Thursday, March 6, 2008
Does a Study Group on Facebook Mean Cheating?
This is just a short post because I have to finish packing for my annual visit to my parents (who happen to be down in Florida right now so it's no great hardship!). One the feeds on my iGoogle page was the following article:
Ryerson Student Fighting Cheating Charges for Facebook Study Group
Here's the lead paragraph:
A first-year student at Ryerson University in Toronto who has been accused of cheating after helping run a Facebook study group could get expelled from school pending a hearing by a special committee.
Apparently, there were 146 members of the study group for a first year engineering course on chemistry - they were all helping each other with homework.
Here's my thoughts on this. There has been an increased amount of 'sharing' of assignments - that was one of the first things I noticed when my own children attended university. Everyone tried to get notes and assignments from people who took the course the previous year/semester. I really didn't quite understand this behavior. I always just did the work on my own and if I got stuck asked the TA or the prof. Sometimes, if the subject matter was difficult, we'd get together with a small group and work together. But it seems the reverse now. Nobody does work on their own, everything is done via group.
Now this is great for collaboration skills and discussions, etc BUT I am hearing far too many stories of students piggybacking their way to a degree with a minimal amount of individual effort.
But maybe it's the nature of the assignments. If homework can be shared and same assignments submitted, maybe, just maybe university professors need to redefine their assignments so that students can't copy and piggyback. Maybe it's time for universities to stop being money machines and to start educating again. Maybe it's time for universities to re-think how they assess and evaluate.