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Ace
07-02-2005, 05:17 AM
I was just wondering what you all thought about those websites that offer essays for students to claim as their own. I think there is more than one side to the issue, but maybe I'm alone in that thought.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm fresh out of high school, and since none of my teachers could understand the brilliance of my essays, it's a shame they will all go to waste.

reph
07-02-2005, 05:49 AM
I was just wondering what you all thought about those websites that offer essays for students to claim as their own.
I think they ought to be shut down.

Next?

Inspired
07-02-2005, 06:09 AM
Unethical.
Immoral.

Medievalist
07-02-2005, 06:20 AM
Don't get me started.

And when I find a student who's used them--and trust me, we do spot them--I have no sympathy at all.

Ace
07-02-2005, 06:42 AM
See, I think you're all looking at this from the point of view of someone who is capable of writing and feels confident in writing. I really feel sorry for some people, and I think America's school system is leaving a void in students' education when it comes to writing. I'd sooner say that the English departments are unethical, immoral, and they ought to be shut down and put under new management. I personally consider many high school graduates to not be fluent in English. Where do these people turn? I just spent a little while looking through the essays people are offering, and if you're trying to use one of those, you're not just looking to save time; you're desperate.

Medievalist
07-02-2005, 07:32 AM
I teach undergraduate English students. I let them turn in their essays to me, and I'll read and comment on them, without grading them; they can then revise the essay. They can talk to me and we'll look at the essay in office hours, and I'm available via e-mail and chat. I'll give them an extension, no questions asked, up to the day the essay is due. If they get a grade between a C and an A-, they can revise for a new grade.

They have no excuse, none, for plagiarizing, buying an essay or otherwise cheating.

Unique
07-02-2005, 04:42 PM
Sorry, Ace -

There are community colleges and free resources on the internet. Don't forget public libraries and other resources which may or not be free. If you feel your education has a void - try to fill it. If a student doesn't have a grasp of writing, reading, and/or communicating in their native language - they don't belong in college or university in the first place. They should fill the gaps and come back when they're ready. JMO

Nicholas S.H.J.M Woodhouse
07-02-2005, 04:52 PM
Personally, I do not like these websites. It takes something away from the student who tries hard. Having said that, there are serious problems with the school system in the Uk. For example, in Hull, where I come from, the council is a local education action zone. Each secondary school will recieve money for each pupil who gest A-Cs. The problem is that children who are likely to get Ds are given lots of books, tips and basically fed a C. Thats great - but when it comes to the next stage of educational life, they are not prepared for more individual learning - and as result they will turn to such websites to feed them what they need.
The system has to accept some blame for this.

to Med' --> I like the way you do that. One of my old teachers used to do that - it really helped me learn what was needed - and got me records, so go with it.

Unique
07-02-2005, 05:00 PM
For example, in Hull, where I come from, the council is a local education action zone. Each secondary school will recieve money for each pupil who gest A-Cs. The problem is that children who are likely to get Ds are given lots of books, tips and basically fed a C. The system has to accept some blame for this.

.

Is that where we got the model for this? Pity. We should have left it there.

But thank you, Nique, for reminding me that the way other countries operate their universities may differ from ours. Here, anyone with the means to pay can attend - even old people like me. (But many, many places have the Internet now. There's no excuse for not trying)

Inspired
07-02-2005, 05:21 PM
See, I think you're all looking at this from the point of view of someone who is capable of writing and feels confident in writing.


No, I'm looking at this from the perspective of a teacher who cares about her students.

Let me give you this example. This past year, one of my students started out the year not even being able to string two sentences together in a logical matter. He has a learning disability (nothing major, but his grades show it.) By the end of the year, with LOTS of coaching, he wrote a fairly decent paragraph.

Another student, who is a pretty average student, can write okay, but I kept seeing her copy sentences and paragraphs from her sources. I called her on it, but she continued.

Student B's work looked better than student A's. Student A learned a lot and worked hard. Student B made little progress.

Who do you think got the higher grade?

