Tuesday, November 06, 2007

OH NO another case of Plagiarism!

Brought to you by Karen Kaemmerling, CCCOnline Program Chair

Many of us face the issue of plagiarism every semester, sometimes multiple times a semester, and sometimes multiple times by the same student. For sure it is frustrating, and what can we do . . . well being as proactive as possible is the first step.

First, be sure you have a comment about plagiarism in your syllabus, but we have to be more hands on with our students who come from all different backgrounds with a wide range of writing abilities. Include in your Introduction Discussions one on Plagiarism, what it is, how to avoid it in your course, what your expectations are for citation, and where to find resources to help them. Also, include a comment about plagiarism in your rubrics for exams, assignments, and discussion posts. We might also include a link to our writing toolkit at http://www.ccconline.org/students/rw_student_toolkit.htm.

So now you’ve done those things and you find a case of plagiarism, now what?! First document everything, and be ready to defend your case. Contacting your chair is also advisable.

Lisa Cheney-Steen, our Co-Executive Director for Learning, generally recommends the following steps:

First Offense: Option to redo assignment after discussion with instructor about offense, we do have a lot of students who don't understand plagiarism. (However, if you already had a plagiarism discussion in your introduction discussions, this step might be skipped)

Second Offense: Automatic zero on the assignment, no option to redo

Third offense: F in the class

With the first offense, we might also consider recommending or even requiring the use of the Smart Thinking Writing Lab which is free to the student. At the lab, the student should let them know she is having trouble identifying what is plagiarism. The goal here is to help students learn from this mistake, avoid it in the future, and keep them “in the learning” in this course and future ones.

Are we going to catch every plagiarized paper? No. Do we need to be plagiarism police? No. We need to try to teach our students about the problem, and remember our role as instructors.

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