Technology Ethics: An Oxymoron?


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Part of a panel presentation at the New Jersey Writing Alliance annual conference on "Technology & Ethics." This presentation examines why students cheat, why faculty often don't "prosecute" infractions and how technology can and can not prevent occurrences.

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Technology Ethics: An Oxymoron?

  1. 1. Technology Ethics: An Oxymoron? Presented by Ken Ronkowitz Writing Ethics and Technology panel NJ Writing Alliance Annual Conference, Georgian Court University, April 2008.
  2. 3. Protected by Fair Use because of its “transformative” nature
  3. 4. Turnitin Beta <ul><li>“ over 50 million student papers and is projected to grow to over 170 million student papers over the next couple of years. If you use another plagiarism solution that does not have access to this resource, you will be missing at least 62% of all possible problems; this does not even include the other exclusive content that Turnitin searches.” </li></ul>
  4. 5. <ul><li>80% of college-bound students admit to cheating on schoolwork, yet 95% of them never get caught - Who's Who Among American High School Students </li></ul><ul><li>90% of students believe cheaters are either never caught or have never been appropriately disciplined - US News and World Report poll </li></ul><ul><li>Most college professors and students say in surveys that the most likely source of plagiarized material is the Internet. - from an article by Michael DeCourcy Hinds: Mixed Signals on Education </li></ul><ul><li>257 chief student affairs officers across the country believe that colleges and universities have not addressed the cheating problem adequately - from a study by Ronald M. Aaron and Robert T. Georgia: Administrator Perceptions of Student Academic Dishonesty in Collegiate Institutions </li></ul>
  5. 6. <ul><li>Westport, CT A Crystal Rock water bottle is Exhibit A in a campaign to reduce cheating here at Staples High School, a bastion of affluence, academic achievement and unrelenting pressure to succeed. </li></ul><ul><li>The label of the bottle had been peeled off, the history of atomic theory printed on the back and the label restored in preparation for a chemistry test. The test taker hoped for a handy crib sheet — indeed, it was even magnified by the water. </li></ul>Low Tech Cheating
  6. 7. Why Students Cheat and Plagiarize the student view <ul><li>Because they can – surveys show that most will not be caught, making it a fairly low risk, high benefit behavior . </li></ul><ul><li>If caught, their perception is that consequences are minimal, and that the typical faculty response is to ignore it. </li></ul><ul><li>Belief that the work assigned is: too difficult, a waste of time, too easy to cheat on </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone is doing it </li></ul><ul><li>Cheating = better grades, which = entry to better schools, scholarships, fellowships, obtaining and retaining financial aid, jobs </li></ul><ul><li>A way to deal with the unreal expectations of faculty, parents, honors programs </li></ul>
  7. 8. Why Faculty Report Reluctance to Report <ul><li>Prefer to deal with it themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Want to give students benefit of doubt and be “fair” </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t have the time to deal with it using “the system” </li></ul><ul><li>Uncertain of their role: as role models, mentors, but not as “police” </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived lack of support from administration </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t have hard “proof” and obtaining proof takes time </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of legal action by student/family </li></ul>
  8. 9. Student Responses: How They Plagiarize <ul><li>Copy/paste from Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Previously submitted papers (“Greek Method”) </li></ul><ul><li>Unintentionally – copy/paste “notes” during research w/o sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Copying from someone in the course with minor changes. Students may claim that they only “worked together” and so their results were “similar.” Group work, in loosely structured situations, actually fosters plagiarism. </li></ul><ul><li>Free and for-hire online “Paper Mills”,  </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>Uh oh... The Center for Academic Integrity's website is at http://academicintegrity. org   BUT type in   http://academicintegrity. com / and guess what you get... </li></ul>Paper Mills Cheating 101: Paper Mills and You from Coastal Carolina University has an extensive list of paper mill sites at: “provided as a convenience for faculty, in order for them to be aware of the vast variety of resources out on the Internet that are tempting their students.” Of course, it’s also a great site for students... And some are Turnitin-proof These sites have names ranging from http:// / and to the tony sounding The Academic Research Group, Inc but they all deal in the purchase and sale of writing. © Trademark and Copyright Notice: TM and © FOX and its related entities. All rights reserved.
  10. 11. Most Common Hi-Tech Cheating <ul><li>Text, web page, images via cell phone </li></ul><ul><ul><li>transmit info during testing to other participants or accomplice at other location; enter & store data; program information into unit. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hacked exams from faculty computers; intercepted print jobs. </li></ul><ul><li>Assignments, textbook resources etc. found online </li></ul><ul><li>Audio crib notes on player to be listened to during exam. </li></ul>
  11. 13. <ul><li>Open Source Alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>From UC, Santa Barbara </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Copyfind from UVA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http:// </li></ul></ul>Pairwise comparison generally refers to any process of comparing entities in pairs to judge which of each pair is preferred, or has a greater amount of some quantitative property. It’s used in the scientific study of preferences, attitudes, voting systems, social choice, public choice, and multiagent AI systems. In psychology literature, it is often referred to as paired comparison.
  12. 15. <ul><li>At least 50% of all instances of plagiarism by students could be prevented by assignments that are properly designed. </li></ul>Tools like Turnitin are best used for prevention and teaching proper research writing, paraphrasing and citation. Surface web versus “deep web” (dynamic, unlinked, private…) search engines access about 20% You can’t check it all.
  13. 16. <ul><li>Humans are still the final arbiters. </li></ul>Are we ultimately more interested in prevention or detection? Does a honor code assume innocence? Do these detection tools assume guilt?