Friday, September 22, 2006

CC and her brothers went to McLean High School and her tax money still supports it.

Which is why she is pretty weirded out by this story, where the Washington Post said that a whole lot of said tax money is going to support a plagarism-prevention computer program at the school that all of the students will be forced to put their papers through.

A couple of my professor friends have reported great success combating plagarism with the combination of intuition and Google, both of which are free. I don't think a program that searches academic journals is really necessary.




UUpdater said...

I think the answer depends entirely on how much time the teachers would spend using Google. As with most automated systems the idea would be to save time, and I would hope that no result of the program would be taken as proof positive of cheating. Considering the amount of money they quoted in the article I would think that it would take a lot of hours to justify the expense.

Chalicechick said...

((I think the answer depends entirely on how much time the teachers would spend using Google))

My guess is, that's where the intuition comes in.


Epilonious said...

wow, you mean high-schools are getting access to Lexus-Nexus now?

I remember having to get to College to figure out that the journaling system was horribly hacky and annoying to find 35 articles that had-a-word-yet-none-of-what-I-actually-needed.

Joel Monka said...

What I find interesting is the student's complaint that it violates their copywrite and their worry about their intellectual property. That sounds like an admission that they intend to sell their papers to other students!

The price doesn't seem excessive to me- 80 cents per student. Even with a high speed connection and good intuition, the teacher's per hour salary would exceed 80 cents on a Google search.

Chalicechick said...

Only if the teacher suspected every single student of cheating.


Chalicechick said...

Not to mention that the CSO says these systems are notorious for false positives, meaning the responsible teachers will spend a lot of time weeding out the false positives. The lazy teachers will presumably just accuse every person who gets dinged of cheating and likely the innocent will appeal and the guilty will soon, too, since appealing appears to work as the system has become notorious for false positives. And now we're spending a lot of the principal's time and he/she is much more expensive than a teacher.


LaReinaCobre said...

That cheating is so rampant at this high school that they feel the need to implement this program is, imo, the most shocking aspect of this story.

So much for education being a value in and of itself.

Chalicechick said...

In defense of my school, I'm quoting the article here:

Kimberly Carney, an assistant principal at McLean High, said there have been isolated cases of plagiarism at the 1,770-student school. The main reason administrators will use Turnitin is to teach students how to give proper credit to sources, Carney said.

"There wasn't a landmark thing that happened that we said we need to adopt this," Carney said. "Plagiarism is a problem at every high school nationwide."


Jamie Goodwin said...

I don't buy that... but that may be my negative attitude towards many teachers (no offense if you are one) there are just too many out there that are too lazy or to apathetic to double check positive results from this program.

The only thing the teachers are hoping to gain is catching and failing anyone they suspect of plagery to begin with.

Oh and you just know it isn't going to work correctly. There are just too many variables.

Anonymous said...

our legal issue is the intellectual property rights, think morally for a second, presumed guilt? when was that moral?

UUpdater said...

It doesn't take very long for me to discern if an e-mail is spam or not. Yet, I still use spam filtering software. Again, it's a matter of efficiency. And if an e-mail from my Mom gets filtered as spam I think "Gee, the spam filter needs tweeking" and not "Gee, I guess my Mom became a spammer". The software is a tool for the teachers to use, I hope they don't abandon their reason and simply rely on the results of the tool.

My anti spam software scans every single e-mail to determine if it is spam. This is not a presumption of guilt by any stretch. Good spam filtering software employs heuristic checks where they determine the liklihood a message is spam. That liklihood is adjusted by the user telling the system if it's determiniation was correct. A doctor might be more likely to get non-spam e-mails regarding Viagra, for example. The system improves as you tell it which messages were falsely identified as spam, and which spam messages were not identified.

At a guess the would work in a similar fashion. Every single paper gets fed in. It outputs a liklihood of plagarism based on matching sections of text and cites the sources. The teachers then review the information and feedback into the system the determination of if it was in fact plagarism. This in turn "tunes" the system to more efficiently identify potential plagarism. The larger the body of experience the system has to draw on the more accurate the future results.

Of course I don't know this for sure, but I would be willing to give the school administrators the benefit of the doubt. if the teachers abandon there good sense when the software hits a false positive the school has a bigger issue with it's teachers than spending money on this software.