Plagiarism? 0? Partial credit?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by mshutchinson, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. mshutchinson

    mshutchinson Comrade

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    Jun 15, 2005

    I gave my students a project. They were to compose ten poems of particular types and find ten published poems of the same types. "Define" the poem type and interpret the published poem.

    One student, completely plagiarized three of the 'original' poems. Each poem they were to write had been handed in during the course of th three week unit as homework. So, the project was really just putting together the stuff that was already written and doing the other ther tasks.

    This student turned in a hand written version of a Villanelle that I knew, as his own. I spoke to him, he claimed he had simply forgotten to write the author's name on it. (Yet he handed it in with the (write your own) Villanelle homework.)

    I gave him (and anyone else who plagiarized) a 0. Now he and his parens are fighting it. They think he should get credit for the portion of the project that he claims was NOT plagiarized.

    I have spoken to a few people, including my supervisor, and they offered ideas for 'compromise'. I simply think it is unfair, and he truly deserves a zero. My district doesn't have any policy backup on the issue.
     
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  3. ValinFW

    ValinFW Comrade

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    Hi there! I have a strict plagiarism policy...you copy, you get a zero. The kids and parents know this because it's in the letter I send home in August and they have to sign it and send it back. I really don't think you need to "compromise" with them, unless that one grade will cause him to fail for the semester/year. If that's the case, I'd figure out the highest grade he could get on the project that would allow him to pass with a 70 for the semester/year.
     
  4. Emyly

    Emyly Rookie

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    What grade level? I usually give zeros for cheating and call the parents (I'm 9th grade). I also send a letter home at the beginning of the year that outlines my zero tolerance policy, but in the following case I chose to be lenient.

    This year I had 5 of 60 students cheat on parts of their Romeo and Juliet project. It was a large project with 10-12 different components and these students cheated on a portion of the project but did include original work on most of it.

    If I had given them zeros on the whole project, which was 1/3 of their test grade for the quarter, it would have failed them. I gave them zeros on the sections that they plagiarized on and then docked an additional 15% on the entire project. This failed 4 of the 5 students on the project and dropped their 9 weeks grade quite a bit but allowed them to pass. We had a long talk about integrity and that it goes beyond the classroom-- that I wouldn't be able to write a recommendation letter about someone I knew to be a blatant cheater etc. I explained that everyone makes mistakes but that we must learn from them.
     
  5. Emyly

    Emyly Rookie

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    Jun 15, 2005

    Also, I know that hindsight is 20/20 but. .

    I give a handout each year that lists my rules and policies and have spaces for my signature, the student's signature and the parent's signature. I sign it, the student signs it and the parent signs it. Bringing it back to me is worth a grade and it goes into my files.

    I whipped out those puppies and had them in hand (along with the project and copies of the material from which it was plagiarized) when I confronted the students who cheated. Only one tried to argue and he claimed that the other student and he "worked together" on it. I explained why this was not acceptable and he gave up. I had 3 that "collaborated" and 2 that went to www.romeoandjuliet.com and copied and pasted into their summaries.
     
  6. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Plagiarism is stealing, plain and simple. It's no different than lifting money out of a register drawer. It's a crime. It's a sin.

    There are many easy-to-utilize websites that help you check out suspected plagiarism.

    At the college level, a plagiarist is expelled, flat-out. There are no viable excuses for plagiarism, at any level. I would give a first-grader a zero for it. (Yes, I know I'm mean.) But even a small child understands what stealing is, and whether it's an idea, or a paper, or a candy bar, or a bag of money, it's stealing. And it should carry a pretty awful penalty.

    It also means that teachers had darn well better keep up with the technology that allows plagiarism to be so easy. Check out the free essay, free term paper, free anything, sites our kids have access to, some time. If we do not know about these things, we can't prevent our kids from using them. Kids are using picture phones to cheat with.

    Heck, when I was a kid, I would have done it, if I thought my teacher was stupid enough not to know. And I was a pretty nice kid.

    The thing is, we as teachers must keep up with things, so kids can't fool us. If we don't, we have only ourselves to blame.
     
  7. Emyly

    Emyly Rookie

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    I agree. We use turnitin.com and when I suspect internet plagiarism I google a short snippet or a sentence that is suspect. . . and if it is from the net it will pop up.

    Not 100% foolproof but a good start.
     
  8. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

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    Jun 17, 2005

    I can't believe that the child in question's parents are wanting him to get partial marks! I read the post to my husband because I was dumbfounded.

    As a parent, if my child was guilty of plagiarism, I would expect the school to give him zero, no question!
     
  9. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    You would not believe the number of parents who protest any kind of punishment at all for plagiarism. Poor little kid, she worked on that report for two hours.

    Sheesh.

