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Anita18
11-30-2010, 02:54 AM
It can backfire though - infamously, my English major MIL wrote an essay for my husband when he was in high school and studying a book she loved - she asked if she could as she had loved studying in university so much and wanted to see how she'd do. She got a C. :lol:

The other way to keep a check on things is to have students present the papers orally to the class or teacher. Or, just before they are handed in, the teacher could ask students to write a short summary, by hand, on the top page of the paper, covering the major points of their essay.

I'm sure the teachers on FSU have their own thoughts on this, and I'd be interested to hear what they actually do. I'm only going by my own experiences as a student, and later as a manager in the workplace.
The new rotation student jokingly asked me to take a test for her (a test she had been studying for several days at that point) since we looked somewhat alike, and I said, "But I'd fail, and that wouldn't benefit either of us!" :lol:

I like the short summary idea.


Well, I don't get that kind of thing, and I am not told what to do with my classes. However, I have been told that I seem to require an awful lot of work and that students today don't really have the focus required to do such long and involved papers. And that it seems that the point could be made with shorter papers and less research. And that I am wrong to operate from a position of preventing plagiarism because I begin by assuming wrongdoing on the students' part.

But it's not just plagiarism prevention; as you said, part of it is helping them through what is really a complex process that requires a lot of practice. This is particularly true as the quality of research becomes more important; many students are overwhelmed by all the resources available to them now and they need some guidance in working with different materials. In fact, while I talk about plagiarism and do make an issue of it, it's not something that I am deeply concerned about because I don't see a lot of it. I am much more interested in helping them through their research and writing processes than in plagiarism by itself.
When I took design classes at a bona fide art school, what was most interesting to me was that the classes mostly consisted of projects. Three or four was the norm, and you never saw any instructor try to cram in more than six projects in one semester. Each one would typically take a month.

You went head-first into a self-conceived project and had to bring in your work every week to talk about it. Then you went back home and worked on it some more. It wasn't just lecture and talking about how things should look. It involved WORK, and the classes would mostly teach you to put in the hours. There could be no shortcuts - you had to introduce your stuff every week and besides, everyone in class saw the in-progress drafts. I guess you could conceivably BS your way through the drafts, but since there was only that one project which to judge your progress on, all your efforts went into improving it.

Eventually, you'd develop an eye through practice. (The only exception to the project classes was the figure drawing class, where we filled up two sketchbooks with copies from master drawings. There, quantity mattered, and the instructor could tell if you were BSing through it. :lol: )

I probably was educated more in what was pretty much a vocational school than all of high school and most parts of college, when everyone worked on the same project and nobody was truly accountable for what was submitted.

I would think that instead of rote memorization or spewing of class-taught concepts in a paper every week, that putting one's efforts into a few well-accomplished projects would be the way to properly educate a student. After all, real life requires that you work and think well, not be good at regurgitation.


This is the cheating article I was referring to: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/11/17/cheating

Way down there, the article says, "Research on plagiarism suggests that cutting down on cheating depends not only on punishing it when it happens, but also on explicitly staking out expectations about academic conduct."

I find this to be true. There is an assumption that students know what is and is not acceptable, but many of them don't--hence the plagiarism test my students have to take. We do three exercises before they take the test and I have learned from doing this that students have only the vaguest idea what plagiarism really is.
I also don't think that many students are of the "everyone cheats so there's nothing wrong with it" mentality. They just don't know why plagiarism is wrong, in the world of the Internet and where copying and pasting without citing sources is pretty rampant.

OTOH, I'm not sure what it says about me that I don't think the example cited in the article was really that bad. :shuffle: Desperate students eager to work will find any remotely related study guides to work from. It wasn't like someone broke into the professor's office and stole a copy of the exam to pass around. They inadvertently cheated, and I do think someone should have at least emailed the professor afterwards if they didn't want to raise the issue during the exam.

My college chemistry professors readily provided exams from previous semesters to study from, so it's pretty much expected that they'd have to write new ones every time. I also saw old exams that were kept by students from the previous years, so maybe that's why everyone decided to lay it all out since you can't stop students from doing that. :lol: It was probably also the culture too, since I guess it would also be possible to recollect the exams after passing the grades out...

Allen
11-30-2010, 02:59 AM
Years ago when I worked in the writing center during my first year of grad school, a student came in with a suspiciously good paper. I asked him what he would like to work on and he actually said, "well, I bought this paper and I need you to help me make it look like it's my original work." I was flabbergasted and I did undergrad and graduate work at institutions with reputations of very entitled students, so I should have been used to it. When I told him that I was not comfortable with that, he actually told me that he was going to have his parents talk to the director of the English program about my attitude :rolleyes:

I run every paper my students submit through Turn It In, that has scared most of them enough to get them to do their own work.

