Thursday, November 29, 2007

Plagiarism...whose problem is it anyway?

"Kids nowadays! They all just copy and paste! Why doesn't anyone talk about plagiarism?"
This is a problem at the 8-12 level (and probably K-7 as well). As the TL in my school, I have been asked to give workshops to classes on the evils of plagiarism (which I will happily do!). Rather than throw up our hands, we need to fine-tune our assignments so that students must come up with some original angle in order to meet the requirements of the course.

"How can you make it copy-paste-proof?" This is a constant refrain for me as I work with my colleagues. If an assignment asks Grade 8 students to research a country and report on its language, culture, government, history and economy, most students will simply cut and paste from If, instead, students are asked to research the country in question, compare it to Canada and then make a case for "which country is the most desirable culturally speaking" or "if I were to move to this new country, would I be better or worse off than I am now. and why?", then the final project becomes a student's unique perspective that demonstrates his/her understanding of the research that was done for the course. And, the "answer" is not googlable. or copy-pastable!