Monday, February 16, 2015

a vague wondering

Once, I think I speculated on here about how much time I simply spent alphabetizing stuff (like student papers) in order to make it easier and more accurate for me to enter the grades into the online gradebook.

Well, this afternoon, I wondered, how much time to professors (and other instructor-types) spend trying to detect, prevent, prosecute, and otherwise deal with cheating?

For example: we do not have a Turnitin subscription. (We have SafeAssign, which is similar but not as picky and good at finding things). So if I want to check papers for plagiarism, I go through and do a search-engine search on a distinctive phrase (I've found distressingly large amounts of uncredited direct copying that way. At least it makes prosecuting easy - for a first offense, slap a 0 on the paper, make a copy for my files (just in case), print out the webpage, staple it to the paper, and write on it, "Come see me to discuss this")

This afternoon, I was typing an exam. As the class which is going to take this exam is very large and has people sitting in extremely close proximity, I figured three separate forms (with totally scrambled questions and scrambled multiple-choice responses* for the multiple-choice questions) was advisable.

But in Word, there's no fast and easy way to do this. ("Dangit, Word Formatting!"). So it took me a solid 40 or so minutes to prepare the two extra forms. But given that I once had an incident where people did a quick switcheroo in one class so two people next to each other had the same form, and I spotted someone looking at the other person's paper (they both failed anyway, so it was okay that I didn't immediately yank the papers), I just want to prevent any chances.

We live in a fallen world. If no one ever cheated, how much more time we could devote to other things.

(*And yeah, I know - lots of educators hate them, and they're maybe not the best way of testing ever. But in big classes, with no grading help, you kind of have to do them. And yes, I admit, sometimes I feel like I'm playing a strange version of the game politely known as Balderdash - where you take a word unfamiliar to the players and each person makes up a definition to go with the real one. The skill comes in coming up with plausible but wrong definitions....I'm actually pretty good at that part of Balderdash, it may be my experience making multiple-choice things)

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