the Honor Code into cyberspace
the days of the Internet, new strategies are needed to wrestle
with plagiarism and cheating, agreed faculty members, with some
favoring a strong-arm approach and others advocating more dialogue
about the importance of honesty.
strategies work best, however, was debated by professors and instructors
at a meeting on Sept. 7, sponsored by the Teaching
Resource Center. While two leaders from the center walked
back and forth in the front of the room, a small group of teachers
clustered in several rows exchanging ideas.
McAllister, history lecturer and faculty consultant at the Teaching
Resource Center, presented an array of national statistics showing
what percentage of students would cheat under what circumstances.
He suggested broaching the topic directly with the students, because
cheating increases when there is a perception that the instructor
does not care.
the honor system there is a perception that you shouldnt
talk about cheating because it impugns the integrity of the students,
he said, noting that statistically schools with honor codes did
better combating cheating.
professor Jonathan Haidt cautioned that populations are not governed
by what they know to be true in the abstract. He said with situational
ethics, people will come up with reasons to justify what they
McAllister asked if there is an acceptable level of cheating,
Haidt suggested be between 1 and 4 percent, so cheating would
not be considered the norm, making it unattractive to people.
instructor said he was less concerned about students who cheated
to get a D grade than he was about one who cheated to get an A.
Haidt suggested that teachers appeal to the students nobler
motives, such as explaining that they are in school to learn,
not get grades.
instructors were asked to write down or devise their own policy.
Otto Freisen, former chair of the biology department, said his
standard was that students use no more than three of someone elses
words in a sequence when writing a paper without quotations. He
said students are limited to two quotes per paper.
Barnett, a French
professor and director of the Teaching Resource Center, said she
had operated on the assumption that quotes should be put inside
quotation marks and that the students had learned this before
they came to her class.
teacher John Stagg said he was concerned about the Internet, since
it made so much more information available to the students. He
said in the past, he could generally pick out plagiarism because
he was familiar with many of the books in the field, but with
an explosion of sources, this has gotten harder.
said he had uncovered some plagiarism by entering key words from
the papers into a search engine and finding the site from which
students took material. He suggested that ITC monitor the Web
sites students access. Computer instructor Thomas Horton said
the University did not have the technology to monitor or log the
Web sites students were using and another instructor said that
smacked too much of Big Brother.
suggested that instead of working on how to catch cheaters, instructors
should make a plain statement on cheating and publicize it, then
design the course to make it harder to cheat. She said teachers
should raise awareness of why intellectual honesty is important,
especially in an era when politicians can be caught in lies without
any apparent consequences. She said bringing it up in person with
students is more effective than issuing a written statement or
asking them to sign a pledge.
suggested having students write several paragraphs in class to
be used as a comparison against papers that are turned in later.
should broach the topic directly with students, because
cheating increaases when there is a perception that the
instructor does not care.
Teaching Resource Center
of the teachers were concerned about the difference between a
500-student class and 20-student class, feeling that students
in larger classes could take advantage of a degree of anonymity.
said he uses Measure of Software Similarity (MOSS), a computer
program that can detect shared programs, in his computer science
courses. He tells students about the program, which Barnett said
fits the idea of making the deterrent public.
teacher at the McIntire
Commerce School said the policy there is that any infractions
of the Honor Code will be turned over to the committee, with the
idea that even if a student is found not guilty in a trial, the
experience itself will be painful enough to act as a deterrent.
Hall, chair of the Honor Committee, suggested that instructors
have clear expectations and be explicit in their beliefs, because
students take cues from their teachers. He said teachers need
to keep an eye open for students in danger of failing and give
them more support, such as directing them to a teaching assistant
and the Writing Center.
said some changes have been made in the trial process so it is
less confrontational, with discipline for misbehaving counsel.
He said the process has been speeded up.
teachers were also concerned about the single-sanction nature
of the Honor Code, under which students convicted of an infraction
of the code are expelled. Its the death penalty,
one instructor intoned, adding that the severity of the punishment
discourages some teachers and other students from reporting incidents.
said that while there is steady complaint about the single sanction,
the last time there was a referendum on the Honor Code, 65 percent
of the voting students supported the expulsion sanction. At the
same time, students admit they are reluctant to turn in other
students because of the single sanction.