Next up, Survivor: Grad School…..

I was chatting with a friend about life, and the topic rolled around to issues of grading and busting cheaters. Which led me to speculate about how awesome it would be if that awful reality show “Cheaters” was about academic dishonesty. Which led me to write the following:
CHEATERS: ACADEMIA
Scene: at bucolic college campus, a professor calls up a PI.
Prof: “I think I have a case of cheating, but I need evidence.”
PI: “Give me the details – I’ll build up a dossier.”
Night vision camera shots of the professor at the computer using Turn-it-in
PI: “These cases all start out the same. That small nagging voice of doubt in the back of the head. The normally sloppy student shows a new attention to grammar and turn of phrase. New words start appearing and the student gets vague when asked where they’re from. Eventually, even the most naive instructor realizes something is going on. And then they come to me.”
Cut to interview with professor, in a strained voice: “I don’t want to believe it is true, but I just can’t hide from the truth anymore. I need to know. I need to know if any of this was ever real.” waves papers around
Scene: PI rolls up in a van outside an academic building to meet with the professor.
PI: “I have some things to show you – are you ready?”
Prof: “Yes – I need to know.”
PI: “We’ve been monitoring your student’s work for the past week. First, we look at this essay. At the end of the first paragraph, we see this complex sentence – it is similar to this passage on p. 67 of the text, but you’ll notice that while there are no quote marks, the text is listed in the bibliography.”
Prof, nods: “He always was forgetful about explicit citation – we used to laugh about that.”
PI: “Later in the essay, we see him approach the question of the author’s approach to the question, and you see him start this paragraph with a claim about postmodern existentialism…..”
Prof, quiet: “He never saw that in any class with me….”
PI: “And then here, this entire paragraph is an exact match for this article found in the author’s entry in Wikipedia.”
Prof: “The bastard!!!!! Not with that whore!!!!!”
Scene: The PI and Professor roll up in the van to the campus computer center. They approach the student, working inside.
Student, looking up from computer, open to Ask.com: “What are you doing here?” hits Alt-Tab
Prof: “Shut up! I know what you did!”
Student: “What are you talking about?”
Prof: “Don’t lie to me! I know what you’re doing here! I know all about you and those websites. All that talk of background research, and using the web to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary – how long has this been going on?”
Student, defensive: “It was just that one time. I swear. I couldn’t help it. I was just checking a date, and then I read it. I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t even realize I was repeating what it said. It was an accident!”
Prof: “Accident! If it wasn’t anything, why didn’t you mention it? Why didn’t you give me a citation? You knew it was wrong, and you didn’t want me to find out.”
Student: “What can I do? I’m sorry. Let me make it up. Let me write it again. I’ll do anything. I don’t want to lose this class.”
Prof: “You’ve got to be kidding me. You had your chance with me. I want you out of my class now. You’re not going to make a fool of me again.”
Student: “This is all your fault. You were never there for me. I wanted to learn from you, but you were always in meetings. The web was there for me when you weren’t. All of my friends say I deserve better. My mom is always telling me you don’t understand me and my needs. I’m glad to finally be done with you.”
The PI and his burly henchmen separate the two – fade to post-interviews
Student: “Whatever. I already had a transfer to another college. I was just hanging around for the transfer credits. I’ve already moved on.”
Prof, sadly: “I just don’t know anymore. I really thought this one was special. I just don’t know when I’m going to trust again. Maybe they’ll take some time to think about what happened and come back. I think we might still be able to make it work….”

4 thoughts on “Next up, Survivor: Grad School…..

  1. You should point your forum students to this so that they can see why they’re still waiting on those papers from a few weeks ago…

  2. The events and characters depicted in this post are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. No cheaters were harmed in the production of this weblog post.

  3. This is so hysterical! How cleverly written! And how real!
    I’ve hear practically all of this stuff at one time or another from my “professor friends”. How “right on the mark.”
    You had me busting my sides laughing…while sitting in my living room after 11 p.m. on a Sunday night with two “professor types” doing GRADING!
    Way to go!

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