Posts Tagged research

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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Mindmapping using

Sample mindmap

Mrs. Armstrong has graciously given me full rein with her English III and Pre-AP English III students as they begin work on what they tell me is their first persuasive research paper they have written since eighth grade. We are basically following my “better research” plan, with a few additional activities. However, we have yet to attend more than two school days in a row since winter break, due to that lovely white stuff that falls from the sky. This means that I am condensing instruction more than ever, so that students have plenty of time to get in there and apply the information literacy skills that I hope they are learning.

One tool that we explored was use of to brainstorm and organize pre-research thoughts. The full lesson plan is below and also highlighted in Part I of my earlier post on better research (see link above). I am happy to report that students were engaged and seemed to see more value in this pre-research/ organizational tool than some of the more traditional brainstorming methods. One key element to success was giving them 10 minutes with each of their three possible topics for an “exploratory glimpse” of their topic. This gave them a chance to add and categorize more information as they built their mindmap than if they had gone at it cold.

I did not have students create accounts, which meant that their only option was to print their mindmap at the end of the block. I did give them the option to create an account if they wanted to save their mindmap to come back to edit. I believe that only 3-4 students out of 115 did so. (I saw those students back on on the following general research days.) One downfall to the tool is that a free account only allows for one mindmap to be saved before being prompted to “upgrade” (which I’m sure involves payment). Modifying and editing their mindmaps just before outlining could be very beneficial, but I believe the exercise of getting their ideas on screen and being able to organize/categorize/etc. was helpful as a pre-research activity.

Here are a few pictures of students at work using, all at various stages of complexity:

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