Cheating Preventions

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by mattbrent, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    Hi All,

    As a teacher in a K-12 environment, I always have to be on the lookout for individuals who may have cheated. Fortunately, I have only encountered cheating in the form of plagiarism twice. However, I know that there may have been some students who have slipped by me.

    I recently completed my last assignment for my MSEd with Walden University. (I still have to complete my portfolio, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm done!) I just recently got to thinking about how easy it is to cheat via distance learning. Although most of my assignments were written in a narrative format, with the exception of my research project, I could have easily made up a ton of stuff or just taken it from someone else. This prompts my question. What methods do schools with DL programs employ to prevent cheating? I know some schools base it on honor alone, but let's face it, there's not much honor today.

    My high school has been looking at a program called TurnItIn, which helps with research papers and plagiarism. Although the division is too cheap to purchase the subscription to it, the application is a great idea, and would not only serve as a prevention tool, but a teaching tool. Do any DL institutions use items such as this?

    I recall hearing a few years back that a cat had earned an MBA through UoP (I think), but I couldn't find an article about it via google. I could have had my facts wrong, but if this was, in fact, true, it makes me wonder how valued my degree will be.

    What do you all think about this?
  2. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

    Integrity problems

    There are serious integrity problems in distance education. Major DL players need to address these issues before they get caught graduating cats, dogs and others...

    There are fixes. IMHO at least some exams should be proctored - to prevent cheating and ensure the identity of participants. I am also a big fan of short residency programs where faculty interact one-on-one with students.

    In on-line classes I've gone with a number of techniques to deter cheating and make it harder to do. For one, in quantitative courses I typically use the last two digits of a student's id number in problems - such as:

    "Assume the exchange rate between the Euro and the US dollar is .6XY euros to the dollar (where XY are are last two digits of your student number)....

    This at least makes it tougher to cheat.

    I've used and it works pretty well. I use it not only in a punitive way, but as a basis for teaching students how to properly cite sources.

    Regards - Andy
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Many universities use TurnItIn, including the one where I am now, but that's not a distance learning issue, they use it for both online and on campus courses. In fact, it's probably easier to use it with online courses because it can be built into the LMS.

    Generally, I'm not sure why you're concerned specifically about distance learning. I mean, I'm taking two courses on campus this term, and I have yet to show ID. That guy who goes in there every week could be anyone, right?

    And I don't believe that Phoenix awarded an MBA to a cat. That sounds like an urban legend to me.

  4. certifiednetpro

    certifiednetpro New Member

    UOP didn't award the cat, but a diploma mill did. Here is the link

    I don't if the cat cheated because he looks pretty smart with the cap on.
  5. Excelsior uses turnitin, i have only one problem with these guys. their business basically publishes peoples papers without their consent to create a database of papers to compare whatever is being tested, that is how they catch you. I think what my high school teachers was better, they took one phrase that seemed to be above the rest of the paper and google it, they caught a lot of people like that.
  6. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    But the cat only had a 3.5 GPA so it must not have been too easy :D
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Once again it seems that distance learning, proprietary education, and academic legitimacy have all been confused.

    And that copyright argument is what's behind a lawsuit called DontTurnItIn.

    Agreed -- that's simple but effective.

  8. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

    I've used Turnitin for a while and I've yet to see them publish anyone's paper. All they do is show you where one of your student's papers matches someone's elses work and if it is on the web - the URL. That's it.

    I must be missing it - but I don't see the issue here.

    Also, turnitin does check against a journal database (ProQuest I believe) to find copied materials from journal sources.

    Regards - Andy

  9. maybe publish is the wrong word, but they capitalize off of other peoples work without their permission and most of the time they dont even know that their papers are included in the system. I think that they should at least obtain consent if not compensate the author for letting them use their paper to be added in their data base.
  10. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    That's precisely what I did. Sorry, but there are some words that are well above the average joe high schooler's vocabulary. I searched for the phrase with the word in it, and voila! I found the whole paper.

    Now here's the kicker. When I wrote the referral to the office about the incident, I was the one reprimanded, because according to the student, I didn't inform her that this was not acceptable. What BS! Honestly, that made me want to go steal the principal's SUV because, after all, she didn't tell me I couldn't.
  11. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    I see your point. I suppose I didn't think about that becaues I went to a small school where we could freely interact with our professors. We didn't have TA's. I even had coffee with some of my profs. It was a great... I miss those days, and look forward to the day when I can do that with my students.

