Friday, June 15, 2007

Just when I thought it was safe to relax...

Some vacation week *this* was. Finals were last week, and with everything going on--including some unexpected filling-in for a colleague--I didn't get all my classes' term papers graded. So that, along with all the other end-of-quarter grading I normally have to do, spilled over into this week in a major way. I got everything posted by the deadline, but that required a few *really* late nights that I'm just recovering from now.

Speaking of paper-grading, one problem that I can see has gotten markedly worse is the volume of cheating I'm seeing in class assignments. In fact, I don't think it would be exaggerating to say that plagiarism has now reached epidemic levels. I beg people not to do it; I warn them that I wrote professionally for years and I can spot this stuff (and yes, I check), and I schedule additional office hours the week before case studies are due. In spite of all this, I've found more papers with unattributed copied-and-pasted material than I *ever* have in a single term. One particularly lazy student actually pulled stuff right from Wikipedia and pasted it into his first two pages. I don't know if they think their professors are retarded, or whether they just don't care, but either way, but I'm frustrated with the apathy and especially irritated that I have to waste so much of my time being the plagiarism cop. And since it's clear that many/most of these folks have no intention of actually learning from assignments like this, I don't really see the point anymore in putting us all through the exercise. Instead, I'll make a group strategic plan (which can't be ripped off) more intensive, make it worth more toward their course grade, and then give an objective final exam. Yeah, I realize this amounts to giving in, but I'm not sure what else to do and keep my sanity intact.

On other fronts, the show with Roger Neumann went well, and I'll post a recap of that later. Also recently heard a CD that I played on a couple of months ago (I was sitting in for a friend), and a solo I played sucked *SO* bad that I'm going to pretend it never happened and just move on with life. Right now, though, I'm dog-sitting. Punky, my Springer Spaniel who was born blind from an inherited eye malformation, had a second eye develop glaucoma and had surgery to deal with it this afternoon. The condition is very painful--human sufferers compare it to a migraine headache that never goes away--and treatment in dogs depends largely on whether the dog has vision in the affected eye. If so, medication is typically used keep the intraocular pressure down. When the dog doesn't have vision to preserve, treatment is often more aggressive and ranges from surgery to relieve the pressure, to replacement of the interior of the eye with a prosthesis (which gives the dog a more normal appearance), to enucleation (removal) of the entire eye. Since Punky has been through this once before, the decision to remove her remaining eye was an easy one; she's the kind of dog who pile-drives her way through life, and a useless eye just gets in the way of things like catching rats (yes, really) and terrorizing mailmen. It's also a permanent solution to the constant management of cornea ulcers and secondary infections common with blind but active dogs. She's home from her surgery and in a fair bit of discomfort now, but experience has shown that she'll be back to her evil ways in a day or so. It'll also take some getting used to for me since her eyes are now permanently closed, but I'll figure out a new way to "read" her. I'm just glad she'll be out of her pain.

And on that note, I'm off to cook some doggie dinners. Cheers...


Christian said...


In your blog post you mentioned that you can spot plagiarism in student papers. Being I teacher myself I have a vital interest in learning how to spot it. I'd be thankful for some hints and clues. Please drop a line to TheDean at

Take care,

Craig Overend said...

After listening to a podcast recently on economic rationalism the thought that struck me most was the economic value of public information, information without borders, how anyone can take that and not provide attribution. How worthless it is for individuals to invest in. Especially these days with large amounts of information cataloged for duplication. Plagiarism reminded me of this. You may hate me for saying this, but it also reminds me of music. The recordings themselves, not performance, and the art itself.
Meh. I don't know what I'm trying to say and the cat just came to visit me. Right now I'd rather be patting her now I'm getting some lovin. Truth be told it's my computer case that's getting that... she loves the warmth.
Hope Punky is well soon.

Robert Luedeman, attorney at law said...

Interesting stuff, Saxdiva. I also teach and I have gone through the entire lecture with my students-threats, pleading, appeals to their better nature-and still there is cut and paste plagiarism despite the fact that plagiarism in your academic record is an offense of moral turpitude and can cause problems in a character and fitness determination.

I used to teach a case-Iowa Board of Professional Ethics v. Lane-which is about a lawyer who plagiarized a brief and got caught. I assigned it for people to read and understand. One student plagiarized the case report.

So I don't do that stuff anymore. I run everything thru, and I also take five word snippets with quote marks around them and plug them into my google search window when I've found something that looks plagiarized.

Your pal