Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Why is it that so many students must think me incapable of a simple Google search?

In most of my classes, I assign extra credit projects. (Yeah, I know I'm nice, but my exams are killer so it evens out). Typically students are given two choices: create a HW/exam question for this class or design an outreach experiment to elementary or middle schoolers on a topic from this class.

In both cases, student answers are always rife with plagiarism. HW/Exam questions are often taken directly from the text or from an alternative text. As if I am not familiar with all the texts in the field! And experiments are often copied line by line from a webpage!

Given that these are extra credit assignments, I chose to not award credit for plagiarized answers. But what about the gray area, not exactly plagiarized, a few words have been changed, but virtually identical to a webpage or book problem. For this I usually give 1/2 credit, taking off 1/2 for lack of creativity.

And to top all of this off, we have a long plagiarism discussion at the beginning of the course. Students were very careful not to plagiarize in project reports, but I guess in extra credit its okay? Ah, so frustrating.


At 1:43 PM , Blogger Kate said...

I know! Why don't they understand that plagiarism is still plagiarism even on smaller assignments? I have dealt with the exact same issue.

At 4:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have struggled with similar problems and have come to the conclusion that plagiarism is still plagiarism and should be handled as such, even if it is on an extra-credit assignment. I tell students at the outset that, even if they have modified or adapted material from another source, unless they cite the source of the original idea or inspiration, it is plagiarism.

Are the students in the "gray area" you refer to providing citations to the books or webpages with the problems they have modified? If so, giving 1/2 credit is fine, I think. If not, then they have plagiarized, and I think it is fair to give them no credit.

At 10:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the students submit work that is not their own under their own names, they should be sent to the academic misconduct board. Full stop. If you let them know at the outset that this is how you handle it, and you follow through, you will see fewer cases over time; you'll get a reputation.

It's miserable that faculty have to enforce this; but they do.

At 2:46 AM , Blogger SS said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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