Class conversation on this week’s readings on plagiarism, as well as real-world examples. Also discussed were ways implement Purdy’s suggestion of teaching around Wikipedia and the wisdom of doing so.
Plagiarism: Heather and Karen presented serious concerns. Heather found a student plagiarizing on a rough draft and asks if this is an opportunity to call the student on it and show her the error of her ways, or if she is obligated to file a report. Her doubts grow stronger when she considers that about 90 percent of the assignment was a cut-and-paste job. Karen tells us that many of her readings and assignments deal with a subject so common that plagiarizing becomes quite easy; as a result, she’s going through the proper channels to deal with a case of plagiarism, which involves no small amount of time and effort.
Wikipedia: Wikipedia, some noted, provides transparency, which is the aim of citations and proper attribution when we use sources in academic writing. Others asked if even good intentions in showing students “proper” uses of Wikipedia might degenerate into corner-cutting by students under pressure to finish a rough draft or final paper. Most everyone seems comfortable with the notion of limited engagement with Wikipedia, but some of us seemed reluctant to devote major class time to teaching its proper use. What options, Danica asks, might exist for teaching Wikipedia use in less than a full class period? On the other side of the spectrum, Iemanja asked if existing materials (Lamott) don’t teach the revision process and “scholarly conversation” as well as Wikipedia ever could.
Questions we seemed to grapple with:
1. How does one (should one try to) determine whether a case of plagiarism in the case of ESL students is caused by a language barrier or is a knowing transgression? At what point does one decide to report the plagiarism?
2. How can we teach responsible Wikipedia use while still emphasizing that it’s not an acceptable source (what kind of in-class exercises might accomplish this)?
3. What role should new technologies play in our teaching, since they open up new and, generally, easier ways for students to research (and to plagiarize)?