PDA

View Full Version : How Do I Defend Myself?



closetgeek
2012-Jul-27, 12:42 PM
Up until last week, on my online math course, I have had 100% on my discussion board assignments, a 98% on my homework, and a 93% on my tests and quizzes. I have put my all into that and feel I've earned my A. I kind of blew this last DB assignment which was on radicals and exponents. I own that it was my fault. It seemed so easy that I bypassed taking notes on the chapter. In every past chapter, I took the notes, even if I thought I got it at the time, so I had something to reference in the future. I was a bit short on time between life issues and studying for my biology final. I didn't do so well on that discussion board assignment. I was disappointed in myself to see I got so many wrong but when I looked at my grade, it said zero points, instead of the 7 points that I did earn. I have been asking my teacher for a few days, why I was getting a zero and she finally emailed me, this morning. She said that someone else in the online class had the identical work and has admitted that the work was not his/her own. I just went through the whole thread and found the one I think she is talking about and yes, all but one answer is identical to mine, including my mistakes.

I would not cheat! I would rather my own F than someone else's A. I have been early for every other assignment, and have maintained a perfect average in them. I put over 20 hours a week, just into practice questions (because I have such difficulty with math). There is no way I would risk that to give someone else an effortless grade and considering I am the only one with 100% average on the DB assigments, why in the world would I suddenly decide to go to someone else for answers? This person (if I am correct on who) posted their assignment the day after I posted mine. They very well may have copied off me but I have no idea how they managed to see my answers before posting their own. I didn't give them the answers, that I know. I have no control over that. I understand the rules of academic dishonesty and they have to go on what it appears to be, not my assertion of innocence but what is the point of working so hard if someone else's actions can take it all away from me, so easily?

grapes
2012-Jul-27, 02:40 PM
How many questions were there on the assignment?

Did you get a 7 out of 10? So, two of your wrong answers matched the culprit?

Or did you get a 7 out of 100, and 92 of your wrong answers matched?

Solfe
2012-Jul-27, 02:55 PM
Is this your MathXL class? Your major challenge is the teacher can't see who is between the computer and the screen. If you arrange to call him or her or meet the teacher in person, this is automatically points in your favor. That might not be enough but it is a good first step on your part.

The issue is if someone has your work and you didn't give it to them, how did they get it? From what I am reading, it sounds like everyone can see posted work and this person copied and pasted you assignment (without knowing that you do poorly). That really isn't your problem if everyone can see everyone else's work in an online environment. The accusation is silly at that point, so I must be missing something.

Now if it comes down to this person having to access your account to get your work, then you need to ask your teacher to check with the admin to see if the course admins have reset your password or anything else that you cannot account for such as changing a credit card number or email address.* In the case of some of the Pearson software this is a trivial task, in the case of MathXL specifically, it is slightly harder.

*I have a low opinion of the Pearson Company, so if I start to rant, tell me to stop.

Fazor
2012-Jul-27, 03:19 PM
It sounds like once you post your work, you can see the previously posted work from others in the class? My guess is the cheater may have a friend who already posted, and used that account to see your answers.

How to defend yourself? I'd start by saying everything you said up there, except to the teacher instead of us. :)

closetgeek
2012-Jul-27, 03:33 PM
I am wrong, I should have gotten a 6 not a 7. The assignment is broken up into two posts. It's 24 questions and you get 6 points for getting at least 20 out of 24 correct, 5 points for getting 19 right. The second post is worth four points, if you catch all your mistakes. I only caught one mistake so I only got one point for the second post.

