New Software Red-Flags Cheaters

1 decade 1 year 7 months ago Thursday, September 28 2006 Sep 28, 2006 Thursday, September 28, 2006 11:58:40 PM CDT September 28, 2006 in News

Now, with just a click of a computer mouse, it can be easily caught, too, as Professor Brian Brooks discovered when six of his students copied from another's paper on a mid-term exam.

"I had three papers where another student had turned in almost an identical paper," said Brooks, who is also undergraduate dean in the MU journalism school.

Brooks uses a Website called Turnitin.com to crosscheck students' work. The site highlights words in red that form the same sentences in different papers.

Gone are the days when students had to go to the library if they wanted to find books or materials to cheat. Now, a few keystrokes can take you to sites like Schoolsucks.com, where KOMU found a paper titled "Journalism Ethics." For $10 a page, students can easily charge their morality to their credit cards.

MU law professor James Devine says 90-100 cases of cheating students came to his attention just last semester.

"The temptation to finish at the top of one's class is greater than it ever has been," explained Devine, who also works in the Office of the Vice Provost. "I've never seen it on this scale before, but we've never had this kind of software before to detect it either."

Brooks hopes none of the students ever cheats again.

"To my knowledge, nobody that's ever graduated from this school has been caught doing that, and we don't want anyone from this class to be the first one," he said.

Brooks said the journalism school will watch the six cheaters closely for the rest of their academic careers. He lowered their grades, but did not send their cases to the vice provost because Brooks decided to use the incident as a teaching lesson.

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