Prancer
11-30-2010, 03:34 AM
I would think that instead of rote memorization or spewing of class-taught concepts in a paper every week, that putting one's efforts into a few well-accomplished projects would be the way to properly educate a student. After all, real life requires that you work and think well, not be good at regurgitation.

I agree in general and think lecture is a pretty poor way to teach anything, but projects are not always practical. If you have X amount of material to cover in a class in Y number of hours, sometimes the most efficient way to teach is lecture, simply because of how much you can get done that way.

Also, projects, particularly individual projects, work best with small classes. If you have a class with hundreds of students, you can't do projects; you lecture and give Scantron exams because anything else would be impractical.

My classes usually run somewhere between five and 15 students. I get to know them really well. I know who is stressing out and who isn't, and who is on top of the work and who isn't, and who is cutting every corner possible and who isn't, and who is genuinely interested in his project and who isn't. I have a pretty good idea of how each student writes and what issues each struggles with. But that kind of thing isn't possible with big classes or with a really heavy teaching load.

One of my friends teaches NINE sections of English with 50 students per section every semester. Of course she doesn't do a close reading of the papers or check their sources or spend time helping them develop a research plan. A student can get anything past her and she knows it. She has pointed this out to admin where she teaches and has learned that no one cares if the students are learning anything or not. The goal is to get them out the door with a degree in hand.


OTOH, I'm not sure what it says about me that I don't think the example cited in the article was really that bad. :shuffle:

I don't, either, at least not the incident itself, and I am kind of sympathetic to the students' arguments. But some of the students' reactions to the university's response is :eek:.

My exams, when I give them, are all open book, open note, work with a partner, whatever you want to do. All of the questions are about the students' individual projects, so they can't copy anyone else, and I don't have the slightest problem with them discussing questions with other students first. Why not? That's part of learning and at my orientation, they told us that we were supposed to design exams that were not just assessment tools but also learning experiences for the students, something I've never forgotten. But again, I can do things like that. It's neither practical nor particularly effective to do that in a lot of classes.

Anita18
11-30-2010, 03:44 AM
I agree in general and think lecture is a pretty poor way to teach anything, but projects are not always practical. If you have X amount of material to cover in a class in Y number of hours, sometimes the most efficient way to teach is lecture, simply because of how much you can get done that way.

Also, projects, particularly individual projects, work best with small classes. If you have a class with hundreds of students, you can't do projects; you lecture and give Scantron exams because anything else would be impractical.

My classes usually run somewhere between five and 15 students. I get to know them really well. I know who is stressing out and who isn't, and who is on top of the work and who isn't, and who is cutting every corner possible and who isn't, and who is genuinely interested in his project and who isn't. I have a pretty good idea of how each student writes and what issues each struggles with. But that kind of thing isn't possible with big classes or with a really heavy teaching load.

One of my friends teaches NINE sections of English with 50 students per section every semester. Of course she doesn't do a close reading of the papers or check their sources or spend time helping them develop a research plan. A student can get anything past her and she knows it. She has pointed this out to admin where she teaches and has learned that no one cares if the students are learning anything or not. The goal is to get them out the door with a degree in hand.
Oh, for sure. Individual, well-thought out projects would be impossible at the intro university level, where there are hundreds of students. Ugh I can't imagine, I'm so glad I went to a small school. My sister went to a large uni, but majored in one of the smaller program where she could form close relationships with her professors.

I can't imagine how a degree farm like a large uni can truly care about each individual students' education. They can't.


I don't, either, at least not the incident itself, and I am kind of sympathetic to the students' arguments. But some of the students' reactions to the university's response is :eek:.
True, true. The reactions are always :huh: and :wall:.

jlai
11-30-2010, 05:05 AM
I probably was educated more in what was pretty much a vocational school than all of high school and most parts of college, when everyone worked on the same project and nobody was truly accountable for what was submitted.

I would think that instead of rote memorization or spewing of class-taught concepts in a paper every week, that putting one's efforts into a few well-accomplished projects would be the way to properly educate a student. After all, real life requires that you work and think well, not be good at regurgitation.

IMHO, universities have over-expanded and over-specialized, and quite a few subjects that shouldn't be taught in the conventional academic model get covered by Univs. In fact, every thing under the sun has a univ program now, and even dance students have to write papers. :rolleyes:

There are times I wish I attended a vocational program at a junior college instead.

