In their grievance allegations against Dr Howard Fredrics, complainants claimed that it was Dr Fredrics's 'negative attitude' towards students that was causing problems in his modules.
In order for this to be a fair allegation, one must look at the general tenor and tone of discourse among staff regarding students in the School. For if criticism of students is widespread, then can one staff member's supposedly negative 'attitude' (assuming that it was, indeed, negative) be the cause of all of the problems in the School's modules?
After you read the following comments sent by e-mail by Ms Gloria Toplis and Dr Tim Ewers, you will have a better idea of how staff members in the School routinely refer to students and, presumably, how they really feel about the quality of students in the School.
Do you find the attitude of any of these staff members to be in any way 'negative' towards students?
What is the difference between voicing genuine concern about student achievment and making nasty comments?
Just what did Ms Toplis mean when she referred to a student's 'covert' agenda? Bear in mind that this student was of African origin.
And what did Dr Osbon mean when he referred to a student as an "ignorant c---t?"
Do you think that such use of language should amount to breaches of the University's Dignity While Studying policy, bearing in mind that specific students are named in these e-mail messages?
What do YOU think?
Takes Early 'Retirement' Package
Following the premature strike-out of Dr Howard Fredrics' Employment Tribunal claim against Kingston University, Ms Toplis has apparently decided to accept an early 'retirement' package from the University.
Was she no longer of use to the University, once her role as a witness in the Tribunal case became unnecessary?
Did the University give her a special 'sweetheart' deal to reward her for upholding the 'party line' position?
Or did she see the writing on the wall of compulsory redundancy, were she to refuse the University's offer?
In any event, we wish Ms Toplis a pleasant retirement, secure in the knowledge that what she did with respect to Dr Fredrics was necessary in order to preserve her position. May she continue to be comforted by her regular attendance at church.
Is Plagiarism Rampant
In Kingston University's
School of Music?
In Music Technology classes at Kingston, students were routinely asked to produce assignments using computer software. Many students worked hard to complete these assignments at a high standard. But some students, rather than attending class and completing the assignments, decided to collude by copying each other's assignments, handing in identical disks of assignment files that were identically time/date stamped.
Here are three examples of staff members informing Senior Lecturer and Module Leader, Dr Howard Fredrics of findings of identical submissions by students:-
From: "Name redacted" <email@example.com>
Date: 28 January 2004 01:03:01 GMT
To: "Howard Fredrics" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Cubase assignment
Just to let you know that I am getting through the marking, sorry it's taken
Finished with the first assignment and half-way through the second, I hope
to finish this by Friday.
Generally the work has been done to a high standard but quite a few have
submitted exactly the same file as their own work (I wouldn't have noticed
had the mistakes not been so obvious and entirely consistent). I will be
giving these works zero unless the people who copied can tell me whose work
it originally was.
From: Name redacted <email@example.com>
Date: 3 May 2004 15:46:18 BST
Subject: xxxxx xxxxxx re sibelius
Hi Howard, sorry to bother you about sibelius again. Do I need to retain the students work and just give then the marks or does the work go back to them? I presume that the marks then need to go to someone in the office? I have three absolutely identical assignments from xxxxxx xxxxx, xxx xxxx and xxxx xxxxxx. These are obviously just three printouts from the same file. How would you like me to deal with this, should they be passed to xxxxxxx?
Attendance is pretty bad in this class (mostly less than 50%) only sixteen out of the thirty two on my list even bothered to hand in the first assignment at all, and three of those were copied. This is a really terrible group! (with a few honourable exceptions).
From: "Name redacted" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 25 March 2004 23:52:10 GMT
To: "Howard Fredrics" <email@example.com>
Subject: sibelius marks
Sorry this took me so long. Marks for the Sibelius pieces are attached with the Cubase marks to follow. Generally the standard was good (although poor old Boccherini's name came in for a massacring) excepting those who copied. The yellow boxes means the student didn't submit the work (or at least I couldn't find it) and there may well be students missing.
Hope you're keeping well, would be good to catch up.
All the best,
The following is an initial response from BMus Course Director, Gloria Toplis:-
From: "Gloria Toplis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 28 January 2004 11:51:02 GMT
Subject: Re: Plagiarism in Science & Tech
Hi, Howard - oh dear!! I don't seem to be able to communicate
anything at all to these students. Everything fails. What has
happened to our kids?
Please let me have names and evidence asap. Gloria
Yet thereafter, no sanctions of academic misconduct were applied to the myriad number of students that handed in identical disks of assignments, depsite the irrefutable nature of the evidence and the timely reporting of the infractions:-
From: "Gloria Toplis" <xxxx>
Date: 25 June 2004 16:14:32 BST
Cc: c.gartrell@xxxxxxx, xxxxxx@xxxxxx
Subject: Re: Plagiarism cases
Howard - I reply to your message (below):
The cases of plagiarism in year 2 are xxx xxx, xxxx xxxxx,
They apply to Real time and Non real time...
xxxxxx has not been resolved but we should discuss in the MAB.
I have told Sarah to put Z against these.
