Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Stupidest. Plagiarism. Ever.

I've spent most of the evening grading papers, and have found several more instances of plagiarism, including three students who plagiarized their final paper.

Then I started grading extra credit assignments. The assignment was simple: write four test questions on any topic we covered in class. The only caveat was that the questions couldn't be term recognition or definition questions, and the entire thing was worth a whopping four points, less than 1% of the final grade.

I was grumpily reading over the various questions when I came across the paper of one of my more verbally challenged students. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that the questions were beautifully written using terminology that even I was unfamiliar with. After a bit of googling I found what I had suspected: the student had copied the four questions off of three exams that were posted on the net.

(insert head shaking here)

To make matters worse (for the student), after finding this plagiarism I realized that the same student's final project had also been plagiarized, and this extra credit had been turned in on the very same day that I talked to the student about the prior plagiarism.

This student will get no credit for either of the two assignments, and will have two separate plagiarism reports on their permanent academic record. I'll also request that the dean give the student a disciplinary F in the course (which cannot be erased by retaking the course), and I may ask for additional sanctions, possibly including suspension from the college.

All for a measly four points.

Note: In case you were wondering, I'm grumpy because I have to file 11 plagiarism reports with my dean by the end of the week, I've been grading for nearly a week straight, and I'm way too tired right now.

Note 2: As a shoutout to Semantic Compositions, the title of this post is a snowclone: "Xest. Y. Ever." I've done exactly no research on this, but from what I know it traces back to the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons saying "Worst. Episode. Ever."

1 comment:

Radagast said...

Importing comments:

It would be fun to create a list of the dumbest examples of plagiarism; your hilarious example (John) would definitely be a competitor for first place. However, I have to say that the student of mine that turned in two of my own questions as extra credit would also be a strong competitor ...
June 2, 2004, 6:59:21 PM PDT – Like – Reply

A decent number of my students are also ESL students, and I've gotten my share of "it's normal in my country" and "I didn't know ... if only someone would have told me" excuses. Those arguments fall on deaf ears when my students use them because of the time I spend discussing plagiarism in my class; at the very least they're failing to follow my explicit instructions on literature citation.

I do find it quite disturbing that it's not automatically assumed (by some students) that verbatim plagiarism is wrong.
June 2, 2004, 6:55:38 PM PDT – Like – Reply

John Wilkins
I think the cake for the most stupid plagiarist ever should be the undergraduate who palgiarised some of my essays online (largely at www.talkorigins.org) and handed them in to my own PhD supervisor.

I got an A, I am told, but the student got that F.
June 2, 2004, 5:03:01 PM PDT – Like – Reply

That really bites. Just last week one of the other teachers here busted a student for copying an entire essay off of the net. She gave the student zero.

Of course the student complained to the administration who suggested that it wasn't really plagiarism because the student is only a freshmen and doesn't know any better.

Whatever, 800 words copied ver batim!
June 1, 2004, 1:41:01 AM PDT – Like – Reply

What's even sadder is when ESL students try to plagiarize, and are then totally shocked that the teacher actually noticed that their writing suddenly went from Konglish to Britishisms-sans-grammatical-errors in a day. Of course, they also don't think plagiarism is wrong, culturally, so the whole thing is rather perplexing on the whole to them. And yet, I do not feel sorry for them.
May 28, 2004, 9:49:27 AM PDT