    I suppose I was thinking of distance learning because it just seems easier to cheat. Yes, I could go into a brick and mortar classroom and pose as someone else, but they could ask me for ID. Granted they could do that via DL as well, they probably couldn't ask for it on the spot as an "in person" prof could do.

    My high school is very small as well. Our enrollment is about 450, and although I have not taught every student, I pretty much know them all. With the era of standardized testing, there have been situations (not in my school) where students have tried to pose as others to take their state tests for them so that they can pass and ultimately graduate. Many schools know actually require students to sign-in when testing and provide ID. It's sad to think that we're in a world where this becomes required, but I think it would be a step in the right direction.

  12. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    I have no idea who my students are; verifying their identity is the job of the school, not the teacher.

    UoP has their own plagiarism checker, it might be linked to TurnItIn or something else, I'm not sure. I've caught several students with unattributed sections in research papers, but like Andy said I use it more as a teaching tool to show them how to properly cite.

    In one instance, I had my suspicions about one student because his personal e-mails to me bordered on illiterate, but his papers were extremely well-done. My suspicions were confirmed when a chiropractor who installed monitoring software on his office computers contacted me. His secretary, who was my student's girlfriend, was doing all his assignments for him while at work or after work. I turned him in and he received very serious sanctions, about one step from expulsion.
  13. mattbrent

    mattbrent Well-Known Member

    I bet I took classes with that guy. I've been in some courses with folks who couldn't write at all. Of course, that was with a school that accepted everyone. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I would hope that after earning a degree, one would be able to write coherently. I worry about my students. They spend too much time texting and IMing that their netspeak has made its way into their assignments and essays. But at least they're not cheating, haha...

  14. I had a guy in one of my classes who had english as a second language, his post on the board showed it but at the end of the class he sent us all an email and i think it said something about how it was great working with us and he got an A, I was shocked, i got a B+ and my english is prefect and i doubt his papers were any better than his post. Either he was being graded on a different scale or he was cheating. I can see how you can pass someone who cant even speak the language the book or the class is in.
  15. PaulC

    PaulC Member

    Cheating is just as easy on ground as online. It has been done successfully for as long as B&M institutions have existed. Let's not turn suppositions into facts.

    I teach on ground and online. Most of my assessments on ground are project based. Any project based assignment can be plagiarized and the faculty must be diligent about rooting it out whether online or in a classroom.

    I quite easily identify papers that have plagiarized. An observant and aware faculty knows it when they see it and can use google to almost always find the source.
  16. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

  17. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    A humorous story about plagiarism (if that subject can be considered humorous);

    I was working a detail at a hospital emergency room, and the desk for the detail officer was right next to where the EMS personnel would do their paperwork. A female EMT was gathering some paperwork when I walked by the desk, and something jumped out at me; the title page of a research paper:

    Dealing With Schizophrenia as an Emergency Services Worker.

    That was the exact title of a paper I had written for an Abnormal Psychology course I had taken years earlier, and I thought it was a bit too much of a coincidence. I asked her about the paper, and she was clearly uncomfortable talking about it. When I started quoting extensive sections and examples of the paper, she thought I was psychic.

    It turns out I had given a copy of my paper to another officer from a different department as an example of how to use APA formatting, and he apparently gave it to someone else, who gave it to someone else, and so on and so on.

    The ironic part is this EMT had changed some minor details (substituting EMS for police), put her name on it, and planned on submitting it to the same professor to whom I originally submitted it. She turned three shades of green when I told her this, as the paper was due the next day. I don't know what she ever did, as I haven't seen her since then.
  18. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    I often wonder about this. My wife has a friend who came here at a very young age from Vietnam. Although she should speak good English, she was raised in a very tight knit Vietnamese community, so unfortunately, neither her English nor her Vietnamese are very good. Anyway, she graduated from a very well known university with a B.S. in Business. However, she can barely write a decent basic sentence. My wife has to help her redo her resume and cover letters whenever she changes jobs. So how did she get the B.S.? Do they cut limited English speakers more slack? Don't get me wrong, I speak English and Spanish myself (American born) and I am not trying to bash anyone, but I have always believed my English skills should be as good as they can be. Just wondering.

  19. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Uh oh! :eek: Is plagiarizing a cop's term paper an arrestable offense? :D
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    What Andy says....

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