Blurred Lines: Are Plagiarizing Students Dishonest, Confused, or Both? By Ilana Garon

Blurred Lines: Are Plagiarizing Students Dishonest, Confused, or Both?

In this blog I write about a combination of policy issues and classroom issues, and this week's post is going to be the latter. In the last few days, there were several major issues with academic dishonest in my 10th grade classes. The first was last week, when students somehow got hold of a quiz I was planning on giving before I actually gave it (I'm still trying to figure out how this happened), wrote answers on it (not all of which were correct), and copies of it around the grade; the second was when, on a thematic essay I assigned, several students plagiarized from SparkNotes and other various sites on the internet from which one can procure a pre-written paper; the third was today, when I was giving make-ups for the sabotaged quiz, and turned around to find a student (whom I had just isolated in a corner, precisely to avoid this outcome!) asking for answers from another student who had already taken the test.

These incidents all made me disappointed with the students, which I told them in class--I said that I would always rather a student perform poorly but honestly on a test or paper, and at least get partial credit, than get a score of "0" for cheating or plagiarizing. I also told them that given the review sheets I'd passed out before the test, the extensive amount of time we'd spent in class peer-reviewing and working on papers, and the fact that I'm almost always available during their lunch period if anyone needs help, I didn't see any reason cheating was even necessary.

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