a grade based on class interaction and/or a one-on-one interview-type exam. I recall taking classes where part of the grade was determined in this way, it seemed surprisingly fair, actually.

          Students learn by doing, and in most academic fields, doing means research and writing. Many college courses need fewer tests, not more.

          Again, an excellent point, which you have mostly convinced me of. I would only add what I just said above, that class participation and interviews could also be used, not just papers. A paper accompanied by an interview seems like a particularly useful method; I would think that discussion of the research and thought process that went into the creation of a paper would do much against the possibility of cheating. Of course, this would make sense in small classes only, as I said above.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by chazwurth (664949)

            Now, I agree with you that exams do not test original thought, the development of new ideas, and research skills. However, I claim that the majority of papers do not do this much either. Many undergrad papers are basically 'book-report'-type things (albeit with several books and more difficult subject matter than grade school book reports). For this type of paper, an exam is a reasonable substitute (the only thing it might not test is long-term writing skills, i.e. editing and so forth, and not short-term w

      • by S3D (745318)

        The solution is very simple, and I am amazed that TFA didn't at least mention it. The solution is not to base grades on such handed-in work. Instead, base grades on performance that you can ensure is the student's own. Higher (and lower) education have a name for this: exams. Conduct an exam under carefully-controlled conditions, and no cheating is possible.

        And how exams are better than handed-in work ?
        The problem is that the existing education system put to much attention on just remebering or collect

      • by drsmithy (35869)
        The solution is very simple, and I am amazed that TFA didn't at least mention it. The solution is not to base grades on such handed-in work. Instead, base grades on performance that you can ensure is the student's own. Higher (and lower) education have a name for this: exams. Conduct an exam under carefully-controlled conditions, and no cheating is possible.

        The problem with exams is that the scenario they present is typically not representative of how the student will be expected to perform in "real life".

      • by Selanit (192811)

        The solution is very simple, and I am amazed that TFA didn't at least mention it. The solution is not to base grades on such handed-in work. Instead, base grades on performance that you can ensure is the student's own. Higher (and lower) education have a name for this: exams. Conduct an exam under carefully-controlled conditions, and no cheating is possible.

        Ahh, an exam fan. Sure, exams are considerably more resistant to cheating. But they're a LOUSY way to assess learning. Let's run down the types, shal

        • by k98sven (324383) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @09:01AM (#16124506) Journal
          Ahh, an exam cynic. A product of the US (or North American) higher educational system, no doubt. :)

          Patronizing remarks aside, what I'm saying is that I understand your position, but it's coming from a limited perspective. Go study in Europe a bit. I did. (Sweden)

          Yes. True/false and multiple-choice exams are worthless. Yet very common in the US, and perhaps only there.

          My experiences from Sweden were the following: First, exams are far more common, and far larger in size.
          Second, true/false exams are never ever used. I never had one and never heard of anyone else having one either.
          Third, multiple-choice exams exist, but seem to be quite rare. I only had one in four years, and that one was still augmented by two essay questions and the fact that they deducted points for wrong answers on the multiple-choice part. (The clear message being: Don't even think about guessing your way)

          I think there are two very simple reasons these tests are used so much in the US, and neither of them are because they're a good method. First is because they're established and part of the academic culture. That kind of stuff is hard to change. Students don't want tougher exams, and Profs don't want to appear harsher than the others. Second, the Professors are lazy. Why use a test that involves more work from them and will generate complaints from the students, when you can stick with the same-old and everyone's happy?

          So on to essay exams, which you've probably guessed would be the usual type, then. Your first criticism is that they're too short. Well again, there's a solution: Longer exams. Where I was studying the typical length was 4-6 hours. Bathroom breaks weren't a problem. The basic order was: Noone gets to leave during the first hour but latecomers can arrive in that period. After one hour, you're permitted to turn in your exam and leave if you want and bathroom breaks are permitted. Bathroom breaks are allowed one at a time, and the exam monitor keeps a log of which students leave and the time of their departure and return. They also log the seating arrangement and the time the exam was turned in. There are also voluntary 10-minute rest breaks where those who wish can leave with a second monitor. (who otherwise is outside, usually checking the bathrooms).

          I never saw that dicipline broken. Cheating did still occur of course, but the worst I ever saw was people stuffing a note in their pocket and checking it in the bathroom. And that's of course impossible to stop. But so is any dedicated cheat. And the amount of information you can inconspicuously fit in your pants is rather small.
          But anyway, point is the bathroom thing can be solved, and has been solved.

          Your second argument is even sillier. Bad handwriting? That never seemed to stop them over there. But if it's that bad you can simply require the answer to be written in block text. Or set the condition that illegible answers will not be graded. That should do it.

