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
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2006 @ 11:52pm

    You know, I have seen a situation where in one semester a student submitted an assignment... that assignment was marked favourably. That student did not pass that class for other reasons (exams or other assignments... but could easily have been the choice to drop out for personal reasons).

    So the next semester the same class is attempted. The same assignment is set. Is it then wrong that the student hands in the exact same assignment? Does that break plagiarism rules? Hell no... so why is this student immediately given a Fail and have to prove their innocence?

    These tools are all well and good, but if there is no checks on who submitted each assignment (and therefore a copyright for each of those submissions to those authors) then the system is invalid and should be scrapped.

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