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Network World discusses cheating in introductory Computer Science courses

Network World reports on incidents of academic dishonesty in introductory Computer Science courses, with a lot more perspective than other recent articles on the subject.

“‘The truth is that on every campus, a large proportion of the reported cases of academic dishonesty come from introductory computer science courses, and the reason is totally obvious: we use automated tools to detect plagiarism,’ explains Ed Lazowska, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. ‘We compare against other student submissions, and we compare against previous student submissions and against code that may be on the Web. These tools flag suspicious cases, which are then manually examined’ …

“‘Does anyone in their right mind think that [cheating] isn’t happening in large introductory courses in other fields? If so, they’re smoking something,’ Lazowska says. ‘There have been several cases in which faculty in other disciplines have adapted these tools to detect plagiarism in term papers, and have found plagiarism rates far greater than typically encountered in computer science courses’ …

“Lazowska says rising enrollment in computer science courses is a more important trend than the resulting increase in plagiarism cases.  ‘An ever-broader range of students is recognizing that, even if they major in something else, college-level preparation in computational thinking is essential,’ Lazowska says. ‘There is no reason to believe that computer science students are anything other than better than ever.'”

Read the article here.