Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Plagiarism

via Multiple Choice

The referred blog in PEDABLOGUE is prompted by an ad looking for writer to write a term paper.

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The author, Michael Arnzen, is concerned the plagiarism is a growing trend. He has written an article about how teachers can try to prevent plagiarism which has several technical suggestions and approaches. However, I feel that Michael has not attacked the issue at its root.

From the opening of the how teachers can try to prevent plagiarismpost,
frustration with students who don't realize that they're only cheating themselves out of learning experiences, anger at the audacity of students who proudly plagiarise, vindication when the students who in the early segments were claiming ethical high ground were confronted with their own cheating by a surprise 'trap' that a teacher sprung on them...


I don't believe students do not know that cheating is cheating themselves out of the learning experiences provided that it is a worthwhile experience. The problem is that students do not see the writing of a term paper has anything to do with their learning. They are frustrated with yet another work for the teacher. They don't see the need or the value of writing a term paper. So, in order to solve the problem at hand, they seek outside help. These students may be very successful later in their lives only to find out it would be better to have written the term papers themselves. But, I am quite sure that these are successful people because they are resourceful.

The fundamental problem here is the perceived value of the task related to the learning at hand. If the students see the value, they will do it. If they don't, those "clever" ones will find a way around it. Technology is only making this easier.

I am writing this post in this blog (rather than my usual Random Walk because I think the solution has two parts, a meaningful assignment (which the students will see the value of doing the task) and an audience to write to.

I don't understand why a term paper, written by the students in days or weeks, should only be read by a person (may be another teacher for cross checking). If you know that what you are writing is not going to be read, what will you do? Reflecting on this, we need to create an audience. The best audience is the peers. Their fellow students understand the among of work involved in the paper. Their fellow students are interested in how their peers think about the topic. Their fellow students are "in the same boat". They form the best audience. They form the best critics. Why don't we open up and let the peers review, comment and critic the work.

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11:30 pm  

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