|I can't seem to|
drink this problem
However, I am taking in final papers from my students and they are FULL of plagiarism cases. If anyone uses Turnitin software to check essays' originality, you'll know the special horror of seeing a row of 90+% papers come in at the deadline.
I don't mind giving the Fs. But at this college I'm supposed to also fill out formal academic cheating forms for the Dean's office, each one is 3 pages, for each student, and then "be available" over the semester break for followup and disputes.
No. No. I can't do that. I don't want to do that. I want to flunk the worst offenders and not report them. I want to tell the ones who seem to be good students (like my 40 year old air/conditioner company owner who has done solid B work all term) that he's made a HUGE mistake by copying a freshman paper from 2001 and turning it in on his own.
I don't want to shirk my responsibilities as an educator. But I DO want to shirk my responsibilities as a part-timer with no history or future at this place.
Q: Am I Just Too Precious and Lazy and Wrong For Words? I Sense I Am. Help? What Should I Do? And What Would You Do?
I feel you. But you have to do the right thing. Skipping the college policy is akin to rewarding their students for academic cheating. I can tell by the tone of your post that you know what the right thing to do is. Bite the bullet. Do what the college asks you to. Whatever their value to you, they are doing what they can to make grades and achievement meet some standard of authenticity. You've caught cheaters. Don't let them go because it's easier for you. Good luck.ReplyDelete
This is a corollary to "too big to fail." This fraud, negligence, and laziness is making too many fucked up colleges "too fucked to succeed." When no institutional forces are supporting the proffie, then s/he can't be expected to do the right thing. It's a joke. A sad, sad joke. It's like expecting a proffie to try to make the sun come up in the west.Delete
Hi, I'm going to disagree with Cal on this one. When it comes to contract faculty the uni is just take, take, take, and it is beyond the pale sometimes. Our uni recently changed a policy, expecting a full syllabus to be posted online several weeks before the term starts - in other words, before someone on contract hasn't even yet officially started the contract! (i.e. not yet employed, hasn't been paid one red cent and won't be for quite some time yet) And this is on top of often not being confirmed for the teaching gig until several weeks before term starts, so if the contract faculty is teaching the course for the 1st time they basically have to pull a syllabus out of their ass post-haste. I say Balls to That, and let everyone draw their line in the sand where they see fit based on how they've been treated by the uni during the contract.ReplyDelete
You make a really great point.Delete
My silly old-man sensibility of dedication, blah blah blah is still something that I struggle with.Delete
Yet more and more, I appreciate--I mean to type--hate the conflict that colleges pose for "Contingent Faculty" who are expected to be dedicated to the mission of the college and the high ideals of the profession---all while colleges and the self-serving bastards ruining--I mean running--them argue for situational hiring and staffing and pay.
Colleges want standards and academic honesty polices? Hire faculty to positions that give teachers a sense of belonging--so that they can then feel connect to those standards, polices, etc.
This is something colleges don't realize they're giving up, this dedication to whatever mission. They treat contingent faculty like crap, yet expect them to be invested as if they were tenured.Delete
I think it goes further. While contingent/adjunct faculty certainly get the worst of it, by far, as shared governance and such becomes more of a joke, universities are losing any loyalty or real sense of belonging from all of the faculty. I don't feel any loyalty to my institution because I know they'd throw me or my colleagues under the bus in a split second. I've watched it happen.Delete
Damn right, triple A.Delete
Can you fill out the forms with some copy-paste action? If you're not available the following semester because you don't work there anymore, well, that's not your fault.ReplyDelete
I have had a spate of cheating this semester, especially bald-faced cheating that could never be explained away as panic or confusion. The incidence is going up and it is more widespread than seems possible, given the time I spend on it.ReplyDelete
Had a kid tell me last year, after I caught him, that he'd done EVERY paper in high school that way, taking a paragraph from Wikipedia, and then one from another source, and then one from another, until he had Frankenstein-d papers wholly made up of plagiarized material. He seemed confident I was the only one CLEVER enough to catch him. I have no doubt he's cheating in someone else's class right now.Delete
My suggestion is to take all of the advice to heart. Do as Cal suggests and honor your gut, which probably means filling out the paperwork. As Frankie says, cut and paste is your friend. Fail the students, document quickly but accurately, and then walk away. You own them nothing more.ReplyDelete
If some deanling wants to explain to you over break why the students didn't really mean it, it's not your problem. They can change the grades if they like - you can't control that anyway. So walk away and ignore them if they try to contact you. You've done your duty.