          You leave out what is, IMHO, the most superior form of testing though. Namely oral exams. (not necessarily the formal type) There is simply no better way to assess someone's knowledge and understanding than by talking to them, asking questions and follow-up questions to understand their thought process. And it is very much a real-world type of situation. The only drawback is that it's labor-intensive. I saw some creative solutions to that, though. One was to have a written examination to qualify for a passing grade, and an oral exam for higher grades. That filters 'em out quite well. I think that's because people won't take a chance on it unless they feel certain they've got at least some shot at it. First because it's harder to fake it. Second because people are a lot more reluctant to parade their ignorance in person-to-person communication than on a piece of paper. (Of course, some might simply be too nervous. But if you want to talk real-world, then they'll need to learn to deal with that sooner or later, and
    • by glwtta (532858) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:59AM (#16123698) Homepage
      I have to ask - have you actually been to a good university?

      They have their share of problems, but there is a reason people will continue paying the ridiculous amounts of money they cost - no amount of CSS and JavaScript can ever replace a solid, well-rounded education. I'm sure that in prepping you for that cool tech job it's a giant waste of time, that results in an arbitrarily valued piece of paper that has nothing to do with the on-the-job skills; but university isn't about that.
    • Plagiarism is usually a symptom of laziness, not boredom.
  • Whaaaa? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:06AM (#16123561) Homepage Journal
    Excuse me, but I *am* a professor and I fail to see what Wikipedia has to do with cheating.....

    • by creimer (824291)
      Cut and paste. It even happens to the big name Stanford professors like George Shultz [mercurynews.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BWJones (18351) *
        Any resource can be "cut and pasted". To lay any blame on Wikipedia, or any reference for this is absurd.

        • by droopycom (470921)
          Yeah, I tried to cut and paste from K&R once... I got caught, but I'm sure that with sharper scissors, better glue, and more expertise with the photocopier, It could have gone through without being detected....

    • Re:Whaaaa? (Score:5, Funny)

      by John Hurliman (152784) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:19AM (#16123605) Homepage
      Wikipedia represents the most notorious source of cheating since campus libraries!
      • by BWJones (18351) *
        People have been saying for years that those libraries were trouble. All that book learnin won't get you nuthin' but a worthless education. :-)

    • by Selanit (192811)
      I'm not a professor; but I am a poorly paid graduate student teaching composition at a large university. And Wikipedia is, in my experience, the most common source used by plagiarists.

      See, it used to be HARD to plagiarize papers. Plagiarizing required going to the library, doing research to find a good essay that would answer the assignment, and then copying it out (or typing it up) in order to turn it in. And if you were ready to put THAT much work into it, why not just write the thing yourself? So mos
  • I see no reason why he has to be anonymous, as I would think this is the kind of thing that should be made more public. I don't know how much credibility this actually deserves.

    In my personal experience with college, I would say less than 10% of the people regularly cheated (by which I mean copying assignments or programs from external sources or other students). Maybe 50% of the people I knew copied homeworks, and I only know of one person who ever cheated on an exam.

    A lot of cheating is in a gray area. Fo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mustafap (452510)
      >but the person who is hurt most by cheating is that student.

      Hum, I would say they are least hurt. They obviously have no interest in learning, so have lost nothing.

      IMHO, the people who loose out the most are the community at large ( i.e. the economy ) when an army of university educated but in-effective graduates get into the work place.

      Sites offering to do your course work for a few dollars don't help either. This is a society problem, not the fault of Wikipedia. Our children expect so much for so litt
      • by rm999 (775449)
        No, the people who lose out are the ones who don't learn anything in college. They go to interviews and are laughed away by their meager knowledge.
  • Will academic institutions learn to deal with this new reality? It sounds a little dubious from this professor's viewpoint.

    Perhaps it's time that the academic institutions came to terms with the information society that we live in, and reassessed their teaching methods. Technology is progressing; you can't rely on static schema for distributing information when the main modes for distributing that information are in such dramatic flux.
  • The Student of Fortune website you linked to is the exact reason why colleges and universities also pair tests alongside assignments. While you can cheat on assignments, it requires different cheating skills to skip through tests. It will raise some flags if you pass assignments with flying colours but consistantly fail tests.

    Even so, you cannot cheat on an actual work placement (or if you do, it probably doesn't count as cheating.) Sooner or later, cheaters that are incapable of performing in their fiel
  • Sounds About Right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:12AM (#16123582) Homepage Journal
    Sounds About Right

    When I TAed a CS class, we caught about a quarter of them turning in the same assignment, some with 0 byte diffs from the others, some with just renamed variables. I think about 8 of em got serious disciplinary actions taken.
    • by creimer (824291)
      I took one Java course where the instructor noticed something odd with the first assignment turned in by two students: the source code was exactly identical except one had the letter x and the other had the letter y for the main variable. The following week we had two fewer students in the class.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:13AM (#16123584) Homepage
    >"Get paid to answer questions! Use Student of Fortune as a source of extra cash. Answer questions from other users and earn a bounty."

