My friend Nick Kennicott was kind enough to post a penetrating question in response to my last post about the industry built around plagiarism. Nick pointed out that “Ed Dante” argued (towards the end of his article) that the academic system tolerates if not encourages plagiarism. Can a case be made that universities are to blame?
This strikes me as a complex subject, and one of those times where blogging helps me formulate and develop my thoughts. Here’s where I’m at for now, and I welcome any new insights:
1. The reward system for faculty at some schools is all about research, not teaching. At those schools, undergraduates sometimes get very little attention from the faculty, who have little motivation to get involved in the academic lives of students, let alone their personal development. Academically Adrift, for example, made the case (among other things) that the incentive structure of higher education too often ignores student learning – we don’t care enough to measure it, and grades are inflated to make life easier for faculty and students, many of whom are seeking a credential not an education. It sounds like Dante had a bad experience when he brought his novel to the faculty at his school. [The most important thing in choosing a college, I think, is this: What kind of people will I learn from? What motivates them? Will they actually care about my development, academically and as a person? Are they encouraged to do so by their management?]