Thursday, May 10, 2007

View From The Trenches

Today was another huge grading day. Groan. However, I have finished all my undergraduate final papers, so that is a relief. All have left now are my graduate student papers. They are generally much more interesting and fun.

As I finished grading yesterday, I came across a paper that set off the proverbial 'alarm bells'. It was an excellent paper, in fact, just a bit too good. I really hate plagiarizers, as they take so much time to sort out, during the part of the semester when time is shortest. I did a bit of Googling on distinctive phrases last night, but did not find anything.

This morning, I set to figuring things out once and for all, with this anomalous paper. If Google fails to reveal a source, then there are other methods. One of my favorite is to check the bibliography. A few citations to journals and books which are not in our library can be quite damning. Again, I struck out. There was one citation that was clearly wrong, and another that was just plain odd, but the rest were all in the library. What I could not figure out was how the student knew about a number of fairly sophisticated arguments, that were not covered in the class.

My next strategy was to ask a co-worker to give the paper a look. This proved to be the correct step to take. It turned out the fellow in the office next door knows the student. He recognised the writing style. He also explained that the student is also in one of his classes where the more sophisticated arguments and concepts were discussed. Thus, I was wrong this time. Rather than having detected a cheat, I have an excellent student instead. This is an outcome I prefer.

In other news, I have been trying to figure out whether or not to accept yesterdays job offer. It is a tough call. Somethings are easy to arrange, other things are proving to be more problematic. It is hard to get a straight answer out of some people! If I accept though, it will provide some employment for my doctoral student who just completed. I will have to keep plugging away at this.

Finally, I want to commend the inventors of the ipod. Wearing an ipod and listening to music most definitely helps with the tedious process of grading paper after paper. I strongly recommend this method. It also provides an excellent opportunity to rediscover some of the more obscure corners of one's music collection (this is the joy of the shuffle function).

The CP


Anonymous Anonymous said...

AHH.. Music does soothe the savage beast or at least keep the beast from going off the deep because of the monotony of grading papers. :)

8:30 PM  

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