Random thoughts of an ed admin lifer

Ed leadership and stuff like that there

The plagiarism plague . . .

With the ease of cutting and pasting material from the internet, we are continuously dealing with incidents of plagiarism.  Sometimes it is so blatant that it can be proven by  simply entering the suspected phrase into a search engine.  The more difficult to deal with scenario is that which cannot be proven.  We have built processes into the writing/research process aimed at educating students about the issue and proper citation methods.  We have even gone so far as creating steps that make it difficult for students to cut and paste info (including jot notes, first drafts etc.) and pass it off as their own.  In spite of these efforts, some students still insist on plagiarizing.  A couple of questions come to mind . . . 1.  What more can we do to curtail this sort of behaviour? & 2.  If this truly is a behaviour issue, is it appropriate to grade a plagiarized paper with a mark of 0?  Thoughts???

4 Responses to “The plagiarism plague . . .”

  1.   Dean Shareski Says:

    I think it’s partially the nature of an assignment. Ask a student to write a report on John A. MacDonald and you’re asking for plagiarism. Ask a student to determine who would you prefer as a Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald or Stephen Harper, it becomes more difficult to plagiarize.

  2.   Barbara Says:

    I agree whole heartedly with Dean. As we look at the work the students are doing (Jr High level) we are finding that they know how to find information but they do not understand what they find and they have not developed the necessary skills to use the information and make judgments about why it is important. ( We are seeing a lot of blind cut and paste). So we are going to make a whole sale , schoolwide, ( K to 8)move away from any fact based reporting and projects. for example rather than the requisite 5th grade state report, most of which is google information, we are going to assign the following: Your parent has been offered a new job but your family will have to move. You can choose between _______(state a) and _____(sate b) Which state would you choose and why? They will be given a list of factual things they might want to consider for but in the end they have to make a judgment and support their decision.
    We do have to teach the students not to plagiarize and to respect copyrighted materials but the deeper lesson is to teach them how to find and use information not to recite facts.

  3.   Dean Shareski Says:

    Chris Betcher from down under writes a similar post..same title in fact.


  4.   Sara Smith Says:

    I have been frustrated with plagiarism this semester and this post and responses have caused me to reflect on the questions I was asking of students. In my own defense, as an intern I find that there are so many dimensions of teaching that “they just don’t teach you in school”. I know that in the future I will refine some assignments so that that students are forced to engage with the material to answer the question, not just recite facts. The challenge for me is now to create assessments in science that are less fact/info based, a real challenge especially in senior sciences. The internet provides so many opportunities but copy and paste is so convenient that I am sure that I have been fooled by students passing off other’s work as their own (in addition to those I have “caught”)

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