Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Thanks for the feedback, y'all who've weighed in. I think I'm going to give the student a zero and offer limited feedback (the student will get the comment sheet but no comments on the paper itself after the plagiarized material). Of course, I could change my mind, but I'm thinking not.


phd me said...

I so hate dealing with stuff like this. Part of me says go with option 2 - does the student deserve the feedback on a plagiarized paper? Part of me says go with option 1 - offering some feedback on "the horrors" might improve the next paper (if there is one).

Can you just set fire to it and roast a few marshmallows in its cheery glow?

negativecapability said...

I would say option 2, except I fear the result of that will be the student thinking "oh, there was nothing wrong with the paper except for the whole not-citing-the-definition thing." I would probably do 1, so that the student knows WHY they got the F, and also write a stern note about the plagiarism stating that, outside of the issues, that alone would have killed the paper, and further violations will result in 3.

Dance said...

What sort of attribution was there? That is, if the student said:

"as the dictionary definition goes: blah blah blah" making it clear it was someone else's idea, if not words, then I think you are justified in not applying your "stole someone else's words and ideas" plagiarism rules, if you don't want to. But I agree that "didn't know" is BS. If you copy and paste or look at something else and incorporate it, you cite it. I wouldn't lean on a pre-req to make this argument, though, it'd be better to point at something in your own syllabus or links that emphasizes this.

I also think you can give it a zero and still give it quick comments, making it clear that they are out of the goodness of your heart and that you are being as kind to the student as you can under the circumstances, because you don't think his error on this paper should necessarily drag down his next paper.

Dr. Crazy said...

Oh no, Dance, there was no "as the dictionary definition says" or anything remotely like it.

And there's language in the course policies about what constitutes plagiarism, too. My point about the prereq is that sometimes this will happen with students in that class (I teach it), but I see that as a place to learn about that stuff. My class is not one in which they shouldn't know the basic rule that if you use words not your own that they should be in quotation marks.

I'm leaning toward brief comments but a zero.

dr zombieswan said...

I'll often give them a 50 and make them re-do it with a short turnaround time. Then, the grade they get is an average of the 50 and the new grade. Except that at this time of the semester, it'll probably be hard to get it back.

That way, they can take an F but if they really did make an honest mistake they'll fix it. And if it wasn't honest, it is still an F.

But my school has really really strict plagiarism policies where we can't fail plagiarism, we have to forward it on to a committee who investigates it. I think that's kind of crappy, really. But as long as you won't get in trouble failing them (we would, because of this policy) I'd at a minimum give an F.

Chloe said...

I would give it a zero with a paragraph's worth of feedback and invite the student to redo the paper on a related topic for possible credit.

Dr. Crazy said...

Dr. Z - if it were an otherwise decent paper, I'd do the 50 thing with the option to rewrite. The fact is, this paper's not a 50 even without the plagiarism. Our university policy is flexible, so I can do whatever I say I'll do in the syllabus, and my policy gives me some options on this.

Chloe - If I allowed this student a re-do, I'd feel obligated to give all the other F's a re-do, and honestly, just no. Also, my policy in the syllabus is that there are no revisions. They're expected to revise before submitting the paper.

Seeking Solace said...

I would choose option 3. This is unacceptable for an upper level course.

Actually, I have dealt with this and that is exactly what I did.

The_Myth said...

I've done option 2 all the time.

As I think you note, a plagiarism policy is on your syllabus. TONS of students like to claim other teachers have told them they can use dictionary definitions without citation. We all know that's bogus, and if they were told this, that instructor should be shot [figuratively].

They need the F (zero) with a clear explanation that this is plagiarism, clearly inappropriate even if "accidental."

Let alone you note this an upper level course. I'd vote for option 3 if this student is an English major...because you KNOW this isn't the first time s/he's going to do it.

Good luck!

PMG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.