Here's the thing. I was wrong about my assumption, the first time. There is one person in the class that had all but two of the same answers. That's the one I thought cheated off me. I looked at other people's posts and I found one that had identical answers and identical work. All five of the questions I got wrong, this person got wrong, including two copying errors I made. The first question I got wrong, I accidentally wrote "y" instead of "b" for the variable, so did this person. That's the one I caught and corrected for my second post, so did this person. The second question I accidentally multiplied the root number, so I wrote 16^11/15 instead of 4^11/15, so did this person. The third, I didn't realize I was supposed to write it in radical form. I got it right, I just didn't finish, this person made the exact same mistake. The fourth question (the one that really stands out), x was the root and I had x as the root until the last stage, where I inadvertantly put 16 (because the powers were 4*4), the person wrote down the exact same error. Then the fifth question, I didn't square the final answer and neither did the other person.

There is no question that this person copied my work, the teacher even said this person admitted it. The way the board is set up, you can't see anyone else's answers unless you post your answers first. I have no idea how this person got my answers to post. I've only had one communication with this person, in the entire class. They had a question about another assignment and I answered it. That's all. Thus far, the teacher has said this person admits to cheating but has yet to change my grade which makes me wonder if this person has clarified that I had nothing to do with it and/or if the teacher convinced that I do have something to do with it. I can't prove that I did not give out the answers. I don't know where to go from here.

Solfe
2012-Jul-27, 03:43 PM
There is no question that this person copied my work, the teacher even said this person admitted it. The way the board is set up, you can't see anyone else's answers unless you post your answers first. I have no idea how this person got my answers to post. I've only had one communication with this person, in the entire class. They had a question about another assignment and I answered it. That's all. Thus far, the teacher has said this person admits to cheating but has yet to change my grade which makes me wonder if this person has clarified that I had nothing to do with it and/or if the teacher convinced that I do have something to do with it. I can't prove that I did not give out the answers. I don't know where to go from here.

Clearly this other person CAN access your account or someone else's account to see your work. Obviously in the second case, this person is a friend so the cheater is not going to sell them out.

As Fazor says, I would talk to the teacher as close to in-person as you can manage.

schlaugh
2012-Jul-27, 03:49 PM
You may need to escalate to the teacher's manager. But keep that in reserve until you speak to her/him.

If there is a security breach then the admins need to know about it and get it closed. Hopefully they are doing so but I wouldn't make that assumption.

closetgeek
2012-Jul-27, 03:52 PM
It sounds like once you post your work, you can see the previously posted work from others in the class? My guess is the cheater may have a friend who already posted, and used that account to see your answers.

How to defend yourself? I'd start by saying everything you said up there, except to the teacher instead of us. :)

I have. What's bothering me is this is last week's assignment and I am only finding out about it today. Normally, she is Johnny-on-the-spot with her replies but when I asked her on Monday why I had a zero, she didn't answer me until Tuesday. She asked me if I worked with anyone. I am embarrased to admit it, I feel really obnoxious now, but I thought she assumed I worked with someone else because I got something wrong. I replied by explaining to her that I didn't, I just did so poorly because I didn't take notes on the chapter. I asked again why I got a zero. Wednesday, after having no reply I asked again. She sent me the message, this morning, that the girl admitted that it wasn't her work but has yet to change my grade which leads me to assume she thinks I had something to do with it. I am stressed about time because my final is next Wed. I can't take my chemistry class unless I get a C or better in this class. I don't have time for a formal investigation but I will be damned if I get an F because someone else found a way to cheat. I am just sitting around the computer, today, waiting to get a reply.

Fazor
2012-Jul-27, 04:32 PM
At my college, cheating was an extremely serious offense. I assume it's that way at most colleges. Letting the teacher know you're willing to help the school take "corrective measures" against this person would be pretty good proof that you are not friends/in league with her, I'd think.

Tobin Dax
2012-Jul-27, 06:01 PM
I understand your frustration with the time it's taking for you to get a response to your emails, but your teacher may have needed the time to work out what's going on. It may still take her a few days to figure it all out and decide what will happen, though she really should have that done before the final. If you have told her that you did not help this person, there's not a whole lot else to do but wait.

No matter what, finish your work for the class and take the final just as you would if this hadn't happened. That will put you in the best position for your appeal should she decide to give you an F.

