Posts Tagged information ethics

How we encourage plagiarism

Flickr Attribution CC license digirebelle

By assignment design, often students are encouraged to plagiarize. There was a time when the textbook was one of the only sources of information for student assignments, so when assignments or worksheets drew from the textbook, it was obvious where the information came from and therefore no need for citation. Now that students have such access to the exponential amount of resources on the internet, expectations for citation should be even more of a focus than ever before. Assignment types that encourage plagiarism:

1. “Research” ____________ topic on the internet and summarize your findings (encourages copy and paste and does not require citation.)

2. Read _____________ article online and summarize (does not require citation)

3. Fill in this worksheet, finding your answers online (does not require citation but uses a variety of sources)

4. Write a paper on _____________ and include a “bibliography” but don’t worry about in-text citation (encourages copy and paste, does not differentiate between sources used,  and makes students believe in-text citation is optional)

5. Find a current event and report to the class or summarize and turn in (do they give the source?)

I know citation rules are nitpicky. I know some readers are thinking, “Get a life, lady- I can’t expect a full-out research paper on a random Tuesday.” But by assigning broad, knowledge-level assignments using internet sources without requiring specific citation, we are contributing to a generation of students that have no concept of intellectual property, have no problem with taking things that are not theirs to take,  and no ability to deeply think about things and synthesize or evaluate. I’m sure some readers are also thinking, “But it is the content that we are after!” Granted. But we should be asking our students for no less than would be expected of them in college or the work force. Not convinced? Ask Will Selva of ESPN.

This is high school. They should be citing- every time: every assignment that uses the internet or source other than their textbook. In-text if they are writing more than a sentence. The format isn’t as important as the requirement that they do it. Every time. We are cultivating habits, here.

I know grading may be a barrier for some, so I make this offer to Piper teachers: I will grade the citation portion of any assignment so that you can focus on the content grading. I will even promise a 24 to 48 hour turnaround! (Unless you give me the stack to grade on a Friday. I won’t be delivering them to your home on Saturday.) Or, I would be happy to give you a simple rubric to make the citation grading a snap if you prefer to do it.

I’m here to help!


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