Any formal theorists out there who could make up a quick model to help me determine whether it's in my best interest to report plagiarists? It seems like all it does is lower my evaluation scores and cause administrators to scrutinize my teaching. It seems that it's in my self-interest to defect on this one...you know, sort of a classic example of some kinda dilemma.
Plagiarism and Formal Theory(13 posts) (3 voices)
^ ****, you report plagiarists after the course is over and the final evals are done.
I do it because few things in this job get me more satisfaction. Smug little **** cheaters.
Anon is a grad student.
If you feel that plagiarism really is a big deal then just wait until you get tenure, which presumably you do not have. As an assistant, I went out of my way to catch students and then let them know I was doing them a big favor by not failing them nor reporting them. I am fairly sure I received glowing evaluations from these students. So, you can make plagiarism work in your favor rather than having it lower your evaluations or turn into a bureaucratic nightmare.
Now that I am tenured, I have a policy that any plagiarism leads to automatic failure of the class. This has the added benefit of cutting down on grading, as I catch several each semester.
Also, depending on your school (class sizes, etc.), word gets around. Once you catch a few cheaters and report them, this will be known, especially if those students are frat guys, sorority girls, etc. So, OP, if you think of it as a repeated kinda thingy, you may realize that it's perfectly rational to go through the process.
As everybody knows, formal theorists can't help anybody with anything. As for your dilemma, it depends entirely on how your campus handles the issue. I've worked places with great honor systems, where you report the violation and the student gets punished. Other places, the process so onerous that faculty are implicitly encouraged not to bother. It might come as little surprise that, in my experience, the more prestigious the school, the better the process.
I actually worked at one place that told faculty they had to go through the system, and if the student was convicted, the professor could give the student a 0 on the assignment. Until then, I naively thought that, as the professor, I could give the student a 0 without anybody else's permission -- and that if they were convicted by the honor board there'd be an actual punishment. This, it seems clear to me, is the admin telling the faculty not to charge people with plagiarism.
Definitely depends on the school, and it is a moving target. For a while the "students are our customers and we mustn't hurt their precious self-esteem, particularly if their parents are lawyers" mode prevailed. But then there were a couple of cases (sorry, don't remember details) where places got into trouble (or potential trouble) after individuals had gone through the system with numerous violations, and then were hired and turned out to engage in criminal behavior, etc, and consequently at least some schools started worrying that *not* enforcing rules could also get them into trouble. So at my school, there was a major change in attitude -- towards enforcement, and keeping systematic records on multiple offenders -- about five years ago.
Talk to someone more senior in the department and see what the situation is.
zzz makes a good point. Develop a reputation for being a hard-**** in various ways (cheating, attendance, grading, etc) and it will generally cause the slackers to stay away from your classes--as long as you're a reasonably good teacher, anyway.
I always figure that plagiarism is explicitly defined as being a violation of course rules in my syllabus, so I can give a student a 0 on any assignment by defining plagiarism as a violation of the rules of the assignment regardless of what any honor council says.
Definitely not in the interest of untenured faculty to pursue these cases. I landed at a top SLAC that told incoming faculty how seriously they take the issue and how they give faculty 100% leeway in how to deal with it.
I took them at their word and ended up having to spend a great deal of time with administration defending my decisions, even though the student had turned in a wikipedia entry as his paper. Worse still, in two cases the students fought back claiming that it was my teaching methods that caused them to cheat. I actually had to defend myself against these claims and they came up in discussions when I was up for tenure.
I took a job at a top 50 R1 where I don't even worry about it and just do my research.
Like the above posters it depends on the institution.
At my previous university I had the fun experience of having to fail 4 students in a class of 11 for some of the most egregious plagiarism I've ever seen. All friends with each other and all from the same country... So I fail them and what do I find? Those same 4 students sitting in my class next semester. So much joy to be found when 1/3rd your class does nothing all semester but glare at you and with no additional issues from the schools honor board. Even worse I had to spend an enormous amount of time proving just how much they cheated and how glaring it was. We aren't talking about someone forgetting to source a quote. We're talking about whole papers with the only change being the authors name. But my administrators kept talking about how it was just a minor cultural difference... I got the hint.
At the same school I had a student who I think may very well have functionally illiterate. Failed every single assignment from simple multipule choice to papers to pop quizzes. I've never had a more unproductive example of a student in my life. So she inevitably gets an F. Next thing I know I'm getting calls from her adviser, deans, other faculty. I'm dealing with a full on grievance and having to explain grades, grading, rubrics, ete ete. We're talking hours of work dealing with it and months of continuously annoying issues. Luckily I'm a stickler for explanations and everything I do is transparent. I "win" the case but then my dean sits me down and explains that she is (and I'm not kidding) the child of the Presidents pastor and that he's been using her as an example of how anything can achieve given hard work. We aren't talking about someone with a learning disability or who was autistic we're talking about someone who is just a moron. So I get the hint and cave to the pressure.
Let me tell ya guys. It's not nice working at a place that doesn't care about you, academics, or anything but numbers. One of the many reasons I got a new job (luckily!!!).
Reminds me of a similar case I had several years ago with the son of the Director of Libraries. This kid, I strongly believe, was mentally disabled. I passed him, undeservedly, as did most of his other professors, and he graduated, but then (surprise, surprise) was never able to get a job. Last time I talked to some of my ex-colleagues from that institution, the guy was working in a no-show job in the library and his mom was covering for him.
You must log in to post.