Grading, Plagiarism, Webbed Writing and ...

Mick Doherty (doherm@RPI.EDU)
Mon, 5 Aug 1996 12:51:47 -0400

... every other damn thing we talk about on this list all came to a head
for me today. I have had a fascinating thing happen in my Writing to the
WWW class, and I would appreciate feedback on it.

Last week I gave a "quiz" -- "open-web," as it were -- in which students
were essentially responsible for showing that they knew how to code. The
"content" of the quiz was all available one or two links from our class
syllaweb -- and if they'd done the reading (and this class has kept up)
they knew that. Providing definitions for terms meant going to find them
elsewhere, and building an unnumbered list, or a table, or whatever ...
get the idea?

And, because I am vehemently anti-grading, I give them a re-write
do the quiz over after you get the initial score. This is where the problem
came in. One of my more affable students, who had done okay on the initial
quiz, just sort of hung out and watched his classmates re-write theirs for
a week; then right before the "final deadline" (ugh) for the re-write he
threw up a page where he linked to various answers his *classmates* had
come up with -- essentially picking the bext answer to each of the ten
coding-response tasks.

Given that we've spent a great deal of time wokring through ownership issues
(we read Lunford, Rickly, Salvo and West -- etc.) I have to admit I was
somewhat nonplussed at first, and ended up thinking he was quite clever.
I know he knows how to do the coding tasks; he knows I know it; he put up
a site that challenged everything we think about academia.

Some of his classmates, one in particular, are not happy, though others
simply said "Oh! Wish I'd thought of that!" or were eager to find out if
*they8d* written anything good enough to be linked to. ;-) I will include
one negative response and ask you all -- how, if at all, should I respond?
Class ends in three days -- and the "final exam" (structured similarly to
this quiz) is on Thursday ...


I think what [name] did was deplorable. This was a quiz not a regular web
assignment. No I do not think it was approriate for him to do what he did. I
think he sould get a zero for the quiz and be set to the J-board. Some might
consider this a creative attempt at doing the quiz, but I say it is worong.
If I understand this correctly he didn ot even ask the permission of the
people he was copying from. I don't care if the links into the page, after
the quizes have been graded especially, but it is wrong in this situattion
for the simple fact that [name] was taking the quiz along with us. This fact
changes everything. I and a lot of people spent a lot of time on the quiz.
What [name] and any one else for that matter did, was tantamount to sitting
together in a traditional classroom and discussing a traditional test among
themselves and then handing individual papers is and saying the worked on it


I worked dammed hard for the grade that I got and I would like to see [name]
punished for what he did instead of being made a celerbity.

Yes it boils down to grades. If we were not being graded I mostl likely would
not care, or at least not be this harsh. But grades are important. We as a
societ put a high stock in them. To get into a graduate school depends on
grades. To get a good job after graduation depends on grades, yes Experience
is a big factor as well as the school that you go to, but the bottom line is
grades. I have heard plenty recruters for companys say that given a chonce
between a MIT C and an RPI A they would most likely take the MIT C. I think
grades suck and should not be used to evealuate a student, but the rest of
society does not think so. If they did there woudl not be a big infasis
placed on the Class Validictoraian or the Salutatorian .....

We go to RPI becasue we want to get a good job. We are competing with a world
economy now. The future is going to be tougher than it ever was with
lagitimate competition. In such a sitauation cheating should not be
sanctioned as it is being in this situation. [name] shoudl pay for cheating,
like so many BETTER students have had to in the past for doing a lot less.

[student name]

And yes that last line was ment as an insult because I am pissed off like no
one woudl imagine.