17 February 2014

Why It's Fun to Think and Teach About Plagiarism

The increased concern about plagiarism brought about by digital technologies and a culture where information and art comes uncited, often remixed with no attribution, brings necessary and happy (yes, there's joy in this) challenges.  The digital shifts open up opportunities in teaching, giving us new ways to talk to students about writing, researching, thinking, peer reviewing, revising, and living ethical, fair, and smart intellectual lives as an academic citizens.  This discussion will look at four aspects of this happy challenge:

  1. the distinction and causes of intentional plagiarism and how it differs from the necessary and inevitable learning error; 
  2. ways to make the discussion of plagiarism an invitation to, instead of a threat of expulsion from, the academic life; 
  3. fun tools and sources to bring to that discussion; 
  4. and the role that scaffolding assignment designs can play in making -- to quote from a plagiarism detection service's legal letter on student copyright of their own work (and we'll look at that letter) -- "the chances of plagiarism vanishingly thin."
Highly recommended: James M. Lang's Cheating Lessons from Harvard U. Press: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674724631