    Attention impoverished college professors with a malicious sense of justice and an ability to write plausible looking bullshit! Now you too can earn $$$ while wrecking the lives of trust fund cheaters!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:13AM (#16123587)
    ...who realises that chances are, this "blog" is just an advertisement for TurnItIn or iThenticate, attributed to an anonymous professor so as to legitimise it when its true author submitted the ad to Slashdot?
    • Well, I think the anonymous professor's blog is a stealth promotion for Student of Fortune. Expressing indignation like that is a way to get us to go check out the site (which is clearly just getting started - I could Make Money Fast(er) with the Mechanical Turk...and may just be a prank anyway).

      There are an unacceptable number of spelling mistakes in the "professor"'s blog. Unless "s/he" was really tired!

      My most recent uni (in Australia - as of 2005) paid for the plagiarism check sites AND USED THEM and th
  • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:17AM (#16123597)
    I'm not saying that cheating is right; in fact I think it's wrong, but society needs to accept that professors "cheat" just as regularly as students. I can't tell you the number of times I saw diagrams, figures, and tables stripped from other literature or sources, included in Powerpoint presentations prepared by professors and delivered to the class. Talk about academic dishonesty - presenting information to your students that isn't yours and not citing the source is just as bad.

    Further, professors are enabling this by making assignments that people CAN cheat on. If professors would stop being so lazy by reusing exams, paper writing prompts, homework assignments, etc., and started using creativity and more in-class, blue-book style written-answer testing rather than relying on the old "ABCD, or E" Scantron multiple choice exam crutch, I think schools would see cheating levels drop, or see the cheaters fail out. While it's tough to do this when it comes to assigning a research paper, perhaps if the professor would think of a creative enough topic and assign a different topic each year, there wouldn't be such an opportunity for students to cheat. Just think, instead of writing a paper detailing the intricacies of the American Civil War in expository form, have students write the paper in narrative form as a merchant in Quebec observing the war from afar. Such an obscure paper would be easy for someone well-versed in the history presented in the class to write, but nearly impossible for someone to locate on a cheating site for duplication.

    The answer: professors need to stop being so damned lazy, and then perhaps their students will follow suit.
    • by chub_mackerel (911522) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @03:29AM (#16123764)
      I can't tell you the number of times I saw diagrams, figures, and tables stripped from other literature or sources, included in Powerpoint presentations prepared by professors and delivered to the class. Talk about academic dishonesty - presenting information to your students that isn't yours and not citing the source is just as bad.
      ...
      The answer: professors need to stop being so damned lazy, and then perhaps their students will follow suit.

      IAAP, for what that's worth.

      I may be wrong, but your post reads like a rationalization from a "guilty" student. Do you have any IDEA how much time it would take to put together a quality course, with nothing but original materials? Not to mention grading students' work? I mean REALLY grading it - paying attention to the individual foibles of each student and trying to treat them like distinct human beings and not just a row of numbers on a grade sheet?

      I hate to break it to you, but most of what you in lecture does not originate with your professor. Your prof is there to EXPLAIN it to you, not to CREATE it for you. When your professor publishes original work in their field (i.e. something similar to an assignment for which they get "professional" credit), you bet your ASS they would get in trouble for "borrowing" without citing sources. Their lectures and your assignments therefore belong in very different categories, as far as the standards applied.

      I usually tell my students, at the beginning of a course, that I will pull in materials from many different sources in order to create the course lectures and assignments and to give them the best educational experience possible. I explain what I expect from them in terms of academic integrity, and if I catch them cheating, they suffer the consequences. I put my heart and soul into teaching my courses, and when students turn in copied or plagiarized work, that is a slap in the face, especially considering all the effort that I put into the course.

      Yes, there are lazy teachers, and that DOES exacerbate the problem, but not in the way that you claim. Lazy teachers are actually much LESS likely to notice cheating. If students run into many teachers like this, and notice that cheating carries no consequences, they may start to feel that it's an under-the-table "accepted" practice, and just part of "the game." THAT is what really damages the credibility of professors, the academic institutions, and formalized learning in general.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bogjobber (880402)

      Just think, instead of writing a paper detailing the intricacies of the American Civil War in expository form, have students write the paper in narrative form as a merchant in Quebec observing the war from afar.

      Bad example. All you've done there is turn a history paper into a creative writing assignment. If you're in a history class, it might not be the best idea to be testing someone's ability to write from another's perspective. You should be testing their knowledge of what was covered in the class

  • by stuffman64 (208233) <stuffman.gmail@com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:20AM (#16123606) Homepage
    I remember a certain incident here at school in a class of my friend's. Apparently, after the professor started the exams, he would go back to his office and post the answer keys on the course website. Some kids found out, and would have their friends wait until it was published, then send a text message with the answers. The professor found out this was going on, so during one test he published a false answer key and found all the kids who were cheating.
    • by unsigned integer (721338) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @04:48PM (#16126261)
      Hah, nice.

