Cheating at Cal State, Long Beach
Plus, someone really wants us to stop saying cheating is a problem. Plus, ICAI asks for volunteers.
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Some Computer Science Students at Cal State, Long Beach Dispute Cheating
The student paper at California State University, Long Beach has a thorough story about a group of 50-some students who were accused of, and found responsible for, academic misconduct. About a dozen of them say the accusations and conclusions are wrong.
From the paper:
After submitting their first algorithm assignment approximately 50 students were accused of plagiarism or collaboration, a violation of their course syllabus
That syllabus, according to the paper, said:
under no circumstances can you collaborate with anyone else regarding the programming assignments
What’s interesting about this case is that CSULB has what appears to be a very robust detection and appeal process for these types of academic misconduct cases. According to the paper again:
The codes are run through an A.I. [artificial intelligence] that identifies if the students’ code is similar to another. Then four coding experts examine the algorithm to confirm the A.I.’s findings.
Four human reviews. That’s impressive. That can’t work for every suspicious assignment or test in every subject. Still, it’s a nice bar.
Even then, if students disagree, the paper says they can have a committee review the case, though the final decision stays with the professor. If the students still want to appeal, they can raise their cases to three different levels of review. Those later reviews tend to focus on issues of fairness or bias, rather than the evidence of misconduct.
Still, having a computer and four coding experts agree, plus access to outside case reviews seems quite generous, from a student perspective.
I’m Not Saying It’s Coordinated, But Someone Seems Pretty Upset That People Are Talking About the Cheating Threat
An outlet called Truthout has a column from Katie Ignatowski who the publication says is the former chief compliance officer for the University of Wisconsin System.
Curiously, it shares some deep DNA with a piece back in March from North Carolina state senator Todd Johnson (see Issue 104).
The theme of both pieces is that reports of increased cheating may be exaggerated or fabricated by the companies that sell anti-cheating technologies and services, and that efforts to curb cheating may wrongly interfere with “student learning tools” such as Quizlet and Chegg.
I’m not saying that the two pieces are related or that they’re actually a coordinated pushback on efforts to raise awareness of misconduct and protect academic integrity. I can’t possibly know that. But I am saying the two pieces may not pass a seventh grade plagiarism review.
For example, Ignatowski and Johnson both try to dismiss the obvious reality that cheating is on the rise. Ignatowski describes it as:
a growing narrative
In March, Johnson said it was:
the continued narrative
Purely coincidentally, both Johnson and Ignatowski use the exact same quote to minimize cheating reports, linking to the exact same NPR story. This one from Ignatowski:
James Orr, a board member of the International Center for Academic Integrity told NPR, “Just because there’s an increase in reports of academic misconduct doesn’t mean that there’s more cheating occurring. In the online environment, I think that faculty across the country are more vigilant in looking for academic misconduct.”
Both stories also pin the blame for the (growing or continued) narrative on the companies and services trying to stop cheating - exam proctoring companies in particular.
So, it begs the question, why are clashes surrounding cheating becoming so pervasive, and who is benefitting from them?
One industry that has benefited immensely is the global online exam proctoring market.
So why the sudden surge in academic integrity-related stories, conferences and campaign efforts? It is fair to question if this increased focus is being driven by those who stand to benefit from the headlines calling this a crisis.
Both articles say that proctoring companies are convincing professors that cheating is a problem as a ploy to boost their profits. Johnson said that proctoring companies:
stand to benefit from convincing professors that cheating is rampant
It’s not surprising that these proctoring companies benefit from the public, especially faculty members, believing that cheating is widespread
In their view, teachers are suckers who have no idea what’s going on in their classes or schools. Cheating isn’t actually up significantly, they say, what’s really happening is that teachers are being convinced that cheating is widespread.
But back to Ignatowski. She says that anti-cheating policies are bad because they:
can include useful online study resources like Google, YouTube and Quizlet
That should give the game away.
Name-dropping cheating provider Quizlet is like leaving a signed “I did it” note at a crime scene. Meanwhile, saying that Google and YouTube are “useful online study resources” should tell you all you really need to know about Quizlet.
And where Ignatowski described Google, YouTube and Quizlet as:
online study resources
Johnson worried that anti-cheating efforts could hamper:
online educational resources
Where Ignatowski said those “online study resources” were Google, YouTube and Quizlet, Johnson said his “online educational resources” were:
Course Hero, Chegg, or Quizlet
Speak up if you’re sensing a pattern.
Ignatowski says that academic integrity policies:
fail to recognize that third-party materials, study aids and online study resources are used and relied upon by millions of students, particularly non-traditional students, who have limited time and resources. After graduation, employers value resourceful employees who know how to find and use outside resources when necessary. Yet, this new wave of heavy-handed policies inhibits the use of supplemental study aids and forces students to choose between falling behind or risking severe consequences
And Johnson, back in March, said students:
many have to turn to online supplemental educational resources to help them understand complex issues — particularly non-traditional students like those who work full time, or students with children who can’t make office hours to access help
Ignatowski uses “supplemental study aids.” Johnson uses “supplemental educational resources.” Both talk about “particularly non-traditional students.”
There are other examples. But you see the pattern.
Again, I don’t know for sure whether these articles are related. But someone seems quite upset that teachers and schools and journalists are talking about cheating and academic integrity, and saying that cheating is actually a very serious problem. Whomever it is would prefer we all stopped this “narrative.” They’d prefer it if professors stopped proctoring exams. And they’d really appreciate it we left those totally legitimate online study resources for non-traditional students - companies such as Chegg and Quizlet - alone.
It’s a real mystery as to who would want that.
The real story, in my view, isn’t the message. The message is a pro-cheating joke. The important thing is that there appears to be a coordinated, funded campaign to dismiss the growing cheating problem and defend and legitimize cheating companies.
ICAI Seeks Volunteers for International Day of Action
This week, the International Center for Academic Integrity asked for “faculty and staff volunteers” for their International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating.
Here is that request.
Planning is starting for this year's International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating (IDoA) which falls on Wednesday October 19th.
We'd like to ramp up our awareness of this day on a global scale and invite all faculty and staff to reach out and join us. We are currently looking for volunteers to commit to a bi-monthly meeting. This is an opportunity to work with a global team and renowned members in the field.
To join the Faculty Working Group, please reach out to Mary Davis and Irene Glendinning at IDoA_Faculty@academicintegrity.org
The Department of Errors and Corrections Department
In the last Issue, in the story about the continued growth in misconduct cases at the University of Toronto, I meant to type that a particular point was “also worth noting.” Instead, I wrote:
It’s also worth nothing - though entirely consistent with what we know from other schools - that the “Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences” saw the most incidents of reported misconduct.
It was an error that, I think, came out kind of funny. Clearly, I think it’s worth at least something. It’s also my mistake.