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
    Starky, 23 Sep 2006 @ 11:03am

    My school uses Turn-it-in (though most teachers have stopped using it because they don't trust it anymore), and one of my friend's reports was incorrectly marked as plagiarism because it was identical to itself. Yes, apparently it added it to the database of papers to check against before it checked it, and it decided that it was plagiarized (or it was sent twice and compared against the first). He was able to convince the teacher easily enough, as it showed the teacher the report it was plagiarized from as my friends paper.

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against trying to keep students from cheating. I just think that it should be better known that the system still has some flaws that could mean the difference between passing and failing.

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