Writing services for students, like plagiarism, is cheating & life ruining

I just saw this link on Twitter @9PapersMarket. Their ad says: Paper Writing Serviceget papers, dissertations, and more written for you. Starting at $5.00 talented writers are waiting to write for you.

Then, on their main page, they say there is no plagiarism. Huh? Plagiarism is cheating. Having someone write your paper is cheating. Okay, so they may be different types of cheating. But, they are both fraud because a person is claiming to have done something they haven’t done!

Do these “student” writing companies have any idea of the consequences of cheating like this? Putting it succinctly, it can destroy lives.

As a former academic I have seen it happen. Professors are not stupid. If your paper sounds more advanced than what you wrote before in another paper or on an exam question, they will interview you. If you don’t have all the ins and outs of the pre-research for the paper in question, they will know you are a cheater. There are also APPS to catch cheating, such as this word cloud program at turnitin.com which is good even at the high school level. There is also Grammarly for fact checking for plagiarism.

So, what happens if a university student is caught cheating?

  • He or she will have a mark on their transcript for life.
  • Likely, they’ll be kicked out of their program.
  • No other university or college will accept them.
  • Their future employers will know when they ask for an academic reference.

My advice to all secondary and post-secondary students is to do their own work. That is why they are where they are — to learn new things, not how to cheat in the hopes of getting away with it.

And, yes, cheating can be addictive. If they get away with it once or twice, they’ll be tempted to continue. Eventually, however, they’ll get caught, one way or the other. As many who have cheated have found out, even later in life, the previous act of cheating can bite them.

I mean, check out this Google page. There are nearly 400,000 entries of people who have been fired for plagiarism which is very similar to having someone claim as theirs, what someone else wrote.  In fact, more often than not plagiarism is just for small sections of a paper, which in this case, is the entire paper!

Anyway, the very idea that a ghost writer could write someone’s dissertation is nuts. It can’t happen in any reputable university. Thesis supervisors are all over the process or they should be. And, remember, the final oral defence is with a very tough committee that usually consists of your thesis advisor, another inside reader and at least one outside reader. For sure, if a person has not written what they are defending, it will show.

Professional writing services that are contracted by business people and politicians are a very different matter. It is the student services that are the problem.

The crux of the matter is that writing services that do what students should do themselves should all be shut down as illegal and I am surprised that Twitter allows such advertising.

“No-fail” policy divide between teachers & public widening

Imagine my surprise when a fellow retired educator by the name of Ken O’Connor left comments on this thread that basically said I was wrong about everything I have written related to no-fail policies and teachers being allowed to give zeros.  Judging from his website, he is obviously a very credible professional.  Yet, I have rarely encountered a more single minded arrogant visitor in the nearly five years I have been blogging. Readers will find his comments here, here and here

There is no doubt whatsoever that O’Connor is entitled to his opinions based on his own education and experiences. However, what I found problematic was that he didn’t seem to feel I was entitled to mine. Initially, for instance, he seemed to assume I didn’t know what I was writing about. Well, I do know what I am writing about as I have done, and continue to do, my own research and publishing.

The problem, as I see it, is that there are three paradigms or world views, as explained in Curriculum Perspectives and Practice by John Miller (a former teacher of mine) and Wayne Seller. And, unless you are going to debate at cross purposes, it is always a good idea to figure out where a person is coming from in terms of their beliefs about curriculum and instruction and everything in between. 

In any event, while neither O’Connor or myself have all the answers, each of us should be allowed to have opposing opinions as professionals. However, since that was not the case, the one thing I learned from his visit here is that the no-fail policy divide between teachers and parents is widening to such a degree that there is soon going to be a complete inability for either side to effectively communicate with the other.

And, unfortunately, the crux of the matter is that stuck right in the middle of the debate are the students who will one day be adults in a world where employers do not differentiate between “learning” and “behaviours.”

No-fail policies leading to cheating & Turnitin.com?

Note: Taking a short break. Visitors will notice that I have combined “The Retired Educator” and “Crux of the Matter” once again and am now approaching commentary from a non-partisan point of view.

So, the Ontario government is purchasing access to turnitin.com because plagiarism — cheating — has become a problem in Ontario schools. Well, hello! What did officials in Ontario’s ministry of education and other provincial education departments across Canada think would happen if they encouraged or implemented no-fail policies?

