Back in the days when 3x5 cards were the standard in research tools, the term paper was the core of secondary education. But now it may be facing the same fate as those index cards. Thanks to the Internet’s facilitation of plagiarism, more and more high school teachers are cutting back or eliminating required research papers. Anti-cheating software such as TurnItIn.com finds that about one-third of all K-12 and college papers are at least partially plagiarized. Facing those odds, teachers are leaning toward in-class writing exercises and oral presentations to measure student learning. But these assignments tend to be much shorter than term papers and don’t require the same depth of thinking, leading some educators to worry that the next generation of students will head to college lacking rigorous writing and research experience. Many teachers who do still assign term papers, such as Janet Groth of Clovis High School, near Fresno, California, now require elaborate documentation of each step of the research process. Others require companion essays explaining how the student accomplished each part of the assignment. “They knew I’d be checking and that they’d have to explain any wording,” Groth said. But, she said, “It took forever to grade them.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.