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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Plagarism pact pondered

    As the UA’s contract comes close to expiring with plagiarism-detection Web site turnitin.com, UA administrators are setting up student focus groups to determine the site’s effectiveness.

    Before the university renews the contract administrators would like to find out more about students’ opinions of the site and create focus groups to determine solutions to some of the problems students are having with the program.

    Turnitin.com catches and deters plagiarism by color-coding student work based on content, like words, that are found in another source, Hogle said.

    The contract allows an unlimited number of UA classes to use turnitin.com, he added.

    “”In the fall of 2006, 276 instructors used turnitin.com for classes that encompassed 25,000 students,”” said Jerrold Hogle, vice provost of instruction. “”Every college, except the College of Public Health, had at least some classes participating with
    turnitin.com.””

    During the summer, Alan Cooney, a physics graduate student, had his students use turnitin.com for Physics 241.

    “”Turnitin.com shows the percent of work that was taken from outside sources after the student submits it,”” he said. “”In the lab reports, students are supposed to explain what occurred in their lab using their own words, so when we saw 20 or 30 percent (plagiarism in some papers) we thought that was high,”” he said.

    Based on the results of turnitin.com, Cooney said he would remind his students to use their own words in lab reports.

    “”Teachers aren’t trying to gang up on students,”” he added. “”They just aren’t going to be able to check for plagiarism when they have 200 essays to grade by eye.””

    “”There has to be a bit of discretion on the teacher’s part,”” he said.

    Yvonne Rodriguez, a psychology senior, thought turnitin.com was easy to use when she had to submit papers for her
    sociology class.

    “”Some people didn’t want to use it because they thought it was a hassle,”” Rodriguez said. “”But you get a password and then drop it. It was easy, like an e-mail.””

    Rodriguez said that she was sure to cite everything she questioned so there wasn’t a chance she would be accused
    of plagiarism.

    Steve Wallace, a pre-business freshman, had to use turnitin.com for a management information systems class.

    “”The only problem I had with turnitin.com was that I had to go to the OSCR lab to send my paper because my MacBook wouldn’t process it,”” he said. “”I think it is an honest way for teachers to make sure students are doing their own work and
    not cheating.””

    Marketing professor Victor Piscipello said he requires all of 450 his students to submit their work to the site to uphold integrity.

    “”It’s a great way to make sure students are doing their own projects and also to make sure they are citing and referencing properly,”” he said.

    Piscipello said he thinks the UA should renew the contract or reach one with another site that offers a similar project.

    Alex Porter, a political science freshman, said he doesn’t think the UA should sign another contract with turnitin.com unless they can work out a better system.

    “”My political science class forces students to use turnitin.com or else the paper is deducted 50 percent,”” he said. “”It makes more sense to make it a voluntary program.””

    Porter also thinks the site is a violation of due process and of copyright law.

    “”Not only does turnitin.com check your work, but they store it for future use, and that constitutes a use of my paper,”” he said. “”The fact that they use my intellectual property without compensating me is not fair.””

    Porter said he supports the ideas of academic integrity and of trying to reduce plagiarism, but he doesn’t think the end justifies the means.

    “”The violation of due process that occurs is, if I am accused of a crime, I am innocent until proven guilty,”” he said. “”With turnitin.com I am guilty until I can prove my innocence.””

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