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'Blatant Copying' in Coursework

Saturday, January 1, 2005


Examiners for British standardized tests are reporting increasingly obvious examples of cut-and-paste cheating on exams, a problem they attribute both to student behavior and to excessive help from instructors. For one exam in English, sample essays were widely known to be available online, and examiners found "some quite serious instances of blatant copying of material" in completed tests. A number of students evidently copied large sections of material from the Internet and simply pasted them into their exams, surprising examiners by the lack of any effort to disguise their actions. Tests are reviewed by schools before they are submitted to exam boards, which said the examples of obvious cheating not noticed by the schools were shocking.Schools are allowed to provide "scaffolding" or an outline to students to help organize their thoughts. In many cases, however, examiners reported finding student responses so similar that they were difficult to distinguish. According to exam boards, school officials are providing so much assistance to students as to constitute "a kind of mass plagiarism."

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