It’s called natural consequences.  I mean, if you promote or “transfer” students who don’t have the skills to move ahead or enact policies that force teachers to not deduct marks for lateness, incompleteness or lack of sources, what do you think will happen?

They will have to cheat, that’s what, by writing words and sentences that are someone else’s? It’s called plagiarism or, for want of a better word, cheating.

So, by implementing “turnitin.com” in Ontario’s public schools, is the McGuinty Liberal government not admitting that its policies are ill preparing our children and youth for real life? I mean, how many employers will put up with plagiarism in the work place? None that I know of.

As a result, we can only hope that the need to use Turnitin.com is the impetus provincial governments need to re-examine no-fail policies. I am not holding my breath, however, because all too often officials don’t stand back and question why cheating has become such a problem in the first place.

“Left wing rot” infecting Cdn universities & CFS

Given that I am a retired academic, having spent a good part of my life in a university environment (first as an administrative assistant, then as a student and lastly as a professor), I find it very difficult to use the word “rot.” Yet, rot is what it is because it is eroding the very foundations that universities were built — independence of thought and freedom of expression.  Meaning, that what claims to be progressive thought is, in fact, repressive thought.  

Meaning, it is long past time that university administrators, deans and department chairs woke up to what is happening in their environment. In other words, if they are ignoring, encouraging, condoning or turning a blind eye to Canadian Federation of Student (CFS) tactics, they are in effect, collaborators.

An exaggeration? Not at all. Remember, it was not that long ago that those of us who studied and taught in a university context, claimed to value independence of thought and a wide variety of philosophical and political views. It was always well known, for example, that I was a “progressive conservative.” Yet, I (and other colleagues who were of the same worldview) were never treated unfairly or with any disrespect.  

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Why are so many university students unprepared?

I came across this post yesterday at one of my favourite blogs — Ivory Tower Blues (ITB)  — by two Ontario professors. They and I have been complaining for some time now that far too many of today’s post-secondary students are completely unprepared for college or university.

In their most recent post, however, I was surprised to find out there is someone — who actually represents university teachers — who is denying the problem is any worse than it was in the past. The name discussed at ITB was that of  James Turk, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.  

That said, I have no doubt that the unreadiness sentiment is held by more professors throughout Canada and the U.S., than not. In fact, not long ago, I published an article here at Crux of the Matter titled “How to write a college/university essay” — in response to similar complaints in the media. 

So, what exactly are the problems? Are high school students being granted credits for little or no work based on the Ontario government’s “no-fail,” policy? Are high school students being allowed to complete independent study and/or make up courses with little or no supervision? Are university teachers expecting more from their students now than in the past? Or, is it some of all of the above? 

Whatever the case, before anyone is tempted to blame everything on high school teachers, I would ask visitors to first check out this link to the high school curriculum chart  for English — up to page 26 of 221 pages. It clearly shows the kinds of reading, research and writing skills that are supposed to be taught in Ontario’s high schools — no doubt similar to what is expected elsewhere. But, are those skills actually being taught to all students who will attend college or university?

Then, there is the “attitude” problem which may appear as though students are unready. For instance, as far back as the mid 1990’s (when I was still teaching undergraduate students), I began to notice a new pattern of behaviour. I referred to it at the time as “the chip on the shoulder problem.” Students would miss 50% or more of their classes and then seem surprised when they did badly on an exam or paper — often saying they had expected an “A.”

The crux of the matter is then, apart from the few who dismiss the charge of student unreadiness, why are so many college and university professors today finding that students are not prepared for the rigors of post secondary study?

Why are so many students cheating?

When a regular reader recently forwarded a link to this Montreal Gazette article titled: “Cheating stats getting out of control,” by Amy Minsky, I could not believe my eyes. Teachers are apparently to blame for the fact that more students than ever are cheating — no matter in what form.

Well, isn’t that convenient! Blame teachers for everything. Make them the scapegoats. Well, sure some teachers could teach better.  But, that is not the issue. Historically, in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, there have always been teachers who didn’t teach well and yet very few students found it necessary to cheat. Moreover, given the present statistics — according to Eric Anderman at Ohio State, 80% of high school students and 75% of college and university students — it appears that no matter how good a teacher is, the students still admit to cheating.

Cheating is a social problem

Meaning, that cheating has now become a social problem. In fact, cheating in all its forms has obviously become a global problem because high marks are being demanded at all costs — no matter what a person’s ability level.

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