[EAS]Copycat Students

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Mon May 7 21:51:55 EDT 2001

Subject:   Copycat Students

Dear Colleagues -

.... or plagiarism, by its less gracious and harder to spell name.
Prof. Bloomfield's Web site, currently
<http://rabi.phys.virginia.edu/HTW//>, has been mentioned in these
mailings previously, e.g.
<http://www.yale.edu/engineering/eng-info/msg00189.html>, as has
plagiarism, e.g.
<http://www.yale.edu/engineering/eng-info/msg00813.html>, though in
that instance only as related to Web site content, not the locally
submitted papers to which Prof. Bloomfield applied his program.

These days it must be made very clear to your students when you expect
them to work alone outside of class or office, where you can give them
individual written or oral exams. The collaborative activities which
many students have come to perceive as a source of learning rivalling
the classroom itself are a fast growing phenomenon. In PBS interviews
I have heard students describe what we would call "cheating" and
"plagiarism" as "learning team-work."


(from Edupage, May 7, 2001)

University of Virginia physics professor Louis Bloomfield has
referred 122 students to the university's Honor Committee for
alleged plagiarism after he scanned five semesters' worth of term
papers using a computer program he wrote. "[The program]
compares every possible pair of papers and it looks for every
possible string of six words or more," he explained. Bloomfield
devised the program after noticing repeated submissions of
certain term papers for his introductory "How Things Work"
course. With up to 500 students enrolled in the course each
semester, Bloomfield's program had to scan more than 1800 papers.
Bloomfield said about half of those papers the program detected
had been copied in their entirety. Several of the students who
will face the Honor Committee said their work may have been copied
without their knowledge because they saved it on a PC in one of
the university's open computer labs. The Honor Committee will
review each case, with expulsion the penalty for those found
guilty. (Wired News, 4 May 2001)

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