    I wonder sometimes if some parents don't even understand what stealing IS. They probably cheat on their taxes and think that's fine, too.
     
  10. tomas3

    tomas3 New Member

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    Jun 28, 2005

    "I have a strict plagiarism policy...you copy, you get a zero." - I have the same Policy; BUT sometimes it's really difficult to determine what has been plagiarised. I tried several 'plagiarism software' products, but of no avail (I mean - some of them vere pretty good but it would take me a couple of hours to determine which websites a sentence or a paragraph has been taken from...).

    There are many websites that write custom essays for students and I feel it's impossible to fight with that. btw. some of these sites provide pretty good content (sometimes about... plagiarism .. http://www.korepetycje.com/plagiarism.html), but most of them are useless.

    I think Jane is right -- parents tend to ALLOW their 'poor children' use such 'essay writing services' -- and this is the biggest problem. We as the teachers won't probably be successful with fighting both against the students who plagiarize and ... their parents...

    Best,

    Itaka, USA
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jun 28, 2005

    Middle schoolers in our school must write their book reports in class.
     
  12. tomas3

    tomas3 New Member

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    Well, it's a pretty good idea, but.. what about other assignments that cannot be completed in class.. ? :confused:
     
  13. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Jun 29, 2005

    Sometimes it helps if the students are given a list of book titles from which to choose. I always read all of them myself, so it was easier to know who was cheating and who was original.

    You can always just type in a few lines of a student's essay in Google, too. It almost always works. Genuine plagiarism detecting software isn't really that much better than Google, or Dogpile.

    Besides, don't most teachers already know all the reading materials pretty thoroughly themselves? I mean, how can we teach this stuff if we don't know it almost by heart?

    And if you're not sure which of two identical papers was the original and which was the copied version, have both students do a re-write, or just answer some questions about the book. The smart one will be able to do it, and the cheater won't. Instant bag.
     
  14. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

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    Jun 29, 2005

    Now this idea I like!
     
  15. AnonyMS

    AnonyMS 7th grade ELA SDI in Texas

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    Jun 29, 2005

    I saw a news magazine show about that "turnitin.com" site. They had a GREAT idea... students were required to type in their OWN paper and turn in a copy of the report generated by "TurnItIn" - that way, the teacher isn't doing all the legwork of trying to find out if something is plagiarized!! I thought it was an EXCELLENT idea!
     
  16. tomas3

    tomas3 New Member

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    Jun 29, 2005

    Yes, I think it was an excellent idea too... BUT I don't think so anymore -- after I have noticed this software 'thinks' even my comments written on the students' papers have also been plagiarized (well, computers can only compare words/sentences/phrases -- and there are so many people who write exactly or almost exactly the same phrases/sentences...).

    So I had a dilemma -- have I really committed plagiarism by writing this sentence: "I think your ideas are good, but there should be more information about the main character"

    Catch 22...:)
     
  17. mshutchinson

    mshutchinson Comrade

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    Jun 29, 2005

    A student has acces to the world via the internet. It's impossibe for anyone to 'know' every work the students may draw from.

    If everyone is doing a paper on Fidel Castro or The Pigman - no problem, but my kids all to different topics.
     
  18. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

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    Jun 29, 2005

    This is a difficult issue. I recognize that I'm not actually in this situation because I'm still in university, but is it possible to have a class discussion about plagiarism before giving assignments that could tempt students to copy?

    There is a wonderful website that talks about plagiarism and what it involves, sometimes people don't realize how much really is plagiarism.

    Perhaps if you have computer time in your classes students could be directed to this site and read it? I'm just thinking out loud here (well really thinking in type ;))

    This is the site:

    What Is Plagiarism?
     
  19. tomas3

    tomas3 New Member

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    Well, I'm sure most students know what plagiarism is... The problem is -- they don't care or think they won't be caught.. :|
     
  20. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

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    While I'd agree that lots know and don't care or think they won't be caught, I'd wager that there are some out there that don't realize what it is.

    While I was student teaching I ran a computer club and we talked about doing internet research. Some of the students were saying how they could just use the text off the websites they found for their assignments. I explained that this was copying asked them about plagiarism. Many of them knew what it meant - sort of. They knew that they couldn't copy verbatim out of books, but with websites, they just didn't see it as being the same thing.

    So, even if some know, going over it again and again couldn't hurt.

    Just my .02 cents ;)
     
  21. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Again, if you suspect that all or part of a student's paper has been plagiarized, type a few sentences into google or dogpile and see what comes up.

    Even easier: read all the books on the list yourself before letting them choose one for a report.

    For research papers, though, google and dogpile are your best friends.
     
