Purdue OWL, Chegg Partnership Raises Questions About Academic Success

Feb 20, 2019

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Purdue professors are voicing concerns over a new partnership between the university’s Online Writing Lab, or OWL, with textbook rental and online tutoring service Chegg.

Some Purdue faculty argue that, rather than learning the material of a course, students could use answers provided by Chegg and similar programs to complete homework assignments and even tests.

In the press release that initially announced the partnership, the university says the partnership will help students become better writers by providing resources like artificial intelligence that assess grammar and spelling on written responses.

Professor Ralph Kaufmann is a member of an investigative committee researching academic rigor at Purdue. He says tutoring services like Chegg make it harder for professors to test a student’s understanding of course material.

“If you already read the answer somewhere to a specific question, it’s not very hard to reproduce the answer,” Kaufmann says. “If you have to come up with it for the first time yourself, it’s a different story.”

Chegg President of Learning Services Nathan Schultz says his company’s resources are meant to complement education, not offer answers to specific test or homework questions.

“And if we find students, or frankly our tutors, violate any means of our service agreement, they are removed from our platform.”

Schultz says if a professor finds materials lifted from their class, they can request to have it removed from Chegg under federal copyright law.

Professors wouldn’t be able to request the removal of an entire course, though. They would have to request the removal of each assignment or test individually.