View Full Version : Project Cheating

Mel Siff
04-02-2002, 01:46 PM
For those of you who teach classes in any sport related topic area, you may
want to become aware of the website that someone else brought to the
attention of the Sportpsych list recently.

This is a site that specifically targets students in sport and physical
education related disciplines for the sale of term papers. Click on the link
provided below and then click on the "Paper List" link for a listing of topic

Many academics have been aware of this "professional" assistance being sold
to students over the Internet and that is why software has been and is being
developed to carry out forensic tests and linguistic analyses simply and
easily for anyone in the teaching profession. This sort of textual analysis
has been used in archaeological, linguistic and literary circles for many
years to identify the authors of religious, artistic, legal and other
material, as well as forgeries and plagiarism. Now, with the enormous
growth in the power of modern personal computers, this technology is now
becoming available at reasonable cost to the public.

Thus, as it becomes even more available, all schools and universities should
make this sort of software standard issue to all staff. Then, students need
to be awarded ZERO for any project which has been produced by commercial
project repositories and even expelled from any educational institutions for
any repeated use of this different, but equally heinous, form of cheating.

I discussed this issue several months ago on the Supertraining list and seem
to think that I even offered information on special plagiarism/forensic
software to assist teachers in detecting literary cheats at school and
university. Anyway, now that this topic has reared its ugly head, let's
discuss ways of countering this type of student cheating and indolence again.

Some of the ways which I have used during my 30+ years in teaching appear
below - any other suggestions are welcome:

1.. Conduct oral examinations on the term papers or projects

2. Have students submit the project in specific stages: Project Proposal,
Project Outline, Literature Review,
Draft Report (cross evaluated by other students) - then the Final Report.

3. Conduct open book examinations in class

4. Have students do a 3-5 minute oral "executive summary" of those projects
before the class. Students
to be called upon at random for different projects throughout the year.

5. Have small student syndicate teams write different parts of a major
project (and sometimes examine them orally and separately).

6. Have students teach short modules of courses.

7. Have students regularly visit you during set hours for discussion of work
and any work-related problems.

8. Teach them what the difference is between a "literature review" and "cut
and paste" (collage) plagiarism of snippets cut from several web pages.
Although this is obvious, far too many teachers do not realise that many
students think that "collages" of web extracts are legitimate forms of
literature review.

9. Insist that all projects carry a proper "reference" section at the end -
then randomly check some of the references that are provided. Students often
simply paste in collections of references "lifted" from academic papers, but
never look at those papers.

Lest anyone comment that such methods are not possible in large classes, let
me add that I taught middle school, high school and all years of university
education (as well as so-called "gifted children"), with my smallest class
being about 25 and all of my university classes being over 75 students (right
up to final year) - and managed to use these methods very successfully. Of
course, it means a great deal of "homework" and endless marking for teacher,
but this really is worth it if you wish to weed out the lazy and uncommitted,
and produce graduates of a really high quality. If you have any teaching
assistants, then this can make your task a bit easier. Students soon
recognise you as a teacher who tolerates no nonsense and cheating, especially
if you happen to be working in an institution which stands fully behind you
and encourages excellence. They also appreciate that you are genuinely
concerned about helping them become the best that they possibly can be.

Finally, if anyone comes across any software which can detect plagiarism,
please share them here to help all teachers on our list.

Dr Mel C Siff
Denver, USA

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