Cheating

In yesterday’s Underground Back Channel post, I wrote:

Because students are engaging in forbidden activity these conversations are underground. Well, the smart ones. Some are having these conversations on Twitter where one party of the conversation is not private and anyone (like a nosy DBA like myself) can see it. If they are used to quasi-cheating, does real cheating become easier? That might explain much of what I see.

I decided to write more about this.

Back in July, I ran across posts on Twitter where a student claimed another named (Twitter account) classmate provided the answers to a test. The moral was: “Students who cheat together will not repeat together.” A few days later the student bragged this activity happened the previous term as well. Then the student asked the classmate whether the next test was taken, presumably so they could cheat again. We handed the information over to the institution. I have not heard whether disciplinary action was taken against the students.

At the time, I attributed the students writing about the cheating similar to hubris in the Congressman Weiner scandal. It may also point to a lack of understanding about privacy online. Hard to know what was running through their heads at the time other than what they are willing to say or write which will be biased.

The NYU Prof Vows Never to Probe Cheating Again story hit the week after the initial detection. Pursuing the cheaters hurt his evaluations. The advice of plagiarism detection tools is to use them for teaching students what is correct behavior not as punitive evidence.

But then I ran across Classroom Ethics 101. The student experiment points to students being very willing to take an early look at test questions and answers (69%) even when given a notice it might be cheating (41%). Ariely does not think the actual cheating was very much as on the final exam few made 90% scores. The experiment is similar to the UCF cheating scandal where 1/3 of the 600 students were thought to have cheated.

Occasionally we, those running the LMS, get a request to look at the Mail tool messages or Chat conversations between students in a class to see who are trying to share answers. So far none have. The professors fear the students are using private communication tools to cheat. Maybe they are smart enough to use Facebook where we do not have the data.

Cheating is happening. The activity is underground except where students make a mistake. Professors have plenty of tools to help them detect it. Maybe as analytics become more widespread, they will be used to identify more cheating, though perhaps it should come from deans or academic affairs or student judiciary not the professor.

Underground Back Channels

During first couple years at my first real job post-college, a friend of a friend would IM me questions about how to solve computer problems for which he could not figure out the answers. These requests started as me doing the work for him with dubious promises of doing the same for me. (I knew he’d gotten a job over his head and making 2.3x more than me. I also knew he did not know anything about my work and could not help me.) When I did not bite to do this, he shifted to giving him the answers and settled for all that I was willing to do: point him in the right direction. Having worked in a library, pointing patrons and friends in the right direction was something I was used to doing.

This conversation was not officially sanctioned by either of our employers. Neither of us told our bosses about these conversations. Was I leaking the intellectual capital of my employer? Was this friend of a friend leaking his employer’s intellectual capital to me? In any case, it would probably be considered an underground interaction. My boss at the time encouraged my professional participation on web technology email lists as helping others with my knowledge and experience gave me access to others who could do the same. The difference was the lists were sanctioned while the friend of a friend was not no matter how similar.

The Learning Black Market suggests students today use Facebook as a private back channel to classmates for pointers in the right direction on how to work on class assignments. They also secretly use Wikipedia despite it being forbidden as a source. When I was a student, the same sort of back channel activity for pointers would happen but face-to-face in the hallway was the preferred place not Facebook. Instead of Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica was the preferred first source. (Gosh, I am old.) Just like students today are told Wikipedia is not an allowable reference and not to ever use it yet they do anyway, EB was not an allowable reference and yet I saw my classmates using it to figure out terms that would help them find allowable references. Students today sometimes use Wikipedia for the same reason.

Educators want the students to take their time and deliberately work through the assignments the hard way so they learn the most through the process. Students want to get the assignment done in the least amount of time while still making a good grade. Educators lack the oversight to force students to behave except to detect plagiarism or cheating in the produced artifacts.

Because students are engaging in forbidden activity these conversations are underground. Well, the smart ones. Some are having these conversations on Twitter where one party of the conversation is not private and anyone (like a nosy DBA like myself) can see it. If they are used to quasi-cheating, does real cheating become easier? That might explain much of what I see.

