Monday, April 19, 2010

Cheating at Stanford

From an article in networkworld by Carolyn Duffy Marsan:

Stanford University disclosed in February that 23% of its honor code violations involved computer science students, although these students represent only 6.5% of the student body. Of 123 honor code violations investigated last year by Stanford's Judicial Panel, 28 involved computer science students.

"The tools that we employ make it easy to catch students cheating," says Professor Mehran Sahami, associate professor of computer science at Stanford University. "I wouldn't say that computer science students violate the honor code more often or are any more dishonest."

Sahami says computer science students mistakenly believe that writing software code is similar to solving a mathematical proof, where one correct answer exists. What students don't realize is that software code is more akin to writing an essay and that a significant amount of creativity is involved.

"One of the things that happens in computer science and contributes to the cheating rates is that students are unaware of how dissimilar programs that do the same task really look," Sahami says. "They tend to think that it's OK if they copy portions of someone else's program. But our tools can discover this."

IPBiz notes that -- significant amount of creativity -- sounds a bit different than the TechDirt view of software writing.


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