Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Grade Worse Than "F"

Student: Hey, you gave me an "F" on my report card!
Teacher: Only because it's the lowest grade I can give you.

While we might laugh at that, a Canadian university (Simon Frasier University in British Columbia) is actually adding a grade lower than "F". It's an "FD" grade...failure with dishonesty. It's given for students who fail a course because they have cheated in some way.

I can see this idea eventually catching on in many colleges and even middle schools and high schools. There is so much cheating in schools, that when I was teaching, I had to make 3 or 4 versions of any test. English teachers were always complaining of plagiarism. They were even considering purchasing software that could track it down.

Plagiarism is illegal. It is stealing. Authors are often sued by others for copying their words or ideas. Even an author like Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) has been sued. Although he won the case, I imagine that it delayed the release of his next book and put his life hold for a while.

A student who cheats is not getting the full benefit of his or her education. They're only trying to get through school and get a good grade. They're not interested in learning the material and actually earning a high grade.

Imagine a student in med school cheating and plagiarizing his or her way through. Now imagine that that student becomes your doctor...diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medications, and performing exams. It's chilling. And it should be just as chilling in any field of endeavor.

Current technology makes cheating even more possible. Online companies sell term papers. Computers make it easy to copy and paste any information. Text messaging allows students to send messages and answers during a test.

Students need to remember that when they cheat, they are cheating themselves of an education and the pride of accomplishment. They also need to know that when they plagiarize, they are stealing someone else's words and ideas and that it is illegal. They also need to know that in the future, they may very well end up with a grade worse than an "F."


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