      One of my professors took the LISP code we turned in, and ran a 'reduction' program on it ... changing all variables to 1 letter, removing all comments, removing all extra whitespace, basically making one "block" of code. Then he compared the normalized blocks to other people's blocks. He turned up two identical ones, and then gave them a t-shirt in class that said "I got busted cheating" ... but only one t-shirt. He said they would just share it anyway.
  • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks@tangentry.DALIcom minus painter> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:20AM (#16123608) Homepage
    When these damned cheaters get out into the workforce, they are going to continue to cheat! If their boss demands a recent history of the economy in Brazil, these losers will just hop online and get the answers rather than going to the library and doing their research. Heck, many of them may even cut and paste text directly from internet resources into their reports, further debasing themselves.

    I don't work in an engineering field, but a friend who does told me -- in strict confidence, so please don't quote me on this -- that many engineers these days use computer programs to do their job, and only keep slide rules on their desk in case their boss comes by.

    It is a scary world we are entering, with both the workplace and the university become result-oriented rather than method-oriented. One day soon, people may even think they can get a decent education without sitting in lecture halls for 20 hours a week!

    -b
    • by qbwiz (87077) *
      If their boss demands a recent history of the economy in Brazil, these losers will just hop online and get the answers rather than going to the library and doing their research

      You mean to tell me that they won't even go down to Brazil and investigate the economy themselves?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) *
      I understand your point, but consider this:

      What is the tensile strength of this steel tube I'm holding?

      The answer cannot be found in any reference work.

      KFG
    • by Selanit (192811) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @04:44AM (#16123901)
      Humph. Sure, go pick on the defenseless straw man.

      Bosses rarely ask you to write a history of the Brazilian economy. But they frequently say things like this:

      "Bob, the client wants to evaluate the feasability of building a bridge across the river near their Saskatoon branch. We'll need to identify potential sites within a few miles of the facility, analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each site, and do a rough estimate of the costs in both time and effort. You have three months."

      If you've never written an evaluative argument before, that's going to be really freaking hard. And DON'T wave the "Engineers don't need to write" flag at me - if you're going to be building a bridge, I want to know that you can convey complicated engineering problems to your bosses, who will not be engineers, clearly enough that they can make sane decisions about whether and how to do the job.

      Now. I teach writing. When a student cheats by plagiarizing from the Internet, they're cheating themselves of the experience that they'll NEED in order to undertake REAL writing assignments later on. If that bridge collapses because my student wasn't able to communicate clearly to the boss (and the boss's boss) through writing, then I bear some of the responsibility for that. So yeah, when students cheat in my class it's a problem.

      As for the "realism" of the assignments, my claim is this: writing is writing. Argumentation is argumentation. If you learn to write, and to argue, then you can do it about any topic from bridge-building to palaeography to proteomics and back again. So don't write plagiarists a pass if you want your bridges sturdy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aiken_d (127097)
        Sure. And if a boss tells 30 of is subordinates all do to the same thing, is it unreasonable or unwanted if they collaborate?

        The point of my little satire wasn't that there's no point to evaluative thinking, argumentation, and the cogent presentation of ideas. The point was that this little tempest in a teapot is about students evolving the same techniques that are appropriate in business: do as little work as necessary to produce a valid result.

        The problem lies in the artifical handicap of "assignments."
        • by Selanit (192811) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:48AM (#16125070)
          Sure. And if a boss tells 30 of is subordinates all do to the same thing, is it unreasonable or unwanted if they collaborate?


          Not at all unreasonable. But before you can work effectively in a group, you need to know how to work alone. Which is why we give them assignments in college where they have to do it themselves. Plagiarizing and collaborating on assignments that explicitly call for each student to work alone undermines their learning.

          If a professor wants students to actually think and produce new (or at least constructively derivative) material, the assignment can't be the same for everyone in every class, at college after college, year after year.


          1) No good teacher uses the same assignments year after year. I change mine every term, and so do most of the other teachers I know. We do so, not because the old assignments get "stale" somehow, but because students pass on their papers to newer students.

          2) Assignments should always offer a decent amount of flexibility. This is partly because the writing tends to get worse when the assignment is inflexible. But it's also because reading forty or fifty essays on the same topic, most of which will be poorly written, is an exercise in masochism. Building flexibility into the assignments gives the students scope to find an approach they find interesting (or at least tolerable) and keeps the instructor from going insane during grading.

          3) In a freshman level class, and indeed in most undergraduate classes, you can't expect the students to create new material. With rare, rare exceptions, it's simply beyond their current capabilities to come up with genuinely new contributions to knowledge. If they get to that point, it tends to happen towards the end of the undergrad years, or in graduate school.

          4) The thinking part is the real goal. And in this respect, the only thing you need to do is craft an assignment that requires the student to grapple with ideas that they haven't thought about before.

          Every single one of these pedagogical goals is completely destroyed when the student plagiarizes. If they don't do the assignment, they're not learning from it.

