The article, “Plagiarism-software earns middling grades,” published on USA Today’s website, explains that a German research firm found that plagiarism software and websites are only “‘partially useful’ at best” in detecting plagiarism and other types of academic dishonesty in student papers. Surprise, Surprise!
I am thankful for this article because it points out two facts. First, students don’t need to be run through a strainer that catches the bad seeds; they need to be taught how to research and write, and that copying work is wrong. That is a teacher’s job, not the work of a software program. Second, teachers who want the computer to do their jobs for them will find that computers don’t measure up to the quality work of an educated human being who is competent and conscientious. Plagiarism software is to writing assessment what the Scantron is to objective assessment— they are tools to make a teacher’s life easier, not necessarily better.
Teaching writing, including how not to plagiarize and why not to plagiarize, is the job of teachers, not computer programs. Thanks, USA Today and German research firm, for reminding us of that fact!