DoggerDan
2012-Jul-28, 06:13 AM
I'd put it back on the teacher. Something like:

Dear Ms/Mrs/Mr X:

While I appreciate the tenacity with which you're aggressively pursuing cheaters, the simple fact is, I did not cheat, nor am I aware of how another student obtained my answers. I would appreciate it if you adjusted my grade to reflect my actual score.

In the meantime, please take whatever steps are necessary to ensure my work is not copied by another student. Should I e-mail it to you directly instead of posting it using the school's online system? Would you like me to turn in my homework a couple of days early? Do you have another suggestion? I'll do whatever it takes to convince you my work is mine alone, but in return I ask that you grade it as mine alone.

Sincerely,

Student.

If your teacher doesn't come on board with this approach, I'd suggest elevating the issue with an advisor. Keep it short and simple, something along the line of, "I've approached the teacher with some suggestions as to how we might successfully resolve this issue, but she's holding onto her initial suspicions."

Cheaters don't come forward and lay things on the table, particularly with suggestions as to how to eliminate any suspicion of cheating. Honest people, however, do (sometimes). It's called being "forthright."

closetgeek
2012-Jul-28, 01:42 PM
I'd put it back on the teacher. Something like:

Dear Ms/Mrs/Mr X:

While I appreciate the tenacity with which you're aggressively pursuing cheaters, the simple fact is, I did not cheat, nor am I aware of how another student obtained my answers. I would appreciate it if you adjusted my grade to reflect my actual score.

In the meantime, please take whatever steps are necessary to ensure my work is not copied by another student. Should I e-mail it to you directly instead of posting it using the school's online system? Would you like me to turn in my homework a couple of days early? Do you have another suggestion? I'll do whatever it takes to convince you my work is mine alone, but in return I ask that you grade it as mine alone.

Sincerely,

Student.

If your teacher doesn't come on board with this approach, I'd suggest elevating the issue with an advisor. Keep it short and simple, something along the line of, "I've approached the teacher with some suggestions as to how we might successfully resolve this issue, but she's holding onto her initial suspicions."

Cheaters don't come forward and lay things on the table, particularly with suggestions as to how to eliminate any suspicion of cheating. Honest people, however, do (sometimes). It's called being "forthright."

If I just copied and pasted your letter, would that be cheating? :p

For now, I am just Tobix Dax's advice and waiting and distracting myself with practicing. I was in full on panic mode, yesterday, but when I stop and think about it, she is an online instructor. Her live office hours are evenings and weekends, which indicates that she probably has a day job and isn't sitting in front of her mailbox, all day, refreshing her page. I am just going to send her a request for a conference and hope I get a response. At the moment, I don't know what this means and my mind keeps going to worst case scenerio. Thank you all for suggestions and advice.

closetgeek
2012-Jul-28, 04:22 PM
Just a quick update; she responded by telling me that she will give me the benefit of the doubt. I don't like the wording but I am not going to nitpick.

Jim
2012-Jul-28, 05:28 PM
Well, look at it this way... She teaches math. She's good with numbers, not words.

publiusr
2012-Jul-28, 06:20 PM
I can't tell you how many times I've been accused of things I didn't do.

Solfe
2012-Jul-29, 03:33 AM
Just a quick update; she responded by telling me that she will give me the benefit of the doubt. I don't like the wording but I am not going to nitpick.

Another thing to consider is the wording HAS to be strange from the teacher's perspective, if you aren't cheating as far as she is concerned, this is a "wrong feeling" conversation to be having with you.

I have had many conversations with my Spanish professor similar to this. The first time, I wrote a script that produced (grammatically correct) sentences in Spanish based on a reoccurring theme in our homework. (There are only so many different things to bring to a party on certain time and/or date.) I tried to give my teacher the script so that she could generate homework with little or no effort, complete with an answer key.

She thought that was cheating.