          You seem to be talking about students working together to complete the work; I'm talking about students who turn in "essays" in which 80% of the words have been pasted without alteration from web sites. It's my job to teach my students to write. You learn to write by WRITING. If they copy and paste giant chunks of text from the Internet, then they're not writing that text. Somebody else did. And when they turn it in without citing their source, they're lying about it. When they put their name at the top of a paper that contains unattributed text from other peoples' work, they're claiming that work as theirs.

          This is one of the fundamental tenets of academic life: you do your own work. If you draw on somebody else's work, you put it in quotes and you give a citation, both to acknowledge their contribution, and to allow your readers to consult the source for themselves if they'd like. If you don't, it's plagiarism. It's lying. It's theft. It's wrong. A lot of students don't seem to understand that. I tell them at the beginning what plagiarism is, why it's bad, and how to avoid it. BEFORE the first paper comes due. I devote a whole freaking class period to it. And STILL they turn in the plagiarized papers.

          This is NOT a "tempest in a teapot." It's a real problem. It takes time and resources away from the other things I have to do. Dealing with one plagiarized paper can take four to seven hours, not counting the administrative stuff.

          As for "evolving techniques" -- well, we academics aren't stupid. Nor, as some other posters (not parent poster) have suggested, are we lazy. We're going to continue to evolve countermeasures, catch every plagiarist we can, and punish them. And we're going to hate every minute of it, because we signed on to teach, not to police. So please - raise your kids to do their own work rather than leaching off other people.
  • Have the students write in-class essays on whatever topic they're supposedly plagiarizing Wikipedia for. They'll have to either learn the subject, or at least memorize a summary of the main points (which is what a sizable portion of them do anyhow).
    • Or call them in at random to defend their work. This is particularly easy with engineering design and computer programming. Ask them, "Why did you do it this way?". It won't even matter if they cheated or not, because if they repeatedly can't that answer, they deserve a lower grade anyway.

      But yeah, if you take away the advantage that the cheating provides, it won't happen much anymore.

  • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:22AM (#16123612) Journal
    My gf is a high school teacher. Last year, she was roped into teaching "Introduction to Technology" course. Basically: what is a mouse? What is email? What are documents?

    Being technically apt, I helped her mark most of the assignments for that course. After the first round of marking, I had an inkling that a group of her students were cheating by handing in duplicated spreadsheets.

    Her: How can you tell?
    Me: Well, for starters, they have the exact same data.
    Her: They did do web searches, so they could have found the same site.
    Me: Okay, but look at this. (alt-tabs between the 'sheets). They have the same formatting, font and cell size.
    Her: It is the default font...
    Me: True, but the formatting isn't. But check this out. You know how when you scroll down, then exit the spreadsheet, it "remembers" where you were when you re-open it?
    Her: Yes?
    Me: Check this out. (scrolls up to "title" line). See the student name?
    Her: Yes. It's Bob.
    Me: Right. Because this is Bob's spreadsheet. Now (alt-tab to Mary's, scrolls up) check out the title bar.
    Her: .... Bob.
    Me: (repeats for three others)

    And laziness is very easily spotted. I was able to see the simliar formatting and data. Anyone with a little bit of tech knowledge could spot it. But forgetting to remove the first student's name after the copy-and-paste...

    The point is, students who cheat are lazy. And lazy cheating is sloppy cheating. And sloppy cheating is easy to spot. The amount of effort one has to put into cheating "undetectably" would be equal to, if not much greater, than just doing it honestly.

    • by Jekler (626699)

      Cheaters and (other disreputable sorts) don't cheat to be undetectable. Most of them operate in the same manner as a spammer: they play it by numbers. If they suppose a certain number of people are going to be cheating, they can further suppose even the most astute instructor is going to miss catching some percentage. Even if the cheater gets caught they'll try explain away the incident.

      I'd say a fair guess is that at least 10% of all cheaters actually graduate without having to face consequences, and

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      What a complete lie.

      You're posting on /., you don't have a girlfriend.
  • A person is going to learn in college or they're going to fuck off. Just don't grade on a curve.

    How many people are submitting their transcripts for jobs? And what kind of jobs are these?

    The only time I've had to show any kind of school records was for a work visa in Singapore (As an American). As far as any other work, it's all been based on my personality and performance.

    I thought this was typical, but I could be living in a fantasy land.

    (Disclosure: I dropped out of college with one semester left beca
  • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:23AM (#16123615)
    The sad thing about this is that most professors know that this is happening. And the solution, well, a lot of people aren't going to like it. There's a principled answer (do lots of delightfully unique, practical assignments that can't just be cribbed; include a lot of 'called onto the carpet' type assessment where the students must verbally justify their essay/code/proof/whatever).

