Cheating and plagiarism

After my first two semesters teaching, I could have sworn that something about me just attracts plagiarism and cheating.  For privacy reasons, I won’t go into details but I’ve had to deal with more than a few cases of flat-out, copy and paste efforts, as well as cross-course collusion among students in other sections.  Although the students probably didn’t know it, I probably felt worse for having to dole out the punishment than they felt about receiving it.    However, in the past week, I seem to not be alone on addressing these issues.

According to Trip Gabriel’s article in the NY Times, an average of 61% of students have cheated on exams or assignment.  Sites like Course Hero and tips such as changing “e” in your papers to a Cyrillic font to trick Turnitin.com are part of the method of these students.   Finally, the old tricks of under-the-hat notes have been traded in for notes-blended-in-the-body-art method.  Evidently, I’m not alone.

So, what do we do about it?

I’ve been pondering this question for a while now and feel that my best attempt to fight the increasing problem is not to modify my own assignments (although changing questions does help).  Instead, I’m considering having my students read about real-life plagiarism and cheating issues and the costs.  For example, Colorado gubernatorial candidate, McInnis, has recently been hit with plagiarism charges during his re-election bid for lifting material from a columnist and a judge, reports NPR.  $300k appears to now be owed to the company for who McInnis wrote one of these plagiarized articles.  Even back in May the BBC reported that Versace won a huge settlement against copyright/intellectual property infringement for the production and selling of knock-off goods in Los Angeles.  $20 million is nothing to ignore.

We’ll see how the new segment strikes students in the Fall.  In the meantime, if you have any stories to share about how to fight plagiarism or other examples of real-life effects of plagiarism, feel free to share….

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