a better way to teach about plagiarism
So I mentioned earlier this week that my lesson plan on plagiarism didn’t go too well–an introduction to plagiarism through an NPR piece, followed by an activity that had the kids each read a different newspaper article on plagiarism/copyright violations in different industries (fashion, publishing, news, etc.) and then summarize it for the class. Well, the NPR segment is interesting (to me!) but ten minutes is too long for my kids to listen to something without any sort of activity or visuals; it’s just a lecture, only not given by me! And as I mentioned Monday, the newspaper articles were too long and it just wasn’t an entertaining enough activity.
Well, in the interim, I had peer-reviewed a really quite engaging interactive tutorial on plagiarism for MERLOT. So after a brief opening discussion on plagiarism and how it relates to copyright (which was covered in the first half of class), I had them walk through the tutorial, which involves selecting one of four students majoring in various fields as your avatar, and going through the research process as it relates to plagiarism–with all of its dead ends and pitfalls–with that student. It included questions throughout the tutorial where the student had to choose which statement needed a citation, which one was plagiarism, etc.
The students seemed much more engaged with this than the NPR segment I played Friday, asking me questions about the answers they’d gotten wrong in order to figure out why they were wrong. Yay! I followed the tutorial up by having students partner up to complete the activity from the end of the Library Instruction book lesson that I hadn’t used on Friday. The activity quotes a two-paragraph section of an article, and then has three “student” samples that use this article, and asks whether each–or any–of the student samples show plagiarism, and if so, why. This was also an enlightening activity for my students; they all caught the sample that was blatant word-for-word, uncited plagiarism, but I had to explain that the sample which also quoted the original article word-for-word–but cited–was still plagiarizing. They don’t really understand what paraphrasing is or how to do it or that even re-working an author’s words into your own requires citation. I’m hoping to get one of the English instructors in at some point to help clarify this for them.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with how class went last night and think I’ll be sticking with this format–perhaps with some minor modifications–in the future!