A model programme?
A higher education story getting some air time in Ireland concerns a student in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) who, it is alleged, was guilty of plagiarism in that he had improperly got hold of and used in an assignment an ‘instructor’s manual’ for his programme. This latter document was available to lecturers only.
This particular incident has raised all sorts of issues about plagiarism, about the institute’s security systems, about its willingness in the first instance to ignore the plagiarism and allow the student to proceed, and so forth. There are probably all sorts of internal issues at work there, and I don’t wish to comment on any of this here.
But one thing did catch my eye. According to a report in the Galway City Tribune, this is what happened:
‘The student obtained a copy of the instructor’s manual used by lecturers only, which provides model answers to questions contained in continuous assignments handed out as part of a post-graduate degree course, and used this nefariously-obtained material in a case study presentation.’
The bit I find tricky here is the reference to ‘model answers’. I don’t actually know what the programme was, though it appears to be in the institute’s business school. But on the whole I have a real problem with the idea that, at third level, we should be working with ‘model answers’. Of course I should withhold judgement, because perhaps the answers were statistical or the like; but overall I would expect students to be encouraged to open their minds and to aim for originality, rather than produce answers anticipated or prescribed by those designing the programme. But perhaps I am missing something. I may pursue this angle of the story a little further.