Paper posted on the internet. Is this appropriate?

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amador:
Hi there, I've run in a bit of a strange situation.  There's this student in my class who barely ever participates.  I've read her first essay in the course and... It's top notch.  Almost too good to be true, so I wrote a full sentence on Google to see if I could find it.  Sure enough, I found it posted in a Spanish essay exchange site, buenastareas.com  However, it appears she herself posted it very recently (the user name is her initial and last name). 

I can't prove she did not write this paper.  But whether she's the author or not, it looks to me extremely imprudent to post her stuff on an essay exchange, even before the instructor has had time to evaluate it. 

To note, Spanish is the target language of the course.  She does not seem to be a native speaker (her names are English) but the paper is in near native Spanish.  I intend to return the paper but keep a copy, and make sure that she participates, just to see if it's possible that something evidences she has near native command.

What do you think? 

crowie:
It seems like in a case like this, with a foreign language involved, the easiest thing to do would be to ask her to come to your office to discuss her paper and then start a conversation with her about the essay in native-speaker-level Spanish.  Ask her to explain or expand on some of her ideas.  She will surely reveal fairly quickly whether she can keep up with you in near-fluent Spanish or not and that will likely reveal whether she is capable of such an essay or not.  It's certainly possible that even with her non-Spanish name that she has developed near-native fluency.  For all you know, she is the child of U.S. diplomats who spent 10 years in Spain or something.

baleful_regards:
Or, crowie, your mother uprooted you and dragged you to Quebec where you had to learn French for six very long years.

Review your institutional honor code, just in case, and invite her in for a talk.

dismalist:
Welcome to the modern world: Why should a student acquiesce in the eventual grading by an instructor, when there are millions out there who might have different opinions? Or, might even get useful comments! Either way, so far, you don't have a problem. Might become one, of course.

Important not to focus exclusively on the live student, but additionally on the exchanges on the internet.

Best of luck.

--Dismalist, who's been there.

mended_drum:
Go to the site and post a comment noting that you've submitted the essay to turnitin.com

It doesn't matter whether or not you actually do.

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