Dan wrote a good post on Academic Dishonesty a while back. Mine doesn’t address the administrative side at all so I’d recommend reading his for that.
My planned post for this week is delayed because this distracted me:
Yesterday I began grading my first big writing assignment of the year. I got about 20 papers in and hit one that was completely plagiarized. This student blatantly copied an article she found online. Entire sentences were pasted verbatim, and the most changes she made were to substitute a couple words (ex. replacing “positive” with “good”) and swap the order of a few words.
I was shocked, because I had a whole lesson dedicated to plagiarism, and I made an entire page about it on the class website. On the assignment instructions, it explicitly says that students need to write only their own words. In this assignment, they are not supposed to research or quote anything. (Because I don’t have time to teach about using good sources or doing citations properly, my writing class is purely about things they do not need to research or cite.)
In class, I showed students an example of an online plagiarism checker, as well as what plagiarism looks like to teachers (sudden shifts in style are obvious to us). And yet she thought this was an okay thing to do.
The usual excuses don’t add up: being pressed for time, not being able to do the assignment, or not taking the class seriously. My school is specialized and this is the special subject. Students really need to develop their English writing skills and they know it. Time was more than enough and the difficultly level was appropriate.
The day before, I had been looking for good plagiarism checkers online and found an uncountable number of businesses based on writing academic essays for students. When I added “ethics” or “academic dishonesty” to the search I found offers to pay for papers about ethics and academic dishonesty. I guess the irony was lost on them.
I was literally baffled by it, just as I was baffled by my student. What is the purpose of school if not to learn? Do they not consider why teachers would assign essays in the first place? And how, in any way, is this an ethical thing? Perhaps it might get an assignment done on time and have a passing grade, but at what cost? Who is really being served by this?
Shooting yourself in the foot may be the fastest way to untie your shoes, but you’ll be limping in the long run.