I explained that it wasn't cheating because she could make up sentences at will; for her, using it was merely shortcut. Her jaw fell open and after a long moment of silence, she told me she thought it was cheating on MY part. I honestly never thought of that and said so. I then replied that I didn't think it was cheating because A) I wrote the script, it is no smarter than I am, and B) I would be a poor cheater since I gave her my script complete with documentation of how it worked.

Needless to say, I have a very good rapport with her otherwise she would have KILLED me two semesters ago. If I don't stop saying things like this, she may kill me this semester. That would be unfortunate, since I graduate. I also learned an important lesson in all of this, don't say things like this to teachers without building a good relationship.

Tobin Dax
2012-Jul-29, 05:26 AM
Just a quick update; she responded by telling me that she will give me the benefit of the doubt. I don't like the wording but I am not going to nitpick.

I'm glad it worked out well, cg.

Your teacher likely isn't enjoying this any more than you are, but she has to figure out what happened based on the evidence and knowledge that she has. To your teacher, the simplest explanation is that you gave your answers to the other student. A technological error is possible, but may be less likely. Cheating through a third party, as suggested above, is a bit convoluted. She was told that your work was copied. You told her that you were not involved in that, and she believes you. Maybe not completely, but enough.

I think that I would have to react similarly in that situation. I'd be trying to figure out the whole thing and how to prevent it from happening again, and I my email might be simple and to the point because of that. But I resemble Jim's comment, so my best emails aren't always good reads either.

Moose
2012-Jul-29, 03:42 PM
You're ahead, CG, you can/should leave it at that for now. I suspect part of this is an insufficiently understood technology being indistinguishable from magic thing. She may not understand [thumps chest, twice] that technological submission makes it possible for others to get a hold of someone else's work without that person's cooperation. It's a new concept for her, and it'll take some time for that possibility to sink in.

Moose
2012-Jul-29, 03:48 PM
I have had many conversations with my Spanish professor similar to this. The first time, I wrote a script that produced (grammatically correct) sentences in Spanish based on a reoccurring theme in our homework. (There are only so many different things to bring to a party on certain time and/or date.) I tried to give my teacher the script so that she could generate homework with little or no effort, complete with an answer key.

Heh. In high school, I asked my math teacher if I could write a short program to solve find-the-midpoint problems. We'd been on it for a few days, as many of my class-orkers were having trouble with the concept. I was just finding the homework tedious by that point. He said yes, I could test it against the homework so long as a) I programmed it myself, and b) I gave him a print-out of the code for him to check. Probably my favorite teacher, all time.

Solfe
2012-Jul-29, 06:24 PM
Heh. In high school, I asked my math teacher if I could write a short program to solve find-the-midpoint problems. We'd been on it for a few days, as many of my class-orkers were having trouble with the concept. I was just finding the homework tedious by that point. He said yes, I could test it against the homework so long as a) I programmed it myself, and b) I gave him a print-out of the code for him to check. Probably my favorite teacher, all time.

My problem is being of a troubleshooting mind set. It never occurred to me to ask if such a thing was desired before coming to a possible solution.

Always ask first...

closetgeek
2012-Jul-29, 08:41 PM
I'm glad it worked out well, cg.

Your teacher likely isn't enjoying this any more than you are, but she has to figure out what happened based on the evidence and knowledge that she has. To your teacher, the simplest explanation is that you gave your answers to the other student. A technological error is possible, but may be less likely. Cheating through a third party, as suggested above, is a bit convoluted. She was told that your work was copied. You told her that you were not involved in that, and she believes you. Maybe not completely, but enough.

I think that I would have to react similarly in that situation. I'd be trying to figure out the whole thing and how to prevent it from happening again, and I my email might be simple and to the point because of that. But I resemble Jim's comment, so my best emails aren't always good reads either.

