Is It the Teacher’s Fault?

For most students, plagiarizing consists of direct copying and pasting from primary sources into their own documents. There is no covering up, it is very blatant and obvious. "When assignments are highly generic and not classroom-specific…” This exerpt from the Council of Writing Program Administrators basically sums up my view on plagiarism and copyright infringement in the classroom. Throughout my schooling, I have found that if I directly copy and paste my teacher’s assignment prompt into a search engine, I will find pages upon pages of answers and examples for that assignment given by other teachers and students. Students are being labeled as lazy, but are teachers the lazy ones?

Because of this rather lazy approach by teachers, students are being injured. For example, I know my writing skills are not where they should be partly because of the school system and the growing lack of genuine concern from them. In this situation, the teacher is gaining more free time and less time grading, less time formulating challenging assignments from students because they can just get them off the internet, and also gaining a paycheck for work they are hardly doing.

The children of today are just as smart as children back when there wasn’t the internet or google to aid in the writing process. “when there is no instruction on plagiarism and appropriate source attribution, and when students are not led through the iterative processes of writing and revising..” We are told what plagiarism is when we are in elementary school. Besides being told the basic definition, nothing else is done to further explain plagiarism to young student and how to avoid it. This creates a ripple affect. Students then carry on bad habits to middle school then high school and then college and this could prove detrimental to their overall success. There will always be the students that could care less about school and find ways to take the easy way out (this could be through plagiarism and copyright infringement). But to categorize students as those who “don't "value the opportunity of learning" (Howard) like Howard does is completely wrong.

I believe when addressing plagiarism, teachers need to look inward and their own teaching practices to see if they could be serving their students better. Only then can they address the problem of plagiarism with their students and they should be addressed and reprimanded accordingly. I do agree that plagiarism is a serious thing and students who plagiarize consistently should be disciplined but then given a meeting with their teacher to discuss the ins and outs of plagiarism. I believe that the more knowledge the students have, the less mistakes they will make by plagiarizing.

7 thoughts on “Is It the Teacher’s Fault?”

  1. OMGGGGGGG! Someone finally said my thoughts. It makes me really mad when professors re-use prompts every year. Each year more research is being done to topics and professors should take that into consideration and switch it up a little. For instance, for our literature review, what if our professor copied someone else assignment how will students benefit from that? I am sure that its multiple ways to write literature reviews and rules changes as to how to structure one so how can the students benefit from it if they are using old resources. I think if students are graded on plagiarism then professor should to. I think this is a issue we as students should bring up. I know every time I get a math handout the answers to the worksheet is online. I use to think that teachers did not know but as I got older I discovered that they are getting the handouts from online. They did not take the time to create another worksheet with new material. Now that is lazy. Professors need to take pride in assignments if they expect students to. The whole plagiarism and copyright issue will ALWAYS exist because the rules is not black and white. I think that every professor should do what one of professor did and make us complete a plagiarism assignment. The assignment was very detailed and had multiple parts and covered different plagiarism examples. Once a person completes that assignment and get certified then its there responsibility and problem if you a professor use a generator and find out they used a exact section of writing without citation.

  2. I thought it was very interesting how you discussed the factors that may cause a student to plagiarize (regarding your quote from the Council of Writing). I’ve always seen plagiarism as a cop out, with laziness being the only possible motive behind it; however, your post really made me consider the fact that plagiarism may be a side effect of flaws in a class’ curriculum. Adding on to your points, I think that many students are learning how to pass classes instead of learning information. In other words, students may be more concerned with writing a paper or doing a project in a way that he or she thinks the teacher would be most approving of, rather than writing the essay the student wants to write; students are tailoring their essays with grades in mind rather than academic or emotional excursion. There is no doubt that an essay’s prompt, preliminary work, and the way it is handled by a teacher are all factors that may contribute to a student’s decision to plagiarize. Open-ended essay prompts met with a failure to clarify further may cause the student to be confused and resort to plagiarism in order to complete an assignment. I really liked your post.

