Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Campus Reform obtained copies of the syllabi from Spring 2021 undergraduate sociology classes at six universities.
Universities include: the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Ohio State University–Columbus, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign.
In total, Campus Reform surveyed 201 undergraduate course syllabi across these institutions. This number included 25 100-level introduction to sociology courses, which are sometimes taken by non-majors to fulfill general education requirements. The results of the survey, divided into the categories of assignments, biased language, and common textbooks and readings, are below.
The first time I caught a plagiarized essay was at the beginning of my career as an English professor over 20 years ago. Two of my students had turned in papers with more than a few suspiciously similar phrases, and a quick Google search revealed that they had lifted whole paragraphs directly from an academic website about American poetry that was, as far as I could tell, honestly trying to help students understand the subject.
The culture of student cheating on the Internet has come a long way since then, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it into even sharper focus. One thing that has changed dramatically in the past two decades is that students aren’t turning to crude HTML sites put together by well-intentioned poetry scholars to cheat on their assignments, but to sophisticated “homework help” sites like Chegg.com that grew by almost 70 percent during the pandemic, reaching a current market cap of $8.5 billion.
Chegg is trying to encourage university faculty to partner with it, claiming (accurately) that “90% of college students say they need more help with their studies.” But the solution to helping students with their homework isn’t to move them onto online platforms that could easily be exploited for student cheating. Rather, students need to work with peer tutors on their own campuses.
Arizona State University professor Asao Inoue recently ranted about “White language supremacy in writing classrooms,” during which he called for abolishing traditional grading in favor of “labor-based grading.”
The latter method scores assignments based on the amount of effort students put towards in the work, devaluing quality and accuracy in the grading.
During Nov. 5 lecture at the University of Tennessee titled “The Possibilities of Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies”, Inoue claimed that “White language supremacy in writing classrooms is due to the uneven and diverse linguistic legacies that everyone inherits, and the racialized white discourses that are used as standards, which give privilege to those students who embody those habits of white language already”.