The spread of technology designed to combat academic cheating has created a set of tricky challenges, and sometimes unexpected fallout, for faculty members determined to weed out plagiarism in their classrooms.
In the latest development, the company that sells colleges access to Turnitin, a popular plagiarism-detection program that checks uploaded papers against various databases to pinpoint unoriginal content, now also caters directly to students with a newer tool called WriteCheck, which lets users scan papers for plagiarism before handing them in.
Meanwhile, faculty members at some colleges are adopting a reverse image-search program called TinEye, which lets them investigate plagiarism in visual materials like photos and architectural designs.
Cheating is nothing new. But as the frontiers of academic policing continue to advance—some 2,500 colleges now use Turnitin—faculty members are being pushed to confront classroom conundrums: Should they scan all papers for plagiarism, and risk poisoning the classroom atmosphere? Should they check only suspicious texts, and preserve harmony at the risk of missing clever cheaters? Could Turnitin and technologies like it lead to more plagiarism, since professors might depend on their imperfect results rather than vigorously investigate suspicious material on their own?
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