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
    University Student, 30 Mar 2007 @ 5:34am

    Re: From a Student

    So now that you've figured out the plagiarism issue and it's impact on degree integrity, how about addressing the one where students are passing classes with straight A's because the emphasis is now on proper citation and other superfolous issues rather than actually obtaining the subject knowledge or competency intended in the first place!!

    I'm also a student, who happens to have many years of "real world" work experience. I can tell you that a large number of the students in the several universities I have attended in the past decade are graduating with less competency than individuals who graduate from a 12-16 week certification course required in my profession. Why is it that these "college" students who spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) on education are less than half as qualified after 4 years of "higher education" than those that spend roughly a "semester" in a certification course costing only several thousand dollars???

    I do agree with your analysis of the trending issue regarding personal integrity, but this is NOT how you solve that problem - of course this solution did come from one of the "academics" (term used loosely) who was looking for a way to achieve greater wealth than his education or occupation would allow. (I personally have no problem with this - providing that it is done ethically and legally - without question!)

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