Ace
07-02-2005, 06:08 PM
I was really talking about this in terms of high school, but my father has to deal with this as a dean, and he tells me that a lot of the students from foreign countries don't always understand the whole plagiarism thing.

It's pretty obvious that the people here wouldn't be using the essays, which is why I was talking more about submitting them. It might be used for plagiarism, but it also connects your writing with a larger audience than it would have, otherwise.

Inspired, this might be for a different topic, but don't you think education is too competitive these days to grade people based on progress rather than actual education? Maybe in a perfect world, people would be graded by the content of their character, but in reality, such grading only leads to grade inflation.

Unique
07-02-2005, 06:16 PM
[QUOTE=Ace]
It's pretty obvious that the people here wouldn't be using the essays, which is why I was talking more about submitting them. QUOTE]

I daresay, we wouldn't be writing them, either. And you are correct, Ace, that other cultures have different views on theft and lying. But if they are gaining their education in the US - they need to be informed that for the majority - the majority of writers, anyway - plagarism is theft. Using plagarized works is lying and theft.

Ace
07-02-2005, 06:25 PM
They should be informed, but that is not always the case. In terms of essay websites, I don't think you can say it's theft. Lying- yes.

I, personally, have not submitted anything like this, but I can't say anything bad about those who have.

Inspired
07-02-2005, 06:29 PM
Inspired, this might be for a different topic, but don't you think education is too competitive these days to grade people based on progress rather than actual education? Maybe in a perfect world, people would be graded by the content of their character, but in reality, such grading only leads to grade inflation.

Where's the grade inflation??

Do you think I gave student A an A? He didn't do A work. But, there was no way I was going to give what appeared to be A work to a student who plagiarized. She got an F.

I don't inflate grades. Ask my students. Not a single one got a 4.0. They didn't meet my standards.

I guess I have a different view than you do. I reward learning rather than copying.

Why do some students learn less than others? They never get the skills.

What skills will someone (on any grade level) get by buying an essay? They may learn something about business, but nothing about writing.

Ace
07-02-2005, 07:18 PM
Well obviously, if the person plagiarized, they should not receive a good grade, but I was speaking more in terms of giving higher grades to people who progressed more. If you give similar grades to people who are smart and naturally write well, and those who aren't as smart who have shown hard work, that's grade inflation.

Medievalist
07-02-2005, 07:31 PM
Ace

First, like most of the teachers I know, I grade the work not the student. And yes, one can reward "effort," in the form of a higher class participation grade.

But there are agreed upon standards for an A paper, a B paper, etc. We even do "norming" sessions to make sure we're all using the same standards and criteria, not just for papers, but for exams.

In terms of writing for such sites, I'd think poorly of someone who did--and that writer is not going to be making enough money to make it worthwhile. Remember that the sites don't usually want an A paper; they want papers in the C and high B range, on the theory that they are less easy to "spot"--and yes, I do know how they work. Intimately, and, though I shouldn't have to say it, for a good cause--to shut one down.

The sites that charge a "research" fee give students with money a better chance, while the sites that are "free" not only have crappy essays (which will show up when we google phrases from a student's paper) but again give students with the time and ready access to the 'net an advantage.

Finally, I'm really not interested in what some anonymous writer for hire thinks, or how that person writes; I'm interested in how my students think and in their writing. They can improve their own writing. I'm not sure they can do much for an anonymous hack.

Inspired
07-02-2005, 07:34 PM
There is a bit of subjectivity when grading writing assignments. For that small part of the grade, I do take effort into account.

I would never grade someone down if they are a really good writer and turn in great work.

I really don't agree with the professors and teachers that give kids passing grades just because of effort. I want to know my heart surgeon knows what he's doing, not just that he tried his best. I'm not in favor of that mentality at all!

Maybe what I do could be called grade inflation (though I think most teachers would disagree,) but my grades reflect the final outcome, not just the effort. In fact, the majority of the grade is based on reaching the objectives. If I'm grading who really learned to write better, that should also be reflected in someone's grades.



