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
    Cleverboy, 23 Sep 2006 @ 2:08pm

    Re: hard work and honesty seem like anachronistic

    "Yeah, it's so sad that teachers and professors cannot be bothered to read and judge the papers themselves. Got to crank out the "product" assembly-line style." - Dave

    You don't know what you're talking about. The teachers don't use the tool to GRADE or evaluate the quality of the paper, simply to check if it is actually the work of the student handing it in, or instead, based on someone else's work. I agree, however, that a much better level of transparency, would be to simply allow students to CHECK their paper the same way the teacher would, except perhaps without access to any detailed reporting. This, in my opinion is important for false-positives if nothing else.

    Why teachers, who only should be checking papers on merit, should somehow be expected to be omnitient, and cheating students be rewarded for the obscurity of their theft, is beyond me. The Google comparison is VERY approriate. WHY this is an issue is simply because students don't want to get caught. Oh, heavens... what a SHOCKER!

    Assertions that without "cheating" many students wouldn't graduate has GOT to be the most ridiculous excuse I've ever heard. Sorry.

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