Code copypasta increasingly common in CS education

The New York Times Bay Area Blog recently took a look at the issue of plagiarism among students in computer science classes. The widespread availability of code on the Internet makes it easy for computer science students to find solutions to common assignments. Computer science professors retaliate by devising increasingly sophisticated automated systems to detect instances of code plagiarism.

The NYT cites a recent incident where a Stanford student was suspended and resigned from his position as student body vice president after he was caught doing the copypasta routine. According to the San Jose Mercury News, roughly 22 percent of Stanford's honor code violations relate to plagiarism in computer science.

Some readers might remember that we looked at the other side of this issue last year when a student at San Jose University was disciplined for publishing the source code of his own solutions to class assignments. His professor contended that making the source code available constituted an honor code violation merely because it would enable other students to cheat.

As we pointed out at the time, sharing code and repurposing existing code are increasingly standard practices in professional software engineering. Collaborative development is common and very little code that is produced today is written in a complete vacuum. Some computer science professors are attempting to bring this trend into the classroom by encouraging students to share code and participate in open source software projects.

Our readers have generally voiced strong opinions on issues of this nature in the past and there seem to be a lot of different viewpoints. As computer science enrollment continues to drop, it's more important than ever for professors to find ways to modernize their teaching methods and find ways to balance the need to encourage collaboration with the need to accurately test individual knowledge.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Internet

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