Cut and Paste Here

July 08, 2008 1 min read
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I missed this entry at Edbizbuzz while I was on vacation, but it’s worth backtracking for a good discussion on plagiarism by guest blogger Dorothy Mikuska.

Mikuska, a veteran English teacher who developed a software program for helping students organize and manage their work for school research papers, describes four reasons students plagiarize: “disengaged learning; poor reading skills; lack of organizational and metacognitive skills; and careless documentation.”

In the computer age, she adds, students “no longer take notes, but merely copy/paste from online sources without reflecting, analyzing, synthesizing, or evaluating their information. Research has become as mechanical as the computer. If students genuinely understood their information, plagiarism would be eliminated.”

She says students need to be taught directly what plagiarism is. There are a number of adults who could benefit from such a lesson. Mikuska points out some recent news coverage of a high school principal who plagiarized his graduation-day speech, and I’ve come across a number of blogs by educators that present complete news articles and other copyrighted information without any attribution.

There’s a plug for her program, which I have not seen in action, but it is a relatively low-cost resource for teachers and students. Does anyone know whether these kinds of programs—including those that screen students’ written work for evidence of plagiarism—are instructive for students or have any positive effect on their work?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.


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