How do you curb this specific type of plagiarism?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Caesar753, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2014

    I have asked similar questions in the past, but I haven't received an answer that works for me. I'm trying again. :)

    I teach a foreign language. It is a "less commonly taught" language and no longer spoken anywhere. There is a heavy emphasis on reading, not so much on speaking, listening, or writing.

    I often assign passages from the textbook for students to translate. Each passage focuses on a particular grammatical skill and vocabulary set. It is very difficult to find passages outside my textbook that have the right combination of grammar and vocab. I prefer not to write my own passages because it takes a lot of time and I have hundreds of students, multiple preps, and very little planning time.

    Most students do their own work. A small, but not small enough, handful of crafty students has discovered that these passages have been translated online at various sites, usually someplace like Yahoo! Answers. These translations are usually poorly done, sometimes just copied-and-pasted from Google Translate or from someone who has a cursory knowledge of the language. I can usually spot these passages from a mile away because they usually have some red flags. When I catch one, I find the website it came from, print it, staple it to the student's paper, and file it away. If the same student does this more than once, I follow my school's policy regarding academic dishonesty.

    I want my students to stop cheating. I don't know how to make this happen. The internet is far too big for me to police, so I obviously can't control what they find online. Because I'm so limited in which passages I can assign, the answers are readily available to anyone who looks. How can I get them to stop looking? I work so hard to help them build skills, to identify their needs and individualize my instruction, to show them the value of what we're learning, and to show them that I care. I think that most of them do know that I care and do value my class, but they are lazy. I don't know how to fix this.

    Suggestions? Ideas? Advice? I'm open.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Are there no 'teacher resources' available for purchase somewhere?
     
  4. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Rookie

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    Maybe make those assignments optional for extra practice and the real grades come from things like pop quizzes, in-class assignments, tests, and projects. Perhaps you could even take some of those translated passages from the internet and assign them the task of finding the errors in the translations rather than doing the actual translations. I don't think you're going to be able to get them to stop looking, so use it to your advantage.
     
  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Dec 17, 2014

    Might not fit what you are doing - but could you have them write at least some "passages" themselves, and then be tasked to translate it? Or something else where the "passage" is a unique source that is not going to be found anywhere else (maybe even connect with an English teacher so that you can just take some high quality work for students to translate)?
     
  6. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    When I started to find my assignments on Yahoo Answers, I got creative and started my own account on there named MrsFiddle. My picture has me with a very stern expression. My post is always, "I wrote this assignment and know this answer is here. If I receive this answer from a student, it will be an automatic zero." Answers from Yahoo dropped significantly after I started that practice.

    Not sure what to do with Google Translate except perhaps a demonstration showing how you can tell when the work is from there and not from student effort (i.e. demonstrate in class).
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2014

    The teacher resources are sort of crappy and do not include additional passages.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2014

    Yeah, this is what I've done in the past. I agree that it's probably a good solution, but I just wish there were a better option. The passages are an excellent summative activity where students are really able to pull together the grammar skills and vocabulary they've learned. I don't want the bulk of their work to be working on grammar concepts, vocabulary, and individual sentences in isolation. One of the main purposes of the course is to understand how the language works as a whole, and the best way to do that is to read a passage.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2014

    The issue here is that it's hard to get my hands on unique sources. I would have to produce all those myself, and I don't have the time to do so.

    I am not really able to ask students to compose their own passages, at least not anything more than a handful of sentences. Composition in my language is very difficult--it's a skill I didn't learn until I was in college, after I had studied the language for about 6 years. There are many reasons that it's so challenging, the biggest being that it requires an extremely solid grasp of English grammar, which my students unfortunately don't have right now (although that is definitely my goal).

    We do some composition on a small scale: students might be asked to translate four or five sentences here or there. I like doing this, and it helps me assess my students' understanding of both the language I'm teaching as well as English. It doesn't really help when it comes to assessing their ability to translate my language into English, though, and that's what I need them to do.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2014

    The Yahoo! Answers thing is a good idea. I might do that.

    We already do an activity called "Are you smarter than Google Translate?" They know or should know that Google Translate is bad, bad, bad. I think that these kids are just so incredibly lazy that they think I am also lazy and won't notice.
     
  11. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Make them do these assignments as classwork. Make sure when they're doing the work that their desks are clear except for their textbooks. NO PHONES!
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I want to add that when we get into the upper levels of the language, this isn't really a problem. First, most of the students who choose to continue studying the language really want to learn it and don't get any personal satisfaction out of cheating. Second, and more importantly, their knowledge base is much larger, so I can use authentic texts in class. I don't have to rely so much on these crazy, super specialized passages that include random vocabulary words, only use the present and future tenses, and only use words of a particular gender, and so on.
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    That is what I've been doing for the most part. Where I have run into problems is that I have a huge, huge, huge range of abilities in each of my classes. I will always have students who finish an assignment in 20 minutes, whereas others will need four times that amount of time. I can't always devote as much class time to independent working as I would like, so I have to send home unfinished work as homework. I'm not sure how to get around that.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    What about lightly tweaking existing doable passages? Swapping in different content words - like a MadLibs that makes sense - should catch the Yahoo artists; dropping in a phrasing that your students should know but that Google Translate handles differently should catch the Googlists. In both cases you get fodder to bust their little butts.

    For the record, I've finally found a learn-language-quick book that doesn't make me want to throw it across the room, partly because what it actually promotes is learn-language-effectively. The book is Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner.
     
  15. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Rookie

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    If you're teaching multiple level classes of the language this year, you could assign the upper level classes to create original passages in the language for the lower level classes to translate. The upper levels get the practice of going from English to the language and the lower levels get passages to translate that aren't readily available online. The Google translate issue may still exist to some degree, but they at least couldn't look up popular passages from textbooks and literature.
     