  3. I think that your post hit a lot of things that were absolutely spot on and your post was overall interesting and enjoyable.

    It is very true. For a fact, in most of my classes, if I really want to know the answer to a question I can paste an entire question into Google and the exact same question will pop up with an answer. Grant it, just as the teacher took the exact same question and gave it to his/her students to answer, we could take the answer and record it as our own, except then it becomes plagiarism. Teachers aren’t teaching anymore. Even know plagiarism is a blurry line that no one can rarely decipher so we are told to just cite everything.

    It is not that students d not value education, it is that information has become so accessible and easy to come by and plagiarism is not properly defined or taught. I love your post because I think it addresses a huge issue that we are facing in high schools and even in colleges. Teachers and the education systems have to be more accurate with the way they define plagiarism and being diligent in teaching students to write. Even with systems like “turnitin.com” I think it is important that teachers read the paper and then determine whether or not their students were capable of writing what they wrote. Like you said I think is important that teachers really teach.

  4. I had not considered this before reading your post and thought it was very interesting. I think education has changed now to focus less on learning the material, and more so on just pleasing the teacher. That being said, with a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, such as google, students turn for a quick and easy answer online that would please the teacher. However, teachers can also search for an easy assignment to give to the students that meets the criteria they are supposed to teach. Its not just the teachers that are lazy, technology causes both students and teachers to be lazy.

  5. In my Chemistry class, I’ve found that many of my homework and quiz questions have already been answered by someone on Yahoo Answers. Is it plaigirizing when I use this to verify the right answer? There’s only one answer to the problem.

    Also, you are right. There are always going to be the apathetic kids who are just going to plagiarise work to get by. Personally, I feel that the root of this is behaviors that need to be adressed earlier on in life rather than later.

    In my High School Sophmore level English class while explaing what it is, my teacher gave us the best reason to not plagiarise.

    He told a story (which may have been apocryphal) of students in college being kicked out of courses and derailing their entire academic career because they plaigirized just once.

  6. I actually enjoyed your post because it was about something I never really considered when I thought about plagiarism. In high school there would be times where our teachers didn’t put as much emphasis on plagiarism and I heard several students get away with it. Sometimes there would be times when they would get caught even when they didn’t address it until after everyone submitted their papers. So I definitely agree with you. Yeah students are at fault when they commit the wrong doing but it would actually help if the teachers would further explain why. It’s one thing to simply say plagiarism is bad and it’s another thing to actually tell the student why they’re being punished or what they can do to prevent it from happening again.

  7. It is considerable that teachers also play a role in detrimenting students’ writing skills by lack of work and repetitive project prompts. However there is one particular question that comes to my mind: is it implied that all teachers use the same writing prompts? Your argument is valid, however I would like to argue that the writing skills that students have accumulated today are not due part to the plagiarism policing of teachers, but through unique projects that bring forth their interests as well as their strive to write a piece well-versed.

    In my first year in college I happened to make a distinction between my first semester english class and my second semester english class. In contrast, High school english classes had a standard to go by each year: read a few main books, take assessments, write essays concerning the meanings and interpretations of book material, then discuss. It may seem that in all the activities we did together as a group were for the benefit of the individual. It opened up to us that not all ideas of a topic can come from the same person, and conjuring our own meanings from the book would make us unique from others, which may benefit with a slightly higher grade on our work than usual. These secondary school tools helped people as students to ease their transition into a collegiate environment where ideas can be as uncensored and spontaneous as they can be, and institutions challenge us to “apply theoretical perspectives on language and communication to the solution of real-world problems.”

    One semester my english professor decides to channel our thoughts in how rhetoric of physical places play roles in culture and society. Another semester another professor tells me that technology has become so important and we as writers have to decide whether human relationship with technological advancement is good or bad. Therefore I think that not all english teachers recycle each other’s work. They merely share their interpretations of problems with us, and we are challenged to find that solution.

    English dept mission statement:
    http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwesl/under_programs.html

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