Plagiarism in the Classroom

Today in class we talked about plagiarism and a lot of issues related to it. I found this discussion and the reading about this, very interesting. Rebecca Moore Howard’s article about plagiarism had some very interesting points in it that I had never thought of before, to me the most intriguing point she made was about how if teachers are not crafting authentic assignments for their students, how can they expect authentic writing from them. She explains how when teachers give the same assignment to a lecture hall full of students each semester there is no meaning behind the assignment besides just getting it done for credit and that this can cause students to be more inclined to cheat. If the teacher cannot take time to change the assignment, or give an assignment that is more up to date and relevant to the class and current events, students may believe that if the teacher did not put effort into it that they should not be required to put effort into it and therefore take the easier route out and begin to plagiarize. I understand where Howard’s thought process for this is coming from, and do believe that in this kind of situation students would be more inclined to plagiarism then if the assignment was one that was more personal to the class or the students writing it. She also talks about how many teachers nowadays just assign papers and then collect them, and completely omit the drafting and editing phase of papers, which can also lead students to plagiarize. I agree with this point as well. I believe that in classes where there is a drafting and editing process, there will be less plagiarism because the teacher or other students in the class will read a draft of the paper and will be able to point out plagiarism to be corrected for a final draft. This idea also ties in with the concept of caring about assignments that Howard made earlier in the article, if a teacher really cares about the assignment at hand and wanted the students to succeed, they would spend time on the assignment and a drafting process.


Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Is Google making us stupid? Answer: Yes

Our generation is all about go, go, go. No time to wait for the answers we need. No time to find the page in a book. No time to wait for the webpage to load. Our lives are completely surrounded by technology — iPad’s, Smart Phones, and computers. And I will be the first person to say that when I need an answer, I go straight to Google. Whenever someone asks me a question, I quickly and robotically respond with, “ask Google.” Google has quickly become the hub for all one needs to know and it is the center of all of our worlds.

Nicholas Car writes all about technology and culture. Carr says that we sacrifice so much when we lean on technology and Google for the answers. And he is correct. We lose the concept of research, of reading to find an answer, of being engrossed in a topic and diving into bottomless knowledge. Before Internet and before Google or Wikipedia, if you needed answers, you went to the library. The library was the center of knowledge. Now, I am not sure if our generation knows how to use a library.

Yes, this is the way the world is now. And yes, times change. But how much change will we accept before we lose the sense of reading and searching for answers? We all need to take a step back and think about the way we gain answers to our questions.

The Literacy Myth

According to Cynthia Selfe, technological literacy is all about computer skills, the ability to use computers, and to improve learning, productivity, and performance. These are all important to a person’s ability to navigate through society and use basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.One of the main arguments Selfe has is about what she calls the “literacy myth”. This myth is all about how literacy does not always equal success. Many people believe that literacy is the key to being successful and powerful. This goes hand in hand with technology. However, that is not always the case. Literacy is defined as “The condition or quality of being literate, especially the ability to read and write” or “The condition or quality of being knowledgeable in a particular subject or field.” But that definition is too broad to say that you must be extremely literal to be successful. Success comes from being passionate, working hard, and being knowledgeable.

Although literacy is an important characteristic to have, it is not always the only option. Success and power can come from all different sources. Cynthia Selfe is correct – people need to be aware of the concept of the literacy myth and know that success comes from within.

