Kidnapping the Brainchild: Plagiarism: What is It? How Can Students Avoid It?

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SWBAT understand types of plagiarism, when a passage has been plagiarized, and how to avoid plagiarism by completing a plagiarism tutorial on the internet.

Big Idea

Plagiarism often occurs through ignorance and misinformation.

Lesson Time Frame and Context

This is Lesson 2 in the required research unit. Since students need to adhere to principles of academic integrity, I introduce them to the concept of plagiarism with a tutorial rather than a lecture. The idea is to give students ownership of the concept. Plagiarism is a Problem gives some shocking information about the plagiarism problem among students and a rationale for addressing it. There are many tutorials from which to choose, but the one I present here works well for English classes and gives seniors a reality check in terms of what they may experience in college. 

In this lesson I 

  • Introduce students to the tutorial,
  • Give students time to complete the tutorial,
  • Sign them off on completion of the tutorial, and 
  • Quiz them on their learning in the tutorial.

Introducing the Tutorial with Teacher Adaptations

10 minutes

I introduce students to the plagiarism tutorial either in the lab or in the classroom using the mobile laptop lab. 

The handout Plagiarism Tutorial.doc gives students directions for completing the tutorial, which is available from The University of Southern Mississippi. The Plagiarism Tutorial Homepage shows the tasks students will complete in the tutorial. I review these w/ students. 

I ask students to take thorough notes so that they have them available for use on the quiz. The idea is that they have resources to consult rather than view the upcoming quiz as an exercise in memorization. Avoiding plagiarism is the end goal. The quiz is just one way to measure their cognitive understanding of plagiarism. 

Self-Paced Journey through the Tutorial

55 minutes

Students spend the next part of the class completing the tutorial on their own. As they work, I circulate around the room and answer questions. Students often have question such as the following:

  • Do I have to write the quiz questions out?
  • Is it okay if I cut and past? I answer "no" to this one because those who cut and paste are plagiarizing and perpetuating a bad habit. Also, cutting and pasting suggests carelessness with the tutorial. 
  • Are these notes good enough? To this I tell the students to remember the notes are about them not me and that their notes should be what they need for the quiz and as a resource for avoiding plagiarism.

I look for the notes students take on passages such as the one in the image Acceptable Use image from the Plagiarism Tutorial. Are students taking notes on the examples? Are they identifying problems with the unacceptable passage? Their attention to detail offers a clue to the way they will use sources in their papers. Students Working on Plagiarism Tutorial.

Signing Off on the Tutorial

10 minutes

So that students know the tasks they will need to complete in addition to those articulated by the district, I give them a check sheet. Check Sheet.docx This allows students some flexibility in terms of deadlines. I ask students to take ownership of their work and approach me to sign them off on the work as they complete it. When I initial the check sheet, I first check the work and then initial the check sheet w/ my purple pen. 

Plagiarism Tutorial Quiz

30 minutes

In the following class period, I give students a quiz over the plagiarism tutorial. Those absent for the tutorial can begin it while others take the quiz. Although a teacher may want to use the quizzes from the tutorial, I have one I use instead: PLAGIARISM.pdf During the quiz, I allow students to use their notes, and I build in a couple of extra credit questions.