Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I could go for this...

Simon Fraser University* is instituting a separate kind of failing grade for serious cases of cheating.

I could go for that. Speaking as someone who dealt with a pretty egregious plagiarism case not all that long ago. I think it is potentially helpful to differentiate between, "They just couldn't cut it in class" and "They failed because they were dishonest." (Also, at least where I teach, "honestly" acquired Fs can be expunged if the student re-takes the class and gets a considerably improved grade).

I wouldn't use it for, say, someone with wandering eyes on a test. (I do give zeroes on that particular test) or for someone who plagiarized a "minor" paper in a class. But for someone who plagiarized the "big" class paper, the one worth as much as an exam, or a more advanced student plagiarizing or otherwise falsifying a research project, I'd do it.

I will say in my department there are a few students that we've warned not to come to certain of us for recommendations due to their history of having cheated. In fact, one of my colleagues made two of his students cry.

He caught them looking off of each other's tests and sharing answers. So he called each one separately into his office and went through the spiel about how there are certain ethics in the Conservation field, that the field is pretty tight about those ethics, and that violators will often find themselves having a hard time getting a job.

He went on to talk about how he was disappointed in them, and how he expected better of them. He finished up by saying, "Don't come to me for recommendations; you won't like what I will write"

And each cried.

(And they were GUYS. Big, ordinarily-tough conservation guys).

Because I think people who are honest should be rewarded, and people who cheat their way through should go to the back of the line.

(*And I have to admit I snort a bit with laughter whenever I see the acronym. Too bad it's not Simon T. Fraser University)

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