by Mike Masnick

Teachers Can Stop Internet Cheaters By Asking For Opinions

from the one-way... dept

An Op-Ed piece in the NY Times takes on the issue of internet plagiarism (after first pointing out that you can buy a term paper on internet plagiarism from one site for only $19.95), by suggesting that a better way to beat student cheaters is for professors (specifically humanities professors) to change the way they teach. The writer (an English professor himself) argues that too many professors are simply teaching students how to "read" but not how to take that information and do something useful with it. His suggestion is that more assignment be tied to personal experiences and personal opinions that will let a student get more out of the piece in understanding themselves, while also making it more difficult to cheat. Personal opinions and personal experiences can often be faked as well - but it's not a bad idea to suggest professors look for more creative ways to force students to come up with their own words for assignments.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Ed Halley, Sep 9th, 2003 @ 5:58am

    No Subject Given

    It's a good idea, but in my experience, very few kids grow up with the self-awareness it takes to *form* opinions.

    I used to think the "well, I dunno" response was just a reaction to embarrassment. Now I recognize it as deeper: they often have no opinion, because they often don't understand context, because nobody has really engaged them to think critically or to form opinion models at a young age.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Chris, Sep 9th, 2003 @ 6:39am

    No Subject Given

    Yeah, but that is a teaching problem. They aren't taught to have opinions. They are taught to memorize and recite. There is a place for that in very early education when you are just learning the facts so to speak. But at some point applying what you know should become the central point of learning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    teacher, Sep 9th, 2003 @ 7:13am

    Re: No Subject Given

    You try doing this when you have a class size of 100+ - there just isn't the time to do it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Saygin?, Sep 9th, 2003 @ 8:11am

    Re: class of 100

    I agree with teacher. I'm pulling my kid out of that class of 100 as soon as possible. It'll give her and teacher a better shot at being taught and being able to teach.

    A quote from "Those Young Americans" in this week's issue of the Economist hits it on the head:

    "Most [American] children lack access to public education until they are six. Schools have not woken up to the fact that America is no longer an agricultural society: they finish at 3pm and close down for almost 3 months in the summer. Day care is expensive and uneven. It is harder to qualify as a manicurist than as a child-mainder. After-school services are patch. One if five 6-12-year-olds with working mothers comes home to an empty house."

    And it's too much for me to ask you to ask my kid for her opinion? For shame.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Munich, Sep 9th, 2003 @ 8:44am

    Analysis Just Another Type of Opinion

    I don't think the issue is asking students their "opinion", since an analysis IS a backed-up opinion. For example, in a literary analysis the student might back up an analysis with other literaray references, philosphy and text and plot from the work they are analyzing ("Do you think Shakespeare had any intentions of suggesting an Oedipal relationship between Hamlet and his mother? Why or why not?)

    Doing this analysis requires having an understanding of Oedipus Rex, perhaps some psychology, and a grasp of the play at hand.
    There is no "right" answer - it's an opinion. The grader doesn't grade on the opinion, but on how the writer backs up his/her case. No memorization of "facts" are required to do this, but an informed opinion arrived at by critical analysis is certainly required.

    By asking them to compare Hamlet to their private life, you are essentially dumbing down the entire effort.

    If you want to avoid plaigarism, have them do the essay in-class. With a blue book. Do they even still use those?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    thecaptain, Sep 9th, 2003 @ 8:59am

    Re: No Subject Given

    The thing is, I'm not sure its viewed by the "powers that be" (ie: the upper crust in charge) as a "problem"

    Think about it...people who aren't taught to think critically means a general population who can no longer critize 1) The government, 2) big companies who market you to death every second of every day so they can get your money.

    Joe Sixpack can barely form an opinion beyond a sheeplike belief in every trend force fed on them by TV, let alone work to form an INFORMED opinion about anything.

    The best sound people in charge can hear from the general population is "baaaaaa baaaaaaa"

    Sure some of us snap out of it and learn ourselves but if it was institutionalized....imagine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2003 @ 2:19pm

    No Subject Given

    Opinions only count if they agree with Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Mike (profile), Sep 9th, 2003 @ 2:30pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    No, all opinions count, but if you're going to disagree, you should at least be willing to discuss it in a reasonable manner. I enjoy the discussions that we have around here with people who disagree with me. However, that doesn't mean I won't argue back and try to point out why I believe I'm right. I believe in my opinions for a reason, and think that a difference of opinion is often because we don't understand each other's reasons. So, a difference of opinion is a good thing, since it lets me review my own reasons and (yes, it's true!) adjust them if I'm wrong.

    So, for example, I disagree with your opinion that "Opinions only count if they agree with Mike" and I'm telling you why. It's not that your opinion doesn't count, it's just that stating that (as if it's a *fact* instead of your own opinion) does little to further the conversation. Give me reasons!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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