Plagiarism in the Classroom

Today in class we discussed the concept of plagiarism. At first the group discussed what the definition of plagiarism is, and it was established that simple meaning of plagiarism is when one uses the work of another as their own. There seems to be authors who have other definitions as well. These definitions, like the one provided by the University of Delaware, are much more general in their concepts and establish a set of rules that students must follow when turning in their work. I have witnessed several groups of students who plagiarize a lot. The website holds thousands of textbook solutions online and many students use this tool to get the answers for their homework. I personally agree that this is a form of cheating, but I believe that it is the student’s prerogative to use this website. It is true that they are not doing the homework as they should, but they are only hurting themselves. Should a student choose not to actually work through a problem set, then they will not learn the material and be in a very bad position once the exam date comes. They will not understand the material and therefore receive an overall bad grade in the course and not be able to converse the material should an interviewer ask a question about that particular subject. This brings me to the next point that the class discussion turned to. Why is plagiarism such a big deal? The class then discussed that when a student is caught turning in copied material. The professor must ask him or herself if they wish to punish the student and make it a purely punishment experience or a learning experience. I feel that most young professors wish to make an example out of their “bad” student so as to deter future generations from making the same mistake. I had one professor who almost bragged about how much trouble he put one student in for turning in a plagiarized paper. I much prefer other professors who would approach the student, give an acceptable punishment (like re-doing the paper), and handing out a warning of some kind. This way the student will still do the assignment and learn the consequences of his or her actions.

Plagiarism & Grammar

In our final class, we discussed our thoughts on plagiarism and traditional grammar. What stuck out to me the most in Howard’s “Policing Plagiarism” article was that teacher’s are often expecting students to produce original works when assigned unoriginal assignments. As a student, I’ve had teachers who repetitively assign formulaic compositions, where I feel compelled to follow a certain layout, and even—to a certain extent—say certain ideas. I think this stifled manner of writing often leads to impulses of plagiarism. If teachers assign interesting and creative projects, I think many more students would be willing to put in some effort.

In terms of grammar in education, I agree with what a lot of people said in class that kids should learn traditional grammar rules, especially when young, and then begin to question these guidelines in creative ways as they enter higher education. It is true that a lot of my favorite writers use traditionally incorrect grammar, and yet their words have had the most impact on me. Lingual communication already inherently limits one’s ability to convey an idea; why should we further confine ourselves on the page with universal restrictions? Emotion is never grammatical and neither is humor. These elements are tied more closely to timing, imagery, and rhythm. That’s why I think students should definitely learn traditional grammar. To break it.

-Andrew Sommers

English as the Dominant Language

A few days ago at dinner, a few of us were discussing the presence of the English language here in Italy. Everywhere we go, although the language is not strong and tends to be broken, English is present everywhere. Every restaurant or store, or even on the street, its clear that all the individuals, even the Italian born and raised ones, understand a certain level of English. This summer I went to Israel, and the same thing was the norm. All of the store and restaurant owners we encountered on the trip were able to understand and communicate with us, even if they did not fully understand everything we were saying, there was basic level of them comprehending our English and responding in their own broken English as well. In addition to this, we had 7 Israeli soldiers who joined our trip, and they all spoke very great English. These soldiers were all in their early 20’s, meaning that they grew up in an Israeli society where they heard a very large amount of English. I find it very interesting how the norm seems to be that when Americans travel to different countries, the locals understand our language, but when foreigners travel to America they expect to encounter much larger language barriers. This leads me to wonder how English became the norm language and if this is a good or a bad thing.


Today in class we discussed plagiarism and its prevalence. I believe that plagiarism is still a large issue today and that it is getting more difficult to detect. I know many people who have plagiarized in minor ways, like omitting quotation marks or failing to accurately cite sources. Rebecca Moore Howard in her article “Forget About Plagiarism. Just Teach,” argues that there is a wave of plagiarism occurring in classrooms today, which involves many different types. Howard also argues that this epidemic is the fault of the teachers, which I do not agree with at all. Teachers definitely need to support students and give them thoughtfully developed assignments that will engage them, however they should not be blamed if students choose to cheat. Teachers could minimize the occurrences of plagiarism by getting more involved in the drafting process, but they can only do so much to interact with students. Howard also classifies plagiarism as either intentional or unintentional. I believe that unintentional plagiarism is on the rise due to rapidly available information on the Internet. Many students will paraphrase from Wikipedia or even from reputable sources without realizing what they are doing. Switching the arrangement of words from an alternate source is plagiarism, although many to not even consider that. Plagiarism is most definitely still a major problem in classrooms today and is becoming more difficult to define and detect, but it is not solely the teacher’s fault.