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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Plagiarism and Update
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0847  Wednesday, 20 March 2002

[1]     From:   Peter M. McCluskey <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Mar 2002 13:15:59 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.0823

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Mar 2002 15:52:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0836 Re: Plagiarism and Update

[3]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Mar 2002 13:43:38 -0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   On Plagiarism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter M. McCluskey <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Mar 2002 13:15:59 -0600
Subject: 13.0823
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.0823

From Sam Small's response to the plagiarism thread I infer several
curious notions:

"If students are to be tested on memory and comprehension in the time
honoured way then all testing must be done in bare exam rooms or even
oral tests in front of boards."

Curious Notion #1: Writing assignments (papers, essays) should be
omitted from the curriculum.
Response:  Is this a serious suggestion or a failure to distinguish
between writing done out of class and examinations?  Papers and essays
are not solely examinations but learning experiences about both the
subject matter (e.g., Shakespeare) and writing in general.  Just as the
internet isn't going away, neither are out-of-class writing assignments.

"But again I wonder about the wisdom of teaching Shakespeare to
teenagers."

Curious Notion #2:  All College Freshmen are teenagers.
Response:  Not necessarily.  Mr. Small himself notes that he "was 25
when I eventually got to college and took English Literature as a main
subject" (SHK 11.1767  Wednesday, 20 September 2000).

Curious Notion #3:  All teenagers are fools (i.e. 'unwise).
Response:  Again, not necessarily.  More to the point, freshmen of any
age can and do read, comprehend, and even enjoy Shakespeare.

Curious Notion #4:  All people who teach Shakespeare to teenagers
(and/or freshmen) are fools.
Response:  Tu quoque, Mr. Small.

"But I'm sorry that a sincere, hardworking and caring teacher like
Marcia is so upset."

Curious Notion #5:  Marcia wouldn't be upset if she wised up and stopped
the futile task of teaching Shakespeare to teenagers.
Response: Having just discovered the online origins of three papers out
of 24 (in a sophomore-level literature course), I empathize with Marcia
and the rest of you who are fighting the good fight.  If educators at
all levels do not address plagiarism and hold students accountable, the
problem cannot be minimized or even, one hopes, eliminated.

Creating innovative assignments, reviewing drafts, meeting with
students, and checking suspect papers online or in the library all take
time, but if our efforts teach students to avoid plagiarism, it is time
well spent.

From the Trenches,
Peter M. McCluskey
English Department, Middle Tennessee State University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Mar 2002 15:52:52 -0500
Subject: 13.0836 Re: Plagiarism and Update
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0836 Re: Plagiarism and Update

A strong institutional commitment to academic rectitude helps.  When I
was an undergraduate at a college where one accepted a rigorous Honor
Code as part of the matriculation process, black-bordered cards would
very occasionally (once in my four years) appear on campus bulletin
boards: "The Honor Council regrets to inform the university that a
student has been expelled for plagiarism."  Then you'd find that a room
down the dormitory hall was empty of all but the official bed, desk, and
chair, its recent occupant and all his stuff having been quietly placed
on the early morning train.  No internet then, of course, but at that
place not even those fraternity files of exams and papers produced by
other students in the past.

I spent most of my career teaching at a place where the campus policy
set the penalty no higher than a zero on the particular assignment, and
thought the whole time I was there that the ante simply wasn't high
enough: if it didn't really matter to the institution, why should it
matter to the student?

Draconically,
Dave Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Mar 2002 13:43:38 -0000 (GMT)
Subject:        On Plagiarism

What is it, exactly, that we teachers want to accomplish when we assign
research papers?  If we can answer this precisely, we might be able to
develop in-class lessons that provide that and obviate the need for
those troubling invitations for plagiarism.

High-school teachers who find it absolutely necessary to assign research
papers might well consider topics tailored to the individual student,
constructed over a period of weeks in class, the work kept in folders
and collected and redistributed for in-class writing, the accumulating
additions dated and signed by the teacher as he/she reads and corrects
them. Researched sources should be limited to three or four items; these
should be photocopied by the student and added to his folder. This takes
time, but it solves the problem of plagiarism and, more important, it
provides a valuable lesson in the development of an essay and in the
proper use of sources.

L. Swilley

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