Thursday, March 26, 2015

Four of Twenty-Five

That's the number of papers I found that were in part or full, plagiarized.

I shouldn't have checked tonight. Now I won't sleep well, because this is where I begin to doubt myself: what use am I as an educator if I can't even convince students not to cut and paste from Wikipedia, and all I can do is give them zeroes when they do? If I can't make people care enough to want to do a decent job?

What's the point? Why do I even do this? I should just give up on assigning papers all together because it gives me such a headache every time. What is possibly good for the students is bad for my own happiness and sense of calm. And I'm not even convinced that having 20 year olds who complain they have little experience writing write, without being able to make them do an intensive, technical-writing course is any good. All that happens is they get frustrated and I get frustrated because I don't have enough time in this class to teach people to write properly. So everything gets all half-a**ed and ugly. LIFE is just half-a**ed and ugly.

I'm wasting my life. I'll die and be dead and gone and nothing I will have done will have any effect on anything. There's nothing I can do that will make anything any better. And I wish I could break through that wall to the point where I stopped caring about how messed up everything was and how I have no power to improve anything, and just learn to suck what enjoyment I can out of life, since I can't fix anything.To STOP CARING. I'd be a lot happier if I cared less.

I think part of the issue is how I was always told growing up that because I was Smart, I would Do Great Things, and here I am, instead, teaching at a small obscure college and tearing my hair out over people who plagiarize because really what some of them want is certification, not education, and others have poor time management or skills, and so give up and punt and hope I don't check.

And I wonder: did the people who said I'd Do Great Things lie to me (or were wrong), or have I failed them by not pushing even harder to make an impact on the world for good?

(This is the point where, if my life were actually a movie, I'd sell all I had and give the money to the poor, in a Grand Gesture to try to make the world better. But I like my comforts too much to try to do that)

(Or, this is also the point where, if my life were a different sort of movie, someone somewhere - an angel or a fairy godmother or a magic unicorn, depending on the movie, would go "Oh no! There is a woman in sector 7-G who is getting discouraged, we must DO something!" and then something magical would happen in my life to make it better.)

it kind of stinks that life isn't actually like a movie.


Edited to add: I'm gonna ask a colleague about the partial (like, less than 1/3 of the paper) plagiarism and get their idea on it, whether to take off part of a grade (to cut down on wear and tear on me) or to give a fullfledged 0 (which would be more fair to the students who actually did all their own work). And I'm also gonna hold the papers an extra day without grades being posted or applied, and tell the class that I am "investigating some suspected plagiarism." I also want to look at the information again and do another comparison to see just how MUCH was plagiarized. I think I need more time for that.

I always thing of the case of my dad, where in one of his large classes, the TA helping to proctor said that she thought she saw two people copying but couldn't prove it well enough to take the exams, and he was all "I got this" and the next class announced that there had been an "incident" of cheating and if the guilty parties turned themselves in, they'd JUST get 0s for the exam, he wouldn't take it up with Academic Affairs. He thought it was a useful bluff to get the pair to turn themselves in.

The next day, 12 people showed up at his office hours to confess.....

I'm not gonna do that but I do think there's some possible value in letting a couple people sweat for a day or two.

But crikey, this was not that hard of an assignment and it's one that a lot of people find fun and interesting.


Kucki68 said...

On the other hand there are 21 people you a r e teaching and who are willing to do their own work. Don't give up on them, the world needs teachers who care.

purlewe said...

Don't give up. And let them sweat a little.

That said I wills ay my BF in college and his roomie were both the same major and they both were in the same classes. They each did their own homework, but when one would get stuck the other would talk them thru it. They once had a prof who did the "I have an incident and if you turn yourself in I won't report you" they didn't turn themselves in, bc they each did their own work. Next class, same announcement. So they asked the prof. and yes they were the ones suspected.. but they really did their own work, they just used each other to bounce ideas off when they did their homework. So sometimes it realy is innocent.