Turnitin.com

I’m surprised I have not blogged here about the student lawsuit against Turnitin.com? An anti-plagiarism service, Turnitin has students or faculty members upload papers into the database. By comparing new papers to the database, it gives ratings as to whether it is likely a student plagiarized.

Now the search goes out for any student who has a paper that’s being held by TurnItIn that they did not upload themselves. Students Settle with TurnItIn

In theory I could be someone in this situation. Back in 2005, a coworker asked my mother if someone by my name was related to her. This coworker was taking some classes at the university I attended. Turnitin had threw up a cautionary flag on the Originality Report because it was somewhat similar to something with my name on it. The problem is this product came into use at the university after the time I was a student. So I never submitted anything to it. The department from which I got my degree kept a copy of my papers (many submitted by email) and used this product at the time.

Another possibility is this tidbit about the product: Over 11 Billion Web Pages Crawled & Archived. I was actively blogging before and at the time of the incident. Assuming it could identify my name out of all that content, this match could have come from my blogging.

When I contacted Turnitin about this back in 2005, they told me I would have to remove my paper. I re-explained that I didn’t submit the paper. So Turnitin explained that whoever did put the paper in the system would have to remove it. The guy acknowledged the difficulty of the situation in identifying who posted it.

Quotes to Make You Think

These also make great signature files! Additional collected quotes are under the blog’s quotes category. Drop a comment to suggest something.

Organized alphabetically by first major word.

Anonymous/Unknown Author

A

Accomplishing the impossible means only the boss will add it to your regular duties.

According to my calculations, the problem doesn’t exist.

Adult: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and has started growing in the middle.

Advice is free: The right answer will cost plenty.

After all is said and done, more is said than done.

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the flame of a single candle.

Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Always remember that you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

Always try to be modest. And be darn proud of it!

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

B

Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing.

Blessed are the pessimistic for they hath made backups.

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.

C

Children may close their ears to advice, but they keep their eyes open to example.

A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.

Cleaning the house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it’s stopped snowing.

A clear conscience is a sign of a bad memory.

A company is known by the people it keeps.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Confidence is the feeling you sometimes have before you fully understand the situation.

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

The customer is always right but not always pleasant.

D

Don’t be irreplaceable; if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

Don’t hate yourself in the morning – sleep till noon.

Duct tape is a lot like the Force. It has a Dark Side, it has a Light Side, and it binds the galaxy together…

E

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Endeavor to so live that when you die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

Every time I think I’ve hit the bottom, someone lends me a shovel.

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lessons afterward.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

F

Few women admit their age, Fewer men act it!

A filing cabinet is where papers get lost alphabetically.

Four-word story of failure: Hired, tired, mired, fired.

G

Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.

Go the extra mile. It makes your boss look like a slacker.

A good test for conversation: if you wouldn’t write it and sign your name to it, don’t say it.

Good resolutions are often checks drawn on an account with insufficient funds.

The great essentials of happiness are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.

H

Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off NOW.

The Haves and the have-nots can often be traced back to the Dids and the Did-Nots.

The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.

How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand….

I

I don’t exaggerate. I just remember bigger than most people.

I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it!

I have a mind like a steel trap – rusted open.

I haven’t lost my mind. It’s backed up on tape somewhere.

I pretend to work. They pretend to pay me.

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

If at first you don’t succeed, give up, no use being a damn fool.

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

If both of us thought alike, one of us would not be necessary.

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?

IF Pro is the Opposite of Con, What Is The Opposite of Progress? Congress!!

If you’re going in the wrong direction, God allows u-turns.

If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to… expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

If you don’t learn from your mistakes, what’s the point of making them?

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

If you were somebody else, would you want to be friends with you?

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

It has been determined that research causes cancer in rats.

It is harder to conceal ignorance than to acquire knowledge.

It is when we forget ourselves that we do things that are most likely to be remembered.

It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.

