Monday, September 24, 2007

Plagiarism run rampant

I've just spent the last four weeks showing my year 9 SOSE class how to search on the internet, read the material and then write the important fact in their own words. At the end of that time they submitted a 400 word essay describing one aspect of the Middle Ages.

All but four students in the class submitted work that I subsequently found in toto on websites. They had simply copied and pasted, then presented the work as their own.

They didn't get it. Throughout the four weeks each and every student asked me why they can't just copy the material. It's on the web, available for everyone, so they can use it as they wish. Right? It's the same story with referencing.

It's demoralising. I feel like I've just wasted an entire month. Sure I might have got the message through to four students, but what about the other 26?

How can people honestly believe it's ok to say you did something when you didn't? Isn't it obvious that it's lying?


Jim said...

You should assign them the essay: "How would you cope if I sent you back in a time machine to the Middle Ages to live the rest of your life?"

By the way, I'm reading Mysteries of the Middle Ages by Thomas Cahill and it's fascinating. I'm not sure if the average kid would have anything original to say about the Middle Ages.

As an experiment give them an assignment where they have to research something contemporary, but on something they'd likely like to give their opinion about.

glediar said...

I'd love to do something like this, Jim, but I can't. I don't set the assessment for the Humanities department. (I'm not a real SOSE teacher - I teach Business and Computing.) I'm also restricted with time. We had 7 weeks to 'do' the Middle Ages and now we have 8 weeks to do Weather, Ecology and Social Responsibility. No opportunity to do anything other than skate across the surface.