Looking on the bright side, I find that bonuses for original, reflective work from a first-person point of view appeals to the students more so than the age-old, very real form of third-person informative writing. While the standard in research reports insists on non-personal writing, I find that allowing students to get personal lures them away from the pressures to plagiarize the research.
First-Person Point of View Forces Students to Avoid Plagiarism
Students who develop their own authority on a researched topic tend to avoid plagiarizing their findings because they are forced to consider their perspective in regards to the topic at hand. Not all research topics lend themselves to first-person points of view, but the sheer stretch of having to consider one’s own take on a particular topic encourages students to create fresh thoughts and phrases that build upon their understanding of the research.
All to often, we teachers expect students to know how to avoid plagiarism and to be honorable enough, To complicate matters further, many of us teachers tend to feed the plagiarism by teaching paraphrasing as a means to avoid misuse of someone else’s work. Paraphrasing, the skill of putting ideas into one’s own words, allows students to reform a given passageir own opinions, to work beyond the text and make sense of the world; however, without proper guidance and insistence on still citing one’s source, students are still plagiarizing the work. The gist of the article or paper makes meaning. To reword the meaning by simply picking up a thesaurus doesn’t change the meaning that was originally expressed; the meaining, essentially unchanged, still bears the hard work of the original author. Hence, paraphrasing
In-class Scenario of Anti-Plagiarism Directions for a Simple Writing Task
The simple answer to the given question is worth 77 points, a C-minus. To earn greater credit, a student must provide some of his or her own thoughts in regard to the simple answer, a reflection or comment on the answer. That is the only way to earn more than a C on the overall response.
To copy the direct, simple answer from the textbook is not plagiarism in and of itself; however, taking any further wording from the book that refers to the answer is plagiarism. The writer of the textbook provided some detail to explain the answer; a student cannot use the writer’s explanation as his own.
The best strategy for avoiding plagiarism is to take the simple answer, read the rest of the paragraph or passage, then shut the book and write about what was just read. With the book shut, the student avoids using the exact phrasing and is forced to put into words his or her own perspective on the same information.
This strategy allows a student to embellish a bit on the simple answer, think for him/herself and thereby gain greater credit. That is appropriate to the task. The real task involves thinking on the part of the student, so having him or her use personal experience to establish the grounds for his or her answer draws them into critical thinking without causing them to plagiarize someone else’s efforts.
The plagiarism, on the other hand, lowers the credit available for finding the simple answer. In a standard, formative assignment such as this that satisfies one small task credit, a bottom-end score of 55 can suffice for plagiaristic tendencies; whereas, a full-blown research assignment would earn zero, nothing, for plagiarism.