It will do no good to get on the right track if you are headed in the wrong direction.

J

Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

K

Keep your ideals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you.

L

Language is a wonderful thing. It can be used to express our thoughts, to conceal our thoughts, or to replace thinking.

Laugh alone and the world thinks you’re an idiot.

Leaders go down in history — some farther down than others.

Leadership has been defined as the ability to hide your panic from others.

Life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100% mortality rate.

Life is complex: part real, part imaginary.

Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

M

Many people quit looking for work when they find a job.

The measure of man’s real character is what he would do it he knew he would never get caught.

The mistake a lot of politicians make is forgetting they’ve been appointed and thinking they’ve been anointed.

The more people I meet, the more I like my cat.

The more you know, the more you know you ought to know.

N

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

No matter how far money goes, it still can’t go as far as the next paycheck.

No matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back.

No one is listening until you make a mistake.

O

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.

One of the mysteries of life is how the boy who wasn’t considered good enough to marry the daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.

One reason folks get into trouble is that trouble usually starts out being fun.

One trouble with the world is that so many people who stand up vigorously for their rights fall down miserably on their duties.

The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you’re in the bathroom.

P

People who do the world’s real work don’t usually wear neckties.

People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first.

Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Practice makes perfect, so be careful what you practice.

A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.

The quickest way to get a lot of undivided attention is to make a mistake.

People who wonder where the younger generation is headed for would do well to consider where it came from.

The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

Q

R

The really productive ups and downs are getting up in the morning and down to work.

The reason we never see ourselves as others see us is that we’d never believe what we saw.

A reckless driver is a person who passes you on the highway in spite of all you can do.

S

Save time… see it my way.

Some people get lost in thought because it’s unfamiliar territory.

Some people spend the first six days of each week sowing wild oats; then go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.

A sure-fire formula for making a good speech: have a good beginning and a good ending–and keep them as close together as possible.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

A synonym is a word you use in place of one you can’t spell.

T

Tact is the ability to close your mouth before somebody else wants to.

There can’t be a crisis today, my schedule is already full.

There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.

There is nothing so comforting as the patter of little children’s feet about a home, because the moment the sound stops one knows that they are up to something they shouldn’t be.

There is nothing that upsets a person quite as much as having company drop in and see the house looking as it usually does.

There needs to be fewer Republican Senators and fewer Democratic Senators, and many more United States Senators.

Thinking is when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself.

This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.

Those who complain about the way the ball bounces are usually the ones who dropped it.

Time may be a great healer, but it certainly is no beauty operator.

Trains stop at train stations
Buses stop at bus stations
On my desk is a workstation.

A true friend is one who thinks you’re a good egg even though you’re slightly cracked.

U

Usually I try to take it one day at a time, but lately several have attacked me at once…

V

W

Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

What most people want these days is less to do, more time to do it, and more pay for not getting it done.

When adults act like children, they are called silly. When children act like adults, they are called delinquent.

When computing, whatever happens, behave as though you meant it to happen.

When our children are old enough not to say or do anything in public to disgrace us, they have reached an age when the things we do and say embarrass them.

A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, a fool by his own.

Why is ‘abbreviation’ such a long word?

Wild horses couldn’t drag a secret out of most women. Unfortunately, women seldom have lunch with wild horses.

With every right, there is a responsibility. Just once, I wish someone would demand his responsibility.

A woman wants one man to meet her every need. A man wants every woman to meet his one need.

A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item she doesn’t want. A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he DOES want.

Work is the easiest thing man has ever invented to escape boredom.

Work like you don’t need money,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
And dance like no one’s watching.

X

Y

Years wrinkle the skin, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

You are only young once. After that, you have to think up some other excuse.

You can’t keep people from having bad opinions about you, but you can keep them from being true.

You cannot build a reputation on the things you are going to do.

You cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

You only live once, but if you live right, once is enough.

Z

Misc.

Comment from a correspondent in Australia on the U.S. political scene: “Thank God you got the Puritans while we only got the convicts.”