  16. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Rookie

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    Oh I also had another thought. You could create your own passage in English and then put the English into Google translate and then translate it into the language if it's there. Then you could make the corrections and use it for the students. I don't know how much extra time it would take for the corrections, or if Google translate translates into your particular language, but could be worth checking since you would not have to create all of it from scratch.
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This would take about ten times longer than just writing new passages myself.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This might work.
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I would focus on making the translations classwork and giving different work for homework. The students that translate quickly can do their homework when they finish.

    I have started letting my students who finish quickly work on stuff for other classes. I didn't use to allow this but then I realized that for some of my students, my class was their easy class. They had AP courses, even as freshmen, that were challenging and time-consuming. Why should I feel like I should challenge them even more, thereby taking up more of their time, when my class really was just a pre-requisite for them.

    I would also put a time limit on some of the assignments in the hopes to speed up some of the slower students.
     
  20. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I really really do not know if this will work, but what if you showed the students how poorly translated the passages are from the internet--it probably wont stop the laziest of the laziest, but maybe students will realize that they are smarter than the websites? Maybe do an activity where they first translate it and then compare to the website? Again, I have no idea if that will work.

    I studied the language you teach in MS and HS, and I LOVED it--it is still one of my favorite classes and I am just realizing now how much time my teachers had to spend creating lessons for that class--so thank you--I am sure there are many students in there who love going to that class! It is such an interesting language!
     
  21. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    I remember feeling overwhelmed when I first started to put together Powerpoints for my classes...how was I ever going to find the time to do Powerpoints for every section in every chapter for all four preps??? But an astute administrator told me to start slow, maybe do one book/chapter/concept a semester/year until I got them all done - i.e., don't try to do it all at once, just slowly build a core group over time. This made me feel much better, and it worked. I got it done. Maybe you could do this, too...do one new passage per quarter or per month or per quarter or whatever time period works for your schedule. Then over time you'd build a solid library of passages to use and rotate.
     
  22. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    What happens when you give them a 0 ... do they end up with a string of 0s?
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Yes. The problem with that is that my administration gets very unhappy when they see that sort of thing. I'd just prefer to stay off their radar.
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Honestly, I know you're right about this. I just really don't want to do it. :(
     
  25. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    agree with Catnfiddle...I was going to suggest that, on the first day of class, you actually navigate to Yahoo answers and show them that it exists, WHY it's no good (bad translation, etc) and then tell them all that this is their warning, and if you find translations from yahoo answers, it will be automatically referred to your discipline policy...they are quickly going to find yahoo answers anyway, this way you help nip it in the bud...won't be foolproof, but at least you are putting them on notice.
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    A friend of mine earned his PhD in classics when his children were young. He also owned most of the volumes in the Loeb Classical Library, which (as you probably know, Caesar) has the text in Latin or Greek on the left-hand page and a translation in English on the right. The eldest daughter was a precocious reader, so he used to check his translations by translating x many lines from the Latin or Greek and then having her read the corresponding lines in English from the Loeb. (Yes, I have odd friends. They know they have odd friends, too.)

    Tell them that the proper use of existing translations is to get them started if they're totally stuck and to check their work once they're done, but that the work itself must, MUST show signs of being theirs.
     
  27. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I know this may or may not be helpful, but at some point, students need to know that cheating only hurts them, even if they don't feel the consequences of it immediately.

    I've made it clear to some of my students that cheating simply causes them to miss out on learning the material. It's up to them whether they want to spend these months actually learning something, or just cheat it all away, and get nothing out of it.

    I can't catch every time a student cheats, and I don't want to spend hours trying to make the case for each one. If a student cheats, I sometimes simply let it go, but I let them know that cheating just cheats themselves out of an education, and if they're fine with that, it will catch up to them sooner or later.

    That said, my class structure is such, that homework is a low percentage of the grade and the majority is projects and tests, which are hard to cheat on.
     
  28. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I didn't read through all the posts so I might repeat some things.
    I can think of 2 things, but not sure if they make sense.
    1. their homework assignment is to translate from English. You can easily come up with texts in English (you can even write them yourself and it probably wouldn't take that long) and you would know the answer wouldn't be out the on the internet. Or do you only need them to translate into English?

    2. take the text that you already have and change some things in them.
     
  29. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Is there something for the school they could translate like a newsletter or flyers or policy book or handbook? menu? Brochure?
    Catalog? Hospital info?
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone I will take everything into consideration.

    I won't have them translate from English into the target language. They need to translate from the target language into English. It's a different skill set.
     
  31. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    May I suggest inserting sentences that are NOT part of the assignment into the translation practice? Finding non-related material in various places in the assigned woork may let the students know you are truly watching them.
     
  32. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Honestly, some of it is probably their age. High school right? I was an excellent student in elementary school and middle school and college. I was a very good student in high school, but not excellent. I had new freedoms- a car, a TV in my room, etc. etc. I was always looking for spark notes or anything to "take the easy way out" Not making excuses, just think you're in a tough situation. How many students are doing the work well, without cheating? Could there be some type of reward system or maybe even a competition that could motivate them to do the work and to do it well? That might have motivated me at that age.
     
  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 15, 2015

    Update:

    I've decided that I'm going to stop assigning the translation passages as independent work. Instead, we are going to translate them at sight (on the spot with no preparation) in class. I'll call on students or ask for volunteers. I am thinking about grading their performance and/or participation during these sight readings. This will be much more difficult for them to do, but it seems to be the best solution for me at this time.

    The week before our semester exams, I allowed (per school policy) students to turn in any missing assignments from the current term. I discovered at least a dozen cases where students cheated on that work. I'm not going to make it easy for them anymore. That ship has now sailed.
     

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