ETA: Even NCATE is calling for a reform to teachers education to make it more clinic-centered (ie less theoretical): http://www.ncate.org/Public/Newsroom/NCATENewsPressReleases/tabid/669/EntryId/125/Panel-Calls-for-Turning-Teacher-Education-Upside-Down-Centering-Curricula-around-Classroom-Ready-Training-and-Increasing-Oversight-and-Expectations.aspx

I'm that optimistic about sweeping reforms at univs, but glad to see suggestions for changes coming

Japanfan
11-30-2010, 11:15 AM
I edit academic essays and work as a writing coach and I could never, never do what this guy does. Certainly there is a demand for essay ghost writers and I can even understand why some students use those services, but I could never do it. I always say that it not my job to do people's homework for them and I'm only interested in working with people who want to participate in their education.

$66,000 a year is a whole lot more money than I make but I could never crank out four to five pages per hour or 75 pages in two day. And I wouldn't want to.

Aside from the fact that you are participating in and endorsing academic dishonesty and fostering stupidity among the next generation, ghost-writing essays would be completely purposeless and unrewarding. You would spend hours alone at your computer doing research and exercising the craft of writing, but the only reward would be money, and at the end of the day, that is sure not enough, at least for me. The student would probably not bother to read the paper and you'd never receive the professor's feedback. There would be no acknowledgment of your hard work, your craft or your knowledge.

The rewards I get from editing include much appreciation of my craft and skill and that means a lot to me. I'm a perfectionist and it is really helpful to work for people who want and appreciate perfection. I find it particularly rewarding to work with graduate students and professors, who are already advanced in their discipline and writing for publication. And I meet some very bright young students and get to teach them not only about writing, but also about all sorts of stuffs pertinent to their discipline or particular subject, which can be fun. And it's a pleasure to work with those who progress to graduate school and prepare for a career they are inspired to pursue. There's a real sense of purpose to that.

Probably I get paid more a hour than this hack does, but I don't put in anywhere near as many hours.

I would lose my mind quickly ghost-writing essays. I'd rather deliver flyers door-to-door or sell vacuum cleaning services on the phone.

And I wonder what this dude says when people ask him what he does for a living?

Prancer
11-30-2010, 12:18 PM
This is a similar article, but an older (and better) one, written in the mid-90s.

http://www.eacfaculty.org/pchidester/Eng%20102f/Plagiarism/This%20Pen%20for%20Hire.pdf

It's amazing how little has changed.

I know someone who was doing this same work in the 70s. Not so many international students then, but still plenty of people looking for a ghostwriter.

Anita18
11-30-2010, 08:41 PM
$66,000 a year is a whole lot more money than I make but I could never crank out four to five pages per hour or 75 pages in two day. And I wouldn't want to.

Aside from the fact that you are participating in and endorsing academic dishonesty and fostering stupidity among the next generation, ghost-writing essays would be completely purposeless and unrewarding. You would spend hours alone at your computer doing research and exercising the craft of writing, but the only reward would be money, and at the end of the day, that is sure not enough, at least for me. The student would probably not bother to read the paper and you'd never receive the professor's feedback. There would be no acknowledgment of your hard work, your craft or your knowledge.
It's amazing what some people can do. My sister used to write 10-page papers in a few hours in front of the TV. (Hilariously, she preferred to write the first draft in green magic marker on a legal pad. :rofl: ) She could probably do a ghostwriter job pretty well, but she values her free time too much to be a hired pen. That and for the reasons you listed. :)

Jenny
11-30-2010, 08:58 PM
Aside from the fact that you are participating in and endorsing academic dishonesty and fostering stupidity among the next generation, ghost-writing essays would be completely purposeless and unrewarding. You would spend hours alone at your computer doing research and exercising the craft of writing, but the only reward would be money, and at the end of the day, that is sure not enough, at least for me. The student would probably not bother to read the paper and you'd never receive the professor's feedback. There would be no acknowledgment of your hard work, your craft or your knowledge.

Maybe for some, but not for others. There are people who love to do research (I'm one of them), and who write to help themselves formulate their own thoughts, not necessarily for the benefit of others. (Think of diarists who have no intention of ever publishing or even getting feedback, but do it nonetheless.) Plus, it's a living - if you enjoy the work, are happy with the work environment (which for me at least makes a huge difference) and are paid accordingly, then you're way ahead of so many whose jobs make them unhappy.

And not anyone needs acknowledgment for their work and knowledge - just last night I finished the Sunday NY Times crossword in just over an hour - until this minute I hadn't intended to tell anyone, but I was quite pleased with myself when I did it :)