I am so grateful for these responses!!!ReplyDelete
Just adding one more vote for a middle way: file the paperwork, using cut-and-paste/boilerplate as possible, and providing the minimum information asked for/necessary for someone else to understand what's going on (a printout of a turnitin report should be enough).ReplyDelete
If anybody asks you for more time, effort, etc. in January, have some more boilerplate ready to repeat, politely but firmly, as necessary, perhaps something along the lines of "I'm sorry, but I've moved on to other professional commitments that require all my time and energy right now. The problem is clear from the materials I provided in my initial report." If they press beyond that, feel free to ignore them once you've delivered the message. As long as you don't want to work for them again, they really have no recourse (just as you'd have no recourse if they decided they didn't want to hire you again for any given semester).
I've recently joined the honor council at my institution (which is apparently huge, due to the volume of work), and I've noticed that overuse of adjuncts does, indeed, lead to this sort of problem (not the plagiarism, but the question of who's going to deal with the extra work it creates). I've been in a couple of hearings where the "course coordinator" -- i.e. full-time faculty member in charge of keeping the adjuncts organized, who is often also the author of a common syllabus and assignments -- stood in for an adjunct who had actually taught the section in question. That approach is fair to the adjunct, but it often turned out that the adjunct had handled things a bit differently than the course coordinator would/did, or that information that might help explain what had happened, especially in situations such as plagiarism in group project or cheating on exams that involved multiple students, some potentially innocent or at least less culpable, and some clearly not, simply wasn't available because the actual instructor wasn't part of the conversation. So there's definitely a problem.
If you liked your colleagues and/or boss at the department level, and/or want to maintain a decent relationship with them on the offchance you might intersect again, you might take the precaution of making sure they have copies of any course materials unique to your class, and not already included in the submission to the dean, that show that you instructed students in proper citation, in case they end up needing to deal with the dean in your place.
Beyond that, for the kind of plagiarism you describe, any faculty member from any department should be able to deal with the situation with nothing more than the paper and copies of the plagiarized sources. This is pretty basic stuff, and, especially if the main penalty is flunking the class, it doesn't really matter exactly what you taught the students, or how. They plagiarized, which shows they haven't developed some of the skills covered by the class, which means they need to take it again, full stop.
P.S. you also need to treat all the plagiarists the same, no matter whether some seem to be better students, or more responsible people, than others. Let the dean sort the backstories out, if the dean judges they matter at all, as well.Delete
Amen, Cassandra. I have a very hard time convincing most of my colleagues of your "fairness doctrine," though. They insist that it's not fair not to take into account whether a student is "a good kid," or whether the student's advisor is putting on pressure to lighten a penalty (the advisor's commitment to the student indicates the value of the student). I was taught as a brand new faculty member at another institution that applying different penalties to different students makes instructor and institution vulnerable to law suits, and this "differentiated" approach makes me very nervous.Delete
The fairness doctrine can be even further challenged by cultural factors. Mr. Pennsylvania Penny and I live in a country where social standing (meaning money and family) trump just about anything else. Mr. Penny teaches at an American university in this country. He has more than once been pressured to pass a failing student, or improve a grade, because the kid is "from a good family." Unfortunately for the slacker kid, American university = American standards, and Mr. Penny is prepared to enforce them. Fortunately, his chair and the higher administration always have his back on this particular point, so he never has to argue it, but the conversations become exhausting after a while.Delete
Let me answer your first question: No, you are not too precious and lazy for words. You are overwhelmed and underpaid, and your reaction to exploitation is the correct one. I was in your position for years, and the last place I adjuncted was absolutely horrible in terms of pay, in how it treated adjuncts, and the ridiculous paperwork and other bureaucratic nonsense that it required of all of us.ReplyDelete
That having been said, I did it all. I filled out every form required, met with students and deans when I wasn't on the clock, and did everything by the book. It was awful and I knew that I was feeding a horrible system, but I do not regret it. Not only did my experience there lead to some good letters of recommendation for my current full-time gig, but I was well aware that we live in a litigious society and I wanted to cover my ass. Also, I thought that combating academic dishonesty was worth it. Let me add, though, that much of the bureaucratic nonsense and time-consuming, soul-eating paperwork had nothing to do with cases of academic dishonesty. Some places are just hardwired that way.
Do what your conscience tells you to do, but know that you are not -- in any way, shape, or form -- lazy.