Thursday, April 21, 2005

Plagiarizing in a Bible Course

Plagiarism in general is unethical and wrong, but plagiarism in a course on the Bible is grounds for 20000 years in the bad parts of Purgatory, or so I've been told. Of the 37 papers I just finished grading for my Prophets and Prophecy course, 8 of them were plagiarized. That is 21%. Additionally, the largest demographic for those who submitted plagiarized work were seniors. Nearly half of those who turned in plagiarized work were seniors who plan on graduating in a couple of weeks. A few years ago I would have failed them. I'm getting soft in my old age. I recorded a grade of 0 for this assignment for these students, but gave them the option to turn in a revised version free from all forms of plagiarism. I didn't tell them where there were problems, I will leave it up to them. I'll check the resubmitted papers very carefully, and if they are free from plagiarism, I'll record a grade of something like a 50 or 60 depending on the quality of content. But are we teaching them to plagiarize? Freshmen are much less likely to turn in plagiarized work in my experience. I don't think these students are evil, just they did not put in the necessary time to write a 20 page academic paper. Some were so lazy they didn't bother to make sure the fonts remained the same from section to section.


Blogger Mark Gstohl said...


12:17 PM  
Blogger Editor B said...

Does your department (or the College of A&S) have a policy on plagiarism?

I understand the English Dept. has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

The ordeal of assigning grades is one of the big reasons I got out of higher education. I taught in a community college humanities department. The chairman told us adjuncts that he expected us to hold our students to college-level standards. Funny thing was, I had had the same class at the same college some years before, and I had quantifiable proof that the standards had dropped considerably. I had little provably plagiarism, but I certainly felt pressure not to flunk the students for the class, but just for the grade. As you can see, your post really got me going. Blog on!

2:09 PM  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Reading over my last post I see the dangers of rapid posting: "little provably plagiarism." And to think I used to teach English. No, really.

Your new ZiTPiP sounds like a good idea. Blessings in withstanding the thunderstorm of tears and blowing noses.

11:18 AM  

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