Plagiarism in year 1 is really problematic I think. With respect to
semester 1 students, apart from xxxxx xxxxxx who took a piece of
work from xxxxx xxxxx, it seems that students who have been
sharing computers have been making the assumption that it was
oK for them to work together to some extent, though all understood
that you had asked for an individual submission. xxxx xxxx did not
let me know that there was a problem. This has led to a very unfair
situation: some students have been hauled in for an interview with
the Head of School and others have not.
With respect to those who took the module in semester 2, they
claim to have been working together under the nose of xxxx
xxxxxx. Apparently his lectures consist of their working the
assignment and so he has been giving the same advice to all
students who happen to be in the room at the time. All of the
students we have interviewed who took the module in semester are
really conscientious students who have been losing sleep over
what seems to me to have been a very genuine misunderstanding.
All students seen by xxxx and me have been advised to redo the
work before the end of the term whilst facilities are available - those
we have not seen have not received this advice.
I am very concerned about our treatment of year 1 students in this
module because I feel XXX's indisposition coupled with xxxx's failure
to communicate has caused us to demonstrate unfairness and
inconsistency. I would like to discuss with you and CG what we
should do about the matter. If it had not been for xxxxx's students
we could simply have said that the students in question failed the
piece of work and had to resubmit. However, it seems that there is
a fresh set of cases.
Whatever we do in this module I feel we should not record the 0Z
on the marksheet and that we should write to the students we have
interviewed warning them that they should check carefully before
they ever work as a group again, but that we have not formally
recorded an act of academic misconduct.
Perhaps we can talk early next week?
Given the nature of the evidence and the scope of the plagiarism/collusion, why weren't these students subjected to strong sanctions?
Could it be because the University was afraid of losing too many students if they actually held students to account for acts of academic misconduct?
What do YOU think?
Moreover, because Dr Fredrics was unable to finalize marks for the students accused of plagiarism/collusion, pending the outcome of the 'investigation,' he asked Ms Toplis about the status of these cases during the Module Assessment Boards (MAB) in the presence of External Examiners.
In response to his having blown the whistle on rampant plagiarism/collusion, Dr Fredrics stood accused, as part of a collective grievance filed by eleven colleagues, of being derelict in his duties for not having submitted all of his marks on time.
But how, indeed, could he have submitted all of his marks if he was still awaiting the outcome of the 'investigation' at the time of the MAB?
The following is correspondence between one of the lecturers who discovered cases of plagiarism/collusion and Dr Fredrics:-
Sent: Sun 6/27/2004 10:36 PM
Subject: xxxx xxxxxx re plagiarism marks
Hi Howard, thanks for the last mail with the update on Gloria's response to
the plagiarism cases. As you can see I share your views and have made it known
in the last mail I sent to Gloria and copied to you. There's not much more
than that I can do about it as I am not really being kept in the loop as to
what is happening re these cases.
As regards the marks there are five cases of plagiarism that I put forward
for the Sibelius assignments and three for the Software synthesis and DSP. In
all cases I just left a blank and so at the moment there will appear to be no
difference between the non submissions and the plagiarism cases. I don't see
how I can really provide even provisional marks for identical work. If there
is anything further I can do to clarify then let me know. xxxxx xxxx...
Date: 30 June 2004 14:50:28 BST
Subject: RE: xxxxxx xxxxxx re plagiarism marks
I'm afraid that I will need marks for the plagiarised work afterall. (Can't say I didn't warn you.) At the MAB yesterday, it was decided (with one dissent - me) that these students would be sent a letter warning them not to plagiarise instead of giving marks of 0 for plagiarised work. What is most unfortunate, however, is that two students who came clean and admitted plagiarism will actually be given 0s for those pieces of work. Nice message that sends, eh? At any rate, I will need you to come up with marks for these pieces of work which I can then fill into my mark sheet so that all work that was submitted has a mark attached.
Also, for our module boxes, I will need the work itself back for all assignmenets that you've marked in Sibelius (I believe I have all of the software synthesis materials ??). So if you can bring that stuff by at your earliest convenience or else send it in by post if you prefer that would be great.
Let me know if there are any questions at all about what you need to get to me.
I will need the marks for the pieces of work that were plagiarised before the PAB on Tuesday morning, but preferrably by Monday morning if not sooner.
I suppose we'll just have to keep fighting the good fight, as they say, and hope that evenutally the negative outcomes will speak louder than we can ourselves.
Thanks again for your help on this.
Is Plagiarism Rampant
From The RiverOnline - 13.11.09
A number of KU students are working in teams to find new ways to cheat the academic system.
RiverOnline can reveal that some students have moved beyond skipping classes and asking their friends to sign them on the register, and are now ‘tag teaming’ assignments to gain a degree with the minimum amount of effort.
Students involved in ‘tag teaming ’ work together in a group, with each individual student completing just one assignment but doing it for everyone in the group, altering or rewording each piece slightly for each one.
Some things never change, do they?
To read more of this exposé of the allegedly widespread practice at Kingston University click HERE