The Waiting Room

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Plagiarism. Wrote a post about it. Like to read it? Here it goes...

Posted by Seeking Solace |

The scene:

Me: Your response to the homework assignment was taken from this website. You did not provide proper citation to give credit. 

Student: But, I changed a couple of words, so it's OK.

Me: Just because you changed a "the" here and there does not mean you are safe from citation. Besides, you have taken English I and II, plus my Legal Research and Writing course. You should know better.

Student: But, I changed it. This is so stupid.

Sound familiar?

Since launching this blog back in 2005, I can't even remember how many posts I have written about plagiarism. And, I know many of my academic peeps have written enough posts about plagiarism in their college courses that all of us could have a series of books on the subject. Or, a contest to find the craziest case of plagiarism...anyone game?

Recently, a colleague and I were discussing how there seems to be a high degree of narcissism and entitlement on college campus today. I am not suggesting that such behavior did not exist back in the day when I was a young college student (I attended college in the 80's...draw your own conclusions about that decade). But, it seems as if plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are more prevalent.

What is the reason for this?  Do they really just don't know?

Perhaps, we can look to the Internet and how easy it is to just cut and paste something. Back in the day, one either found someone to write the paper or found and ad for papers in the back of Rolling Stone magazine.

Some would argue that there is a lack of morals, values and empathy on the part of today's students. Maybe. But, there were people like that back in the day too. Entitlement? It's possible. I've noticed many of the students at my college who think they should get an "A" because the showed up. Somehow, doing the bare minimum means you earn excellence.

So, what is it? And, why is it that even though students are taught over and over again, like my student, the still choose not to plagiarize or cheat. (And, I do believe it is a choice, whether it's a conscious decision or a decision based on laziness or whatever, it's still a choice.)

And, yet another question. How do you impress upon the student that doing things the right way, like citation of sources, not copying material, is not "stupid", as my student stated?  Sure, I make examples of cases and the consequences of such behavior. But, I think for some students, it does not hit home until it happens to them. Or, perhaps some are so arrogant that they believe it won't happen to them because they won't get caught.

I guess that's the $64,000.00 question, isn't it?


Belle said...

Heard a segment on NPR last week (I even cite conversations...) that argued we need a new definition of plagiarism in the era of the net, and that existing definitions are too stringent. Other guests on the segment vehemently disagreed, and argued that the problem isn't the definition, it is the unwillingness of the students to learn the difference between copying and original thinking. I tend to agree with the latter. And yes, I do think it's worse now that it was just a few years ago.

nicoleandmaggie said...

Free your mind, and the rest will follow. Liked your post.

rented life said...

A student at Private College plagarized her summary of herself on LinkedIn...from her internship advisor who told her to make the LinkedIn profile. So she got caught, lost the internship and possible reference/job. So there can be real life consequences. I suspect there aren't enough consequences though. (Plus, duh, how can you claim to do what your intern boss does? You haven't done it yet!)