    Unfortunately, the 'I don't have time or funding for anything special' answer to the problem is to move massive amounts of assessment into in-class, high-pressure exams. So, if you're like me (thrive in these kind of exams, don't mind cram-studying, etc.) you'll love it. But there are many smart people out there - especially, it seems, women - who do comparatively worse under these kinds of high-stakes, high-pressure assessment than they do under comparatively more realistic settings.

    As an aside: As someone keen on maintaining the integrity of undergraduate education, I think it would be a great idea to seed sites like Student of Fortune with plausible answers that would slide by some cheating twit, but would instantly be detected by a TA or professor. I bet you could slide some really amusing stuff past these guys...
    • Unfortunately, the 'I don't have time or funding for anything special' answer to the problem is to move massive amounts of assessment into in-class, high-pressure exams. So, if you're like me (thrive in these kind of exams, don't mind cram-studying, etc.) you'll love it. But there are many smart people out there - especially, it seems, women - who do comparatively worse under these kinds of high-stakes, high-pressure assessment than they do under comparatively more realistic settings.

      Well, I think that
      • If you give a 15-minute mini-exam at the end of every lesson, this will quickly become routine.

        Yup. I had a few classes where the profs did that, although they were usually weekly 5-minute exams at the beginning of class on the material that had been covered a week or two ago (so if you were a little slow, you would have had time to ask questions/get clarification before you had to write an exam on the topic). I think it worked quite well. Some idiots tried to cheat on those exams, but an assigned seat

    • The sad thing about this is that most professors know that this is happening. And the solution, well, a lot of people aren't going to like it. There's a principled answer (do lots of delightfully unique, practical assignments that can't just be cribbed; include a lot of 'called onto the carpet' type assessment where the students must verbally justify their essay/code/proof/whatever).

      "Unique, practical assignments" are not the principled answer. The princpled answer is: whenever cheating if discovered

  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:24AM (#16123616)
    Any college that lets students walk during graduation after cheating isn't a very good college indeed. Students don't deserve to graduate, but maybe that's a bit too harsh.

    Invalidating their grades with automatic F's, not only in the class they cheated in, but all the classes they have taken within that school year, would be the solution. One can figure if one has cheated in one class, one has possibly cheated in others too.

    However, for the above to be done, students need to be drilled during freshman orientation. They need to be explained the institution's cheating policy, and what constitutes cheating and what is "fair". Fair is when you cite your sources. At least then, you're being honest about where you obtained your information. Copying and pasteing isn't real work. You're suppose to paraphrase in your own words. (Maybe it's the secondary schools' fault for not better preparing students in regard with this matter.)
    • by Stonehand (71085)
      If memory serves, at my alma mater, the possible penalties for cheating included expulsion from the university. This was rare, but permissible; lesser sanctions included failing that particular exam, or failing the entire course.
      • What kind of cheating was it exactly? I think the degree of cheating needs to determine the punishment.

        Using cell phones in class to cheat on a test, or answers written on one's arm, deserves a harsh punishment due to the fact it was thought out beforehand.

        However, glancing over at someone's paper and copying an answer or two, that would simply deserve failing the exam to failing the course.

        Copying papers off the Net (without citing the source) deserves failing the class to failing the whole term for all cl
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:25AM (#16123620)
    I just provide the links to the data and tell my prof to RTFA.
  • by linguae (763922) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:30AM (#16123638)

    It seems like there is a growing lack of respect for academic integrity now of days. Most of these cheaters have only one goal in college: graduate and make big bucks at all costs. They don't care about academic integrity; they just care about the fat paychecks that they think that they'll receive after they graduate. It's not about learning; it's about getting through school at all costs.

    It does no good for somebody to have a college degree if he or she didn't learn anything in the entire process. That is the trouble with cheating. Sure a cheater may be able to bypass an exam, a class, or even a few semesters. However, he or she wouldn't have learned as much (if anything) during school, and the cheater won't be effective when he or she goes to work. Imagine if the engineers that built our transportation systems, buildings, and other structures that we rely on, cheated through school and on the engineering licensing exams? Imagine if our doctors cheated their way through school? Cheating may be the easy way out of a test or class, but it is very detrimental to the cheater in the long run, even if the cheater never gets caught. And, in some extreme cases, cheaters may cost other people money, or even lives.

    Students need to learn the value of their education. Undergraduate school is a greuling, grinding, seemingly never ending stream of courses (I'm a sophomore CS major now), but cheating is just a quick fix (if not caught) that certainly doesn't help in future courses, future jobs, and especially for future academics. College is hard. Cheating is a terrible way of dealing with college academics, and it is certainly an ineffective way to learn something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jesdynf (42915)
      Although you're entitled to your opinion, I don't feel you deserve the Insightful tag.

      It's not about learning; it's about getting through school at all costs.

      Look at the converse -- it's not about teaching, it's about revenue at all costs.

