Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boston Globe advocates instruction on plagiarism issues

The Boston Globe editorial titled Cheating: Teach students first, then crack down includes

Some students commit offenses that they have to know are wrong — sharing test answers via text message, for instance, or copying blocks of text from websites into their own essays without so much as changing the font or removing the hyperlinks. These students may need a reminder that the point of education isn’t just to muddle through. Yet other offenses are far more nebulous. What about working with other students to answer sets of science or math problems? Collaborative learning is a hallmark of instruction in K-12 schools in the United States, and colleges should help students figure out when it isn’t appropriate. And what about writing an essay that argues a point suggested by someone else?

Giving students notice of "what shouldn't be done" is fine, because, afterwards, the defense of "I didn't know" is not acceptable.

One should not, however, infer that students don't understand that a lot of what is going on is wrong. The recent survey in Canada that found 73 percent of Canadian college freshmen admitted cheating when they were in high school shows students do have a grasp of right from wrong without instruction.

An the flip side of the argument, "I didn't know it was wrong because you didn't tell me" can be mis-used, as was evident from the sad saga of Poshard at SIU.

The New York Times article (which featured activities at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL) is discussed in the St. Petersburg Times, which includes:

St. Petersburg College uses USF has used it, but now uses a similar service called SafeAssign. Administrators said it seems to discourage plagiarism, and when problems do turn up some instructors use them as teaching opportunities by allowing students to re-write the work in question.

Earlier IPBiz post:


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