  22. CrazyS2005

    CrazyS2005 Rookie

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    I'm currently going to college to become a teacher, but if I had my own rules this is how they would go:

    If I definitely knew that a student was cheating on their paper, I would rather give them a 0 (hopefully you have rules they signed the beginning of the year). If not give them a 5% for writing their name and turning in a sheet of paper. That way you can say that they plagiarised and still received a grade from you.
     
  23. kingsworker

    kingsworker Companion

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    Jul 2, 2005

    Our school policy is that a student will be given a zero until they redo the project on the first offense only. For a first offense we also make sure to explain why it is stealing and the parents are notified of the situation. After that, any other time will be an automatic zero and referral to the administration. This is in the school handbook and parents are required to sign a form stating that they have read the school handbook, agree to abide by the policies, and will support the school in its decisions.

    If you must...grade the portion of the work that was not plagiarized this time. Just make sure you're prepared next year by having students and parents sign some sort of form that says they understand that cheating will result in a zero, no ifs ands or buts about it!

    Good Luck!
     
  24. dhom

    dhom Rookie

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    I had a parent whose daughter cheated on a test, and the parent wanted me to give a re-take. My own policy is "no" in such a situation, and I told mom that this would encourage her daughter to cheat again. She didn't believe me, but lo and behold, a couple of weeks later.... she did it again in someone else's class. <sigh>

    I do give the chance to re-do homeworks for half credit.
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 16, 2006

    And then there's the kid we caught when I was a teaching assistant in grad school - not in plagiarism, but looking around the room on a midterm. We took her paper, and we took her aside and explained that that wasn't acceptable and that we believed she could do the work on her own. Comes the final; she carefully plants herself away from temptation, she clearly works like a demon, and as she hands in her paper, she grins at us TAs and says, "Hey, that was actually fun!" Made my month, that did.
     
  26. dhom

    dhom Rookie

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    When I was a teaching assistant for an organic chemistry class, our one of our students actually came out to the hallway for to take a break and started eating an orange. He couldn't have been cheating, since Stanford's academic honesty policy states that TAs are not allowed to be IN the room and must wait outside of it. That student who came out to where we were got the highest grade in the class. :)
     
  27. kimmah

    kimmah Rookie

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    I use a rubric when grading research papers or essays. That way, even if they have plagiarized part of the paper, they still get some points for SOMETHING (correct MLA heading, good introduction, something). The huge point deduction that they take for the plagiarized parts make for a failing grade, but I don't have to wrestle with the zero issue. I've never had a student pull the stunt twice, either.

    I use google and find the original work, highlight the portions of the paper that are plag. and write the URL on the student's paper. I've yet to have anyone question me on it.

    I generally have the student rewrite the paper to earn back additional points (but no more than a 75) if the paper results in a failing grade in the class and if it would help them pass.

    I wouldn't hesistate to give a child a zero if the paper was a flagrant copy or one of those that was purchased from somewhere else. My policy that I pass out at the beginning of the semester states that cheating in all forms is subject to a zero and/or referral to the office for additional discipline. ALWAYS pass out the policy before the semester begins. It saves a world of heartache in the end.
     
  28. lisap

    lisap Companion

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    I also ran into this problem. The responses here have been very supportive! When I reached out to my prinicpal, he suggested I speak with a collegue in the English Dept (I'm in Spec Ed). The English teacher first asked if there was a lesson presented on plagerism and the consequences clearly defined. Well, no, I hadn't done that. So he recommended a zero for that section of the project, not a zero on the entire project.
     
  29. dhom

    dhom Rookie

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    Yes - stating all class policies ahead of time saves a lot of trouble later. :)

    When I find plagiarism on a student's paper, I just underline the sections that were found in my search results and write, "copied from the Web." Students have never questioned me about this either once I began this practice, as it's easy enough for them to perform the searches themselves.

    I recently created a site to make the task of checking for plagiarism easier. Hopefully, more teachers will be encouraged to double-check their students' work this way.
     
  30. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    I think a zero for the entire project is appropriate, assuming the student has been informed about what plagiarism is and what the consequence is. Essentially, they are betting a good grade if they successfully cheat against a bad grade if they are caught. Lets say a student plagiarized 25% of a project but did a perfect job on the rest of it. It makes no sense to be to give that student a 75%, or a C, on a project if that is what they would have gotten without the plagiarized portion. If you do that, some of them will do the 75% and take the easy way out to shoot for a higher grade. Worst case C, best case A? No brainer, cheat. If you give a zero on any project that includes plagiarism, they will think twice, at least after the first time. Dishonesty should have a cost, not be neutral in consequence.
     
  31. dhom

    dhom Rookie

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    Yes - mathematically, this makes the most sense. That's why I also hold my ground when parents want me to give grades higher than zero when students break certain policies I have.

    EDIT: Here's a blog entry I wrote explaining why I have a zero-credit policy for plagiarism.
     

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