      You get screwed by "teachers" and robbed by the schools, you can suddenly find yourself less... respectful... of the notion that honesty plays well, especially when you can't detect a shred of it on the part of the /people you're paying more money than you've ever had in y

  • by houghi (78078) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:37AM (#16123656)
    The knowledge has to be cominning from somewhere. Wether this is from Wikipedia, from abook you stole from the library or from getting notes from somebody who actually did follow the lectures is irrelevant.

    Perhaps you could, you know, actually try to find out if the student understands what he has written, irregardless what the source was.

    The fact that studets cheat is not new. The fact that professors have methods of finding out if they did the work themselves or not is also a few centuries old. It is just that the methods changed.

    Reminds me of when I was cheating (although not on univerrity) I made a cheating-not and wrote it smaller and smaller and that a few times. I perfected that cheatingnote so often that by the time I needed it, I didn't anymore. So the joke was on me, instead of making a cheating-note, I was actually learning and probably spend more time on it this way then when I would have 'learned' it the regular way.

    Yet if they would have found the note, I would have most likely still failed, regardless of wether I knew what I had to know or not.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @05:18AM (#16123979) Homepage

      Reminds me of when I was cheating (although not on univerrity) I made a cheating-not and wrote it smaller and smaller and that a few times. I perfected that cheatingnote so often that by the time I needed it, I didn't anymore. So the joke was on me, instead of making a cheating-note, I was actually learning and probably spend more time on it this way then when I would have 'learned' it the regular way.


      i've done that since a history teacher in high school allowed us a single side of a 3x5 (or whatever the standard size) index card for notes for an entire semester. you'd write as small as you could on a notebook sheet of paper, reduce and figure out what was mos timportant, redo, etc. until you remembered all the fairly trivial things - as you decided "if I can remember it, I won't need to write it down". eventually you get your note card, and then you rewrite it so its legible. by the time you're done, all your notecard has are short abbreviations with dates, numbers, and other pertinent data in CSV, and you've essentially memorized which event belonged to which section of the index card, allowing you to figure out what you had to do.

      i've used that method of studying ever since. it's very effective.
  • by ForestGrump (644805) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @02:50AM (#16123687) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that the system is moving away from graders and TAs and more towards automated grading. The problem is that you take the personal aspect out of education, and are subsituting the TA/grader for a computer program. This takes away insightful comments that a TA/grader would give.

    If you get a problem wrong, you get it wrong. If it's a complex problem involving many steps (such as in physics), you could get the first half right, but the second half wrong. If you were to turn this into a TA, the TA would be able to mark the paper saying you are good here and this is where you fell apart. With an automated grading system, however, wrong is wrong. It becomes frustrating to the student to understand where they went wrong. As a way to alleviate such frustration, many turn to cheating with solution manuals and simply plug in the answers from the solution manual so they can get a high score on the homework.

    And even worse, I have a friend who recenetly graduated from another university, and he said they used another automated homework system there. He said that there was a program floating around that would take your homework, and automatically solve the problems and fill in the solutions for you. Taking out the hassle of looking up the problem in the solution manual.

    As for scantron tests, still feel it is an approiate format to test studens in when the class size is large and the question pool is diverse enough. Granted due dilligence is taken so that students don't cheat during the test.

    Grump
  • stupid cheating (Score:2, Redundant)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594)
    What's the difference between cheating and learning? When I was in middle school, I used to take paragraphs from sources and paraphrase them and dumb them down so that it would sound like I wrote it, and I was a straight A student. What's the point of this intermediate step? If I decide to read a Wikipedia entry about Thomas Edison to learn more about him, why the hell should I have to paraphrase something that's in that article? And if I paraphrase, how does it make my work any less "cheating" than someone
    • And if I paraphrase, how does it make my work any less "cheating" than someone who copies word for word from the same source?

      It's still plagiarism in Real School (if there is such a thing) if you don't cite your sources.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by k98sven (324383)
      What's the difference between cheating and learning? When I was in middle school, I used to take paragraphs from sources and paraphrase them and dumb them down so that it would sound like I wrote it, and I was a straight A student. What's the point of this intermediate step?

      I think your second question holds the answer to the first: You can't paraphrase or dumb it down unless you've first understood what it means. Which implies learning.

      And if I paraphrase, how does it make my work any less "cheating" than
  • All the more reason for exams to evaluate understanding rather than knowledge. My university experience at Arizona State was crap because every test, exam and quiz was multiple choice. An 'A' in a class like Human Sexual Behavior meant memorizing names and dates. An 'A' in Latin American History meant memorizing names and dates. An 'A' in Political Economy meant memorizing names and dates. All the rote garbage was like something out of the Dark Ages. The way to test understanding is by making students
    • by Stonehand (71085)
      Indeed.

      This was one of the things I considered when helping to write a final exam (as a TA) for an undergraduate course. One of the less straightforwards questions described a novel, nontrivially different variation on an algorithm that they'd already seen, and asked them to (a) decide whether it work for the original problem, and (b) explain why. If they didn't understand the original algorithm, this would have been quite difficult despite the exam being open-book.

