The Growing Backlash Against Automated Cheating Detectors

from the but-for-a-good-reason dept

It's been nearly four years since we wrote about students and parents being upset that online services that check student homework for plagiarism were also uploading and storing a copy of every paper they checked. It got to the point, earlier this year, that at least one university banned the use of Turnitin, one of the most popular services in this field. It seems that the student rebellion against such tools is growing, as many more students are questioning the legality of such tools, and asking their schools to stop using them. They're not just upset about the uploads, but about the assumption of guilt. While there clearly is plenty of plagiarism to go around, that doesn't mean this is the right solution to it. It's often easy to just throw technology at a problem, but it's worth recognizing that doing so always raises unexpected issues -- and those issues may not be technological on their own, but legal and cultural issues. It seems like many of the schools who jumped on the Turnitin bandwagon didn't spend much time thinking about those additional consequences, and are now facing student anger because of it.

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  1. identicon
    Mike Mixer, 23 Sep 2006 @ 8:44am

    Re: secrecy breeds corruption

    That won't work. That would be forcing the people to choose between grades and privacy, we don't even force suspected murderers to give that up. the only way to combat cheating is to allow the work to only be done in the teachers presence. If that is too hard for the teacher to handle maybe there has to be some thought put into how much work is being required by everybody. Most of the plagiarism problem today is caused by the teachers wanting too much work out of the students. When I graduated from High school it was already starting. The students who were bearing the load were cheating at least a little bit and the honest ones soon started to keep up. Even in the community college I went to there were teachers who were fresh out of school with a masters scroll in their hand and nothing but teaching jobs to fall into so they were expecting the same work they did out of us at a much lower level. Expecting a solid education is reasonable but simply piling on more and heavier asignments is not the way to achieve it, there has to be a kind of free-learning that is not outcome based or all you'll get out of schools are burned out cheaters.

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