I am happy. No one likes being accused of wrong-doing when they didn't do anything wrong. I will gladly take the benefit of the doubt over presumed guilty, though. I just basically told her that I have no reason to copy anyone else's work because I've been doing fine, on my own. I put a lot of work (totalled 122 hrs this semester in practice, homework, and videos) which she can see. I wouldn't risk throwing that all away so someone 20 years younger than me thinks I am cool. Short of answering one question this person asked me, I have not had any communication with them, at all. She accepted that and though, I am human, I would like total vindication, "I am sorry I ever doubted you. You are my best student..." or something like that, but I am more than happy to settle for a grade on the assignment.

Moose, my guess is that person found use of the edit feature. He/she probably posted the assignment, copied my answers, and then edited his/her post with my answers. I edited a post, once and it doesn't show in the thread that my post was edited so I don't even know if the teacher can see if a post has been edited. I don't want to push the discussion any further but I would like to know how my work was copied. If it is just a matter of editing, that is something that the online class programmers should look into. If she somehow had access to my account, than my security is at risk. I am not sure if it's worth it, since the class ends next week. We have no more assigments to post.

closetgeek
2012-Jul-29, 08:42 PM
Solfe, I am sorry, I never saw your question. No the assignment was given out and posted on the actual class website. We use XL and yes, it is glichy, but this incident had nothing to do with XL.

Moose
2012-Jul-29, 11:29 PM
Moose, my guess is that person found use of the edit feature. He/she probably posted the assignment, copied my answers, and then edited his/her post with my answers. I edited a post, once and it doesn't show in the thread that my post was edited so I don't even know if the teacher can see if a post has been edited.

Plausible.

By any chance, is XL's message board component based on vBulliten? If so, then yes, anybody with moderator level access can review all edits, including the nature of such edits. If so, that would definitively clear you. Their posts will be edited with a paste of your answers, timestamped after your post, with the changes color coded. Your answers will be present in the original post record, with the earliest timestamp.

Solfe
2012-Jul-29, 11:39 PM
Are you in an environment like angel? That software is much better than XL.

Tobin Dax
2012-Jul-30, 01:27 AM
The class is probably using Angel or Blackboard. I honestly haven't looked to see if an instructor can track edits in Blackboard, but I know that they can turn editing off in the discussion boards.

closetgeek
2012-Jul-30, 01:36 AM
Plausible.

By any chance, is XL's message board component based on vBulliten? If so, then yes, anybody with moderator level access can review all edits, including the nature of such edits. If so, that would definitively clear you. Their posts will be edited with a paste of your answers, timestamped after your post, with the changes color coded. Your answers will be present in the original post record, with the earliest timestamp.

We use XL for the homework, quizzes, and tests. The Discussion Boards, where the assignment was is Angel.

closetgeek
2012-Jul-30, 01:38 AM
Are you in an environment like angel? That software is much better than XL.

Yes, I generally like Angel. My next math class will be a hybrid, so I will still be using it for some of the work.

Solfe
2012-Jul-30, 03:33 AM
Yes, I generally like Angel. My next math class will be a hybrid, so I will still be using it for some of the work.

Angel can be very nice or very bad depending on how the teacher uses it. The best thing is the communication system so you can talk and chat with other students.

My favorite "bad" experience was a teacher who gave Angel assignments with a due date stated as "before class" rather than a specific time. She locked out the homework manually before entering the classroom, just a few minutes before class. Her response to people who were locked out was "5-10 minutes isn't enough time, you will either be late for my class or be sitting in the class doing the homework while I review the homework." I found that answer amusing.

The other Ha-ha moment with Angel was a teacher who would tell us homework is due midnight on Tuesday, and then set the time for 12:00 am Tuesday. Technically Tuesday but not what most of us expected. He was extremely nice about it and extended the time.

The worst experience was when I had to turn in a research paper as a final project. The final project was submitted via Angel to Turnitin.com. Turnitin.com had just made an update to their system and my OS was no longer a "valid option". By the time I got to another computer with a different OS, time expired and I couldn't submit my paper.

Guess what the topic of my paper was? Plagiarism. I nearly had a heart attack. My teacher accepted the paper via email without any trouble.