      There were other questions with that dir

  • ... A "Slashdot of Fortune" website, where you can buy /. comments which will be modded "informative," "insightful," "funny" or whatever moderation
    you're looking for? Maybe even some fresh trolls to replace the GNAA and "Stephen King found dead" trolls? Dupes for the /. editors to buy? Alternative CSS stylesheets for slashdot?

    Somebody should jump all over this, you'll make a killing...
  • by AsmordeanX (615669) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @04:19AM (#16123858)
    In 1997 I was in a computer science class. Our final assignment was to write a version of the Game of Live in C. A week after turning it in the professor stands at the front of the class and says:

    "Isn't the internet a great thing? All those answers at your fingertips in seconds. Just a few words to the wise. If your going to cheat on an assignment, don't cut and paste then hand it in. Of the 120 of you sitting here, 18 will no longer be attending the university and another 15 will not be attending lectures anymore but will get an F for this course.

    Just as easy as you can search for the answers, I can search for your code."

    Granted this is going back nearly 10 years where the volume of information was less than it is now. I think professors need to tailor their requirements to something that isn't easily googled and downloaded.
  • by MulluskO (305219) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @05:45AM (#16124036) Journal
    For those of you who read the full blog post, does it seem to you that this is merely an attempt at viral marketing by the propietors of student of fortune?
  • Blaming the tool? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @08:47AM (#16124464) Journal
    Blaming the internet for cheating is like blaming guns for murder - idiotic.

    Perhaps it makes cheating easier, and in any case it's far far simpler to point to a 'technology' and say "IT IS TEH EVIL".

    More problematic and complex to point to:
    - over crowded classrooms, and overstretched teachers who are unable to catch what is usually rather obvious
    - social promotion and a complete lack of punishment of any kind ensures that what kids learn is that they are suckers if they DO the work; cheaters never get punished, downgraded, kicked out - cultural relativism has ensured that there is always an explanation, always an excuse, and never any shame. Heaven forbid we shame anyone or make them feel bad.
    - ultimately, a culture of opportunism and "me first" that's become endemic. Not that it isn't always present in the human animal, but as our culture atomizes (perhaps the real way the internet is making this worse...) there's logically a greater and greater emphasis on narcissism and self achievement at ANY cost.

    No, no, it MUST be the internet that's doing it. Sigh.
  • Some of it's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mkiwi (585287) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @09:00AM (#16124505)
    I did an independent study for a class where the programming language was C. I found my game so interesting that I decided to try to get it posted on sourceforge.net. I submitted it and it was accepted (yay!).


    The program is a game that does a lot of random number generation and text processing. It operates essentially like a shell does.

    I noticed a sharp increase in downloads every fall and spring of the source code for the game. I received two emails from professors (who will remain anonymous) that students were taking my project and, with very few modifications, were submitting it as their project for a semester.

    I love everything being open source, but if people are to cheat using my stuff then that is not acceptable. I decided to hide the source code on the sf.net download page and only have a universal binary for Mac OS X (Windows, you are coming when I get your pch crap done, I also have plans to make a Linux version).

    The downloads stopped except for the people who actually wanted to use the program for fun. While I want my app to be open source, it makes me angry that people would use my work as their own. I absolutely hate cheating, so much so that I am willing to stop source code downloads in my projects.

    It is sad, really, but if that is what must be done to stop people from stealing my work, violating the GPL, and being bastards in general, then I will have to open up the source for the project only during the summer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pruss (246395)
      Don't sf.net rules require that source be available?

      You could embed some comments asserting your authorship in the middle of the code. I wouldn't be surprised if the cheaters just lop off headers at the top and don't look inside the code. But the professor will, or at least should, look at all of the code.
  • by Shados (741919) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @09:21AM (#16124571)
    This is college we're talking about, not highschool, so it is likely that students are being prepared for the real world. The internet is part of the real world: what it means is, it should be part of college.

    Now, there's 2 places where you can cheat in college: exams, and homework. Exams shouldn't be an issue if the school handles them correctly (They don't, but thats their problem). Don't crowd the classes as much, have the room in which its being held be "wave proof" (no cell phones, no wifi), and so on. Have TAs look around for people using point to point wireless devices and old school cheats (like someone using a Nintendo DS's pictochat or something to give answers), but that last one is the same as it was 20 years ago.

    The rest, is homework. Really. we're talking about college here: students should be given homework that are relevent. If anything can be straight copy and pasted from some web site, then it is not relevent: in the real world, they would have been able to copy and paste it -TOO-. "Googling" answers is a useful real life skill. I remember when my girlfriend started college (as a CS major). She couldn't find stuff on the net if her life depended on it. I had to push her a bit :) And now she does much better.

    So when making homework, always have the internet in mind. Yes, it forces schools to redesign some of their content. I'm sorry, but the world changed, if school doesn't, students will not be prepared for the world.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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