Plagiarism website: trading post for English papers
Original post made on Feb 23, 2013
Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, February 23, 2013, 2:46 PM
on Feb 23, 2013 at 11:12 pm
The use of Turnitin.com is far more controversial than this ill-researched article would suggest.
To start, teachers at Gunn are far less trained than (apparently) teachers at Paly and seem to not have the slightest idea of how to properly use the site.
The second concern is that a submission to Turnitin.com is licensed over to them, and since students are required to use the service (getting a zero otherwise), they have no choice in the matter. This is a serious and grave legal concern for which no solution has ever been proposed, by either Turnitin or the district.
The first sentence says that it has become a "plagiarism instructor for students". This is truer than the author realizes; frequently the allowed pre-evaluation simply tells the student what plagiarized sentences need to be re-worded in order to pass unnoticed. (Plagiarism is the use of others' *ideas* without attribution, not others' words. Turnitin conflates the two, another crucial flaw.)
As demonstrated in this article, it also has far more false positives than is acceptable for a service that the district pays so much for. It is essentially useless in this regard; I remind the district that Google is free, and that competent English teachers ought to be discerning enough to be able to detect plagiarism without any aid.
Lastly, the mention of being able to grade papers digitally has no bearing on the usefulness of Turnitin at all; it is hardly a unique feature of the site.
Whether "everybody's upset" when plagiarism occurs also has no bearing whatsoever on the issue.
on Feb 24, 2013 at 6:45 am
The severe cheaters just dig themselves into a ditch they cannot climb out of. If they can use an pre-submission report, I am sure some will plagiarize and see what pieces work and what pieces don't. Then they do the same on the college essays, get into a college that they can't handle, so they cheat again. Since they're pretty hardened at this point, they will find ways to get through the system and then they realize the working world is not the same as school--you are making, not copying, the information. So they resort to cheating in other ways such as taxes and get really messed up.
The vast majority of cheating happens just before the deadline. For some reason, students like to do the assignment the night before (in college the hour before) it is due. You are really stressed at this point and just want to find something to keep that "A". Copying or looking at someone's code to fix your bugs is "the solution". Morale: control your workload instead of letting it control you.
Also, hope the people at Turnitin are smart enough to realize that you can't plagiarize your own work. That was a problem when the science teachers used Blackboard's SafeAssign five years ago.
on Feb 24, 2013 at 10:00 am
Publius has answered a few of the questions that came to mind from reading this articlewhich leaves one wondering: "what's the point of this article?"
There are some interesting tid-bits offered to readers, but nothing solid, so all one can do is wonder what is really going on at the PAUSD, relative to using "technology". Publius suggests that the use/understanding by teachers at the two high schools is not equivalent. This is more than a little disturbinggiven that the two schools are only about 2-3 miles apart, and connected by the Internet. Sowhy wouldn't the people in charge of "Institutional/Educational Technology" have prepared a meaningful package of materials for teachersso that they could effectively use this technology? Or, is it just wishful thinking that there is a department of "Institutional/Educational Technology" at the PAUSD?
The tid-bit about the students preparing a video was hopefulbut what about the Staff? Shouldn't they have a video developed to help them understand this tool kit/set? What role does the Superintendent play in overseeing the development of these tools, and insuring that all teachers are adequately prepared before being expected to use these tools?
Although not directly discussed, there is the possibility that software that actually can grade papers might exist, or might come into existence, one of these days. Is anyone at the PAUSD looking forwardat possibilities like these?
This article doesn't really make much of a point, since it doesn't provide much in the way of details. Maybe the author can think about some of the comments from readers, and rework this article to include some meaningful information
Cost of the Turnitin package.
Review of the analysis capabilities of this package.
Problems with "false positives"
Alternative Offerings to Turnitin.
Comments By Students (Pro and Con)
Total number of cases of plagiarism detected across the whole schools system.
Typical punishment for plagiarism.
Number of grade levels using Turnitin.
Hopefully, this Weekly author can do a better job on the topic in the near future?