Friday, November 11, 2011

Plagiarism and the Writing Process

I have been faced with several instances of blatant plagiarism in the past few weeks. I have always thought that a good solution to plagiarism is required note taking as part of the research and writing process. Most Language Arts teachers do require students to submit handwritten notes as part of their research projects. When other subject area teachers do not require students to submit notes, a breakdown occurs.

At the middle school level, most students are not going to take notes if they are not built into the assignment. I see more plagiarism in assignments that do not require notes, rough drafts and other inherent elements of the writing and researching process than those that require and grade the final product as well as the notes, rough draft and more. This makes sense to me.  Will recommending the adoption of a school or district "style guide" be helpful in bringing consistency to expectations of student work and assignments? I know this certainly is not going to eradicate plagiarism, but it might be a good start.

Diverse and alternative assignments are great and may be a deterrent to plagiarism. I have heard many people say that book reports should be banned. I believe that students need to know how to write research papers and reports, especially without plagiarizing. There is a place for them in our inventory of assignments. Overuse of the report is another story. We should aim for assignments with higher level learning goals in blooms taxonomy, but not all assignments are going to have high level blooms.

If all research assignments across the curriculum required students to take and submit hand written notes, I believe it would be more likely for good habits to be formed and possibly for plagiarism to be curtailed.

Agree? Disagree? I welcome questions and feedback. Discussion benefits everyone.

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