Tobin Dax
2012-Jul-30, 06:43 AM
The other Ha-ha moment with Angel was a teacher who would tell us homework is due midnight on Tuesday, and then set the time for 12:00 am Tuesday. Technically Tuesday but not what most of us expected. He was extremely nice about it and extended the time.

Blackboard has and "End of Day" option, for 11:59 p.m. I use that instead of midnight. Of course, my online courses have students from two time zones, so I enter 1:00 a.m. the following day into the software and still say 11:59 p.m.

closetgeek
2012-Jul-30, 12:53 PM
Angel can be very nice or very bad depending on how the teacher uses it. The best thing is the communication system so you can talk and chat with other students.

My favorite "bad" experience was a teacher who gave Angel assignments with a due date stated as "before class" rather than a specific time. She locked out the homework manually before entering the classroom, just a few minutes before class. Her response to people who were locked out was "5-10 minutes isn't enough time, you will either be late for my class or be sitting in the class doing the homework while I review the homework." I found that answer amusing.

The other Ha-ha moment with Angel was a teacher who would tell us homework is due midnight on Tuesday, and then set the time for 12:00 am Tuesday. Technically Tuesday but not what most of us expected. He was extremely nice about it and extended the time.

The worst experience was when I had to turn in a research paper as a final project. The final project was submitted via Angel to Turnitin.com. Turnitin.com had just made an update to their system and my OS was no longer a "valid option". By the time I got to another computer with a different OS, time expired and I couldn't submit my paper.

Guess what the topic of my paper was? Plagiarism. I nearly had a heart attack. My teacher accepted the paper via email without any trouble.

Oh how perfect would it have been to be accused of plagiarizing a paper of plagiarism?

I have yet to have an actual "class" on Angel. In math, the majority of our work is on XL. The videos are usually pretty good but once or twice I would really prefer to be able to stop the teacher and say, "wait, how does that work?" The only thing I really don't like about the videos is that they are broken up into different parts and the last part is the interactive concept check. That's all fine but then all the sections of the video are broken down and reposted. You have to watch all of the videos to get 100% in that section. I really wouldn't mind watching a second video of different problems and solutions but watching her solve the same exact problem gets really redundant and not always helpful if I am not 100% on it, the first time around.

The one thing I dislike about Angel is taking Biology quizzes. Some questions require us to type out answers and even the slightest difference between what we type as an answer and what the teacher types as an answer (capitol letters, comma instead of the word and, etc) will automatically mark it wrong. While it's always pleasant to find out you actually scored in the 90's rather than the 70's, I always spend at least a day wondering how poorly I've actually done on the test.

Solfe
2012-Jul-30, 02:27 PM
Biology sounds like a terrible class for Angel. The testing system is rather simple, which is good for math. There is the option for double grading by the teacher, she creates a test with key and the system grades automatically. Then the teacher can modify that grade and give feedback.

My plagiarism paper was rather contentious.

As a student, I don't mind it but when confronted with a tool that does citation perfectly wonder why that tool is not in my hands, not my teachers. I am paying for it as a part of my lab fees AND the website offers to sell me their services independently, a fact that is slightly insulting.

As a website owner, I strongly dislike people selling my content without compensating me. As a tax payer, I dislike subsidising a for profit company.

In my paper, I suggested using free service providers to eliminate all of these issues. Those that provide equal access for teachers and students. They don't sell other peoples content, and are supported by donations not payments. Generally, they are not for profit, but could be if many people use them.

When my paper was rejected, I had a variety of reasons to want to crawl under a rock and die. <smiley>

Thanks to this glitch, I have only submitted one paper to turnitin.com, and it was something I wrote in ten minutes with no citation at all as we could only work from a single provided book.

DoggerDan
2012-Jul-31, 04:50 AM
If I just copied and pasted your letter, would that be cheating? :p

Lol, not at all, if the words ring true. Good to hear though she responded and said she'd give you the benefit of the doubt.