Now, back to buying and selling essays. Don't you think it would discourage a student from learning if they knew they could get away with turning in someone else's work? I don't see how they achieve ANY educational objectives or grow if they participated in such a thing. And, from the writing perspective, don't you feel it cheapens your work?

Ace
07-02-2005, 08:06 PM
You know that I was just playing devil's advocate, but don't you think it's sort of sad that students' essays just go to waste after they're turned in? I could see the motive of submitting your essay to one of those websites as the motive of someone who makes a time capsule. They won't see the outcome, but they're reaching someone. Technically, the whole internet was really founded on the principal of people being able to share their academic work. Perhaps in a society where learning is highly regarded, people would submit and read essays for the heck of it. I found myself going through a whole bunch of those free essays. Most of them were terrible, but a couple of them were slightly insightful. If honors or AP students shared their work, people might be able to get something out of their analysis.

Unique
07-02-2005, 08:44 PM
You know that I was just playing devil's advocate, but don't you think it's sort of sad that students' essays just go to waste after they're turned in?

Well, Ace- I've saved mine - though they were few; my field was biology and I wasn't required to write many. However, I would never think of selling them - to anyone, for any reason. I refer to them from time to time; sometimes to gauge my growth as a writer - sometimes to remember a point I made - but sell them? It would never occur to me to do that. But I certainly don't consider them 'wasted'.

Most of them were terrible, but a couple of them were slightly insightful. If honors or AP students shared their work, people might be able to get something out of their analysis .

A website for honors students to share their work is a fine idea. Why don't you start one? (I'd recommend a 'lock-down' function if such a thing exists.)

Medievalist
07-02-2005, 09:15 PM
Increasingly essays live on in databases used to spot plagiarism, like www.turnitin.com. I'm not fond of this practice--I think it's a violation of students' rights on several fronts, including FERPA, copyright, and more general privacy concerns, and it lends itself to abuses--but I'm in the minority. Thousands of schools and colleges pay for contracts with such services, which allow teachers to submit an essay to have it compared against their huge databases of essays. You then download a report that includes a marked up copy of the essay, indicating what parts, if any, matched essays in the database.

brinkett
07-02-2005, 09:16 PM
I was just wondering what you all thought about those websites that offer essays for students to claim as their own.
Students who use them are cheating. There's no way around that.



don't you think it's sort of sad that students' essays just go to waste after they're turned in

Perhaps. So put them on your web site for people to read, or whip them into publishable shape and submit them somewhere. If someone is proud of their work, why would they want others to turn it in as their own?

reph
07-02-2005, 10:47 PM
Here's another point of view. Students' essays aren't wasted. They fulfill their original purpose: writing them is part of the students' education. As a student, I never felt an impulse to find a secondary market for my papers.

For one assignment in a college anthropology course (undergraduate), papers did go into an archive. Students did a mild kind of fieldwork: interviewing a person from another culture and reporting on some aspect of it. I talked with a Nigerian student (I'm in the U.S.) and wrote about how the Ibo people choose names for babies. Those papers were saved to accumulate the research findings in them for scholarly use.

Work by graduate students often results in publication. High school students, hardly ever. If you want an audience, you can rework a school essay for a particular market and submit it there. You own the copyright. Or, if pay isn't important to you, start a website and put your writings on it.

veinglory
07-02-2005, 11:15 PM
Exactly, an essay is a learning experience. When the experience is over either keep it as a reference or throw it out. You go the grade for it and that is the only pay off. Very few can be rewritten for sale as they are designed mainly to display the candidates skills and they are, frankly, dull.

In the end a good grade says you did the assignment as set and made a good job of it. In most universities there is plenty of support to help students acheive this goal. Some have natural gifts and breeze through, some work hard and use pre-marking, study groups and tutors to get the same effect--and others cheat.

I change essay topics every year so no pre-written model will do and check suspicious essays (i.e. sudden change in writing style, not really on topic) with google and several anti-cheat data-bases that list a lot of the papermill material.

My suggestion is don't use the mills and don't feed the mills. It is dishonest and the users risk zero grades and even expulsion. Several universities I have worked fro expel for the first plagiarism offense.