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.


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.

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!

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.