The sale of Essays on Ebay

The sale of Essays on Ebay

Originally uploaded by Dave Foord

A discussion has been started on a mailing list that I am on, asking if we as educators should be using plagiarism detection systems such as TurnItIn knowing that not everything gets picked up, and some people are learning ways to ‘trick’ the system.

To me one of the strongest reasons is the sale of essays on eBay – this is completely legal, no one is breaking any laws here, but I am concerned that looking at the sample highlighted here there are teachers, lawyers, midwifes and nurses out there potentially buying their qualifications…. Click on the image to view it within Flickr, which has some notes detailing the titles of the ‘sales’ on top of it.

3 Responses

  1. I work in a large university, intake of over 1,000 students per year on various business courses. Some first year modules are common to all 1,000 students. To analyse ONE Turnitin assignment, takes X minutes. Even with 5 tutors on the module, 1,000 Turnitin analysis reports, there is a considerable time element in reviewing these students’ work in terms of ‘originality’. We also need to mark and grade the work ourselves (why doesn’t Turnitin do that for us?), and what is the educational value of this time spent reading these reports?

    Instead of spending time on finding fault with the students, we should put more effort into educating them, developing academic skills, and using peer pressure to deter plagiarism.

    If I asked you what an opera singer sounded like, your first response would be to imitate one you had heard. La La La la la la la. First year students imitate tutors, as they do not know enough about the subject themselves. If a Tutor cites Belenkinsopp’s theory of gubbins, the student will cite it too. Citation does not infer understanding of the theory.

    They are trying to learn, not trying to cheat. When we tar all students with the same brush as the minority of ne’er do wells, we damage the studen-tutor relationship.

    Turnitin is like a lie-detector test. ‘I believe the assignment you gave me is genuine, but can you submit it to this test or I will give you a Zero’

    Turnitin should be used by students (for self development) and quality controllers for statistical records. It should not be used to cover Tutors who set assignments on regurgitation rather than enquiry based development.

    Well, that should set the ball rolling…;-)

  2. […] This stops the work being handed down to next years students, as well as hopefully reducing the sale of essays on eBay which I blogged about previously. It also means that if someone has copied work from behind a […]

  3. Interesting thoughts Chris. I agree with a lot of your sentiments. Plagiarism can often be a symptom of poor assessment strategies. There will always be an element of cat and mouse between assessors and students and the onus is on us to be creative with assessments.
    That can be hard such as with big classes but in this case the problem is big classes and not enough teachers.

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