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RE: [xmca] The Shadow Scholar - He writes your students' papers.

Hi All, 

My two cents on this topic (and my first XMCA post). 

The underlying issue in cases of student plagiarism is often not plagiarism or a need for remedial "fixing" of student writing - I think I've seen the "deficient" argument come up on XMCA in a different context. It's more of a developmental issue involving students, teachers and markers working out, or reaching some kind of agreement on, "how things are done" (research and writing-wise) in a particular disciplinary context. 

I think Turnitin isn't bad as an educational tool, but the green-amber-red highlighting of low-medium-high text-matching percentages makes it look more of a way to shock students into compliance with unwritten disciplinary rules. 

One way I've seen Turnitin used is that students have to submit a Turnitin report with their paper showing that their match is less than 10%. Apart from being a waste of paper it sends these messages: 
1. Turnitin does the job of checking for plagiarism (as opposed to the time-poor marker)
2. students can avoid "plagiarism" by adjusting the bits that are highlighted in Turnitin. 


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Karen Heckert
Sent: Tuesday, 11 January 2011 5:25 AM
To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
Subject: Re: [xmca] The Shadow Scholar - He writes your students' papers.

I'd like to make two further observations:

I haven't read Engstrom's article, but I do want to stress this. You've got to 
know your students personally. First, if you know the student and how he/she 
normally writes, you will be able to catch any anomalies, like a paper obviously 
plagiarised or ghost-written. More importantly, you will be able to identify the 
type of student who is at risk and liable to resort to this sort of cheating. 
Most schools have remedial services that can help, but the student has to be 
aware and able to use them. Our elementary and secondary educational systems are 
so broken that we can expect many students to arrive in college without knowing 
how to write a lucid sentence. In many cases, the people who taught them English 
couldn't tell one tense from another either.

Secondly, how can we complain when "legal" plagiarism is rampant in university 
departments. How many times does the grad student do all the work of collecting 
the data, crunching the numbers, and writing the paper, only to have the 
"advising" professor put his name first when the paper is submitted for 
publication. Isn't this theft? Isn't this an invitation to cynicism? If the 
professor has advised or otherwise had some real input, then of course they 
should receive the recognition, but not as first author if they didn't do the 
great majority of the work.

So it isn't just the wayward students who are to blame. There's a whole culture 
of dishonesty out there, and it starts at the top.

From: Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Mon, January 10, 2011 8:50:02 AM
Subject: Re: [xmca] FW: The Shadow Scholar - He writes your students' papers.

I don't want to take a position on this topic, but was curious about what
seems a contradiction between issues of "control and trust" in a manner
similar to Engstrom's article on the use of technology in middle schools and
putting computers in the hallway.  I wonder if the concepts  "control" and
"trust" are primary or basic constructs when discussing institutional
structures or containers.  I was wondering when reading Engstrom's article
if the terms control and trust were explanatory terms within  2nd person
actor narratives or if Engstrom abstracted these terms as explanatory 3rd
person narratives of what he observed in the middle school environment.  Do
others see a contradiction or tension in the discussion of plagarism or is
it a clear case of civic virtue?

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