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Education

Submission + - SPAM: Why computer science students cheat

alphadogg writes: Enrollment in undergraduate computer science courses is at an all-time high at colleges nationwide. But this trend that's been hailed by the U.S. tech industry has a dark side: a disproportionate number of students taking these courses are caught cheating.

More students are caught cheating in introductory computer science courses than in any other course on campus, thanks to automated tools that professors use to detect unauthorized code reuse, excessive collaboration and other forbidden ways of completing homework assignments. Computer science professors say their students are not more dishonest than students in other fields; they're just more likely to get caught because software is available to check for plagiarism. "The truth is that on every campus, a large proportion of the reported cases of academic dishonesty come from introductory computer science courses, and the reason is totally obvious: we use automated tools to detect plagiarism," explains Professor Ed Lazowska, chair of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. "We compare against other student submissions, and we compare against previous student submissions and against code that may be on the Web. These tools flag suspicious cases, which are then manually examined."

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Why computer science students cheat

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