THERE is a disturbing trend among college students to “cut-and-paste” their project papers and assignments. The Internet has opened up a new world and life is so much easier in accessing information.
An increasing number of students are resorting to this method because every one is doing it, and the most disconcerting part is that there is absolutely no acknowledgment on the source of information, nor credit given to the authors of the article. In short, no references are made and it would seem as if it is their own work.
Yes, plagiarism is on the rise. It is so blatant that students accept it as another convenient way of learning. The last-minute rush to complete assignments is usually an excuse for resorting to this.
Having taught in private and public universities, I am aware of the gravity of the problem. If one were to grade the project papers, the tell-tale signs are there. There is a lack of coherence and train of thought between paragraphs.
Usually, it is very easy to detect the paragraphs written by the student and those copied wholesale from the Internet. The difference in the standard of English is very apparent.
Sometimes, several students would have the same paragraphs extracted from popular sources such as Wikipedia. It is sad to note that even lecturers who have been so set in their ways in this new culture during their undergraduate days choose to close one eye to such misdemeanours.
But the truth will be revealed in the exams. Students fail miserably in conveying their thoughts in simple language and it becomes clear that they have not grasped a good understanding of the subject matter. They are unable to express their thoughts in a clear fashion. Some learn by heart and vomit out word by word.
Where do we go from here? The management of institutions of higher learning needs to recognise the problem and if not addressed early, it will be blown out of proportion.
There is a need for the Higher Education Ministry to conduct a comprehensive study to get to the root of this problem. Is this practice more prevalent in private or public universities? Taking into account commercial considerations, are private universities more compromising in order to increase the passing rate? How do leading universities in the world address such a problem?
In the final analysis, it is not only the students who suffer but the whole nation. The “half-baked” graduates who have not learned the skills of thinking will hardly be an asset to their employers.
More importantly, these students who had life the easy way will find it difficult to adapt to the challenging and fast-pace work environment.
PAUL SINGH, Kuala Lumpur.
Source : The STAR Home > News > Opinion Monday August 9, 2010