Thursday, August 19, 2010

Teacher Magazine / AP > Net-Age Students Have Different View of Plagiarism

Published: August 16, 2010 > EASTON, Pa. (AP) — Last year, students in an Easton Area High School entrepreneurship class were assigned to write business plans. While reviewing them, teachers quickly realized one student had copied entire portions of his from a plan posted on the Internet.

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"There is a blurred vision by many in this digital age because there's just so much information they have access to," Koch said. "It's very difficult for them to filter what is mine and what is yours. It's all out there for you to utilize."

Although local educators said they haven't seen any rise in plagiarism cases lately, many found students from a generation raised on the Internet have a different perspective on what constitutes plagiarism.

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"Some students seem to think that whatever is out there is free to take," said Ed Lotto, director of first-year writing at Lehigh University. "They seem to think it's common knowledge and they can cite common knowledge without citation."

Plagiarism is a cultural, nationwide phenomenon. The problem is not limited to the Lehigh Valley.

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Lotto said the problem may manifest, in part, from the way the Internet has changed young people's perspective about digital media.

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"It's the culture they grew up in," Lotto said. "And that would affect their perception of ownership of things in the world."

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Part of the problem, he said, is students learn at a young age to use the Internet as a research tool, but are not necessarily instructed early on what requires a citation and how to cite it.

"I think it's a problem in the curriculum for younger grades," Ziegler said. "There has to be a way to better transition those kids from middle school reports to high school reports."

Other local educators don't necessarily see a connection between students raised in the digital age and plagiarism.

Hannah Stewart-Gambino, dean of Lafayette College, said students are instructed as thoroughly as ever about what constitutes plagiarism and most know the difference between what is right and wrong.

"Even as humans were scratching rudimentary writing into tree bark, the inclination to claim work that is not one's own has been human nature," Stewart-Gambino said. "I'm not convinced technology or the Internet has altered human nature or that temptation substantially, frankly."

Editorial Comment > Are You Serious ???

But she does believe students have difficulty differentiating between legitimate sources on the Internet and nonacademic sources.

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Just as music companies and film studios have had to change their online sales models in response to illegal downloading, Lotto said some educators have suggested schools will have to change their views of what constitutes plagiarism due to the rise of the Internet.

"I've heard it argued a change in perspective of plagiarism is coming, that we shouldn't be too hard-nosed about it," he said. "I'm an older guy, so I don't really buy it so much, but I do hear it sometimes from younger teachers and graduate students."

Lotto added, "It's going to change. I don't know how or in what way, but you can see it."

Information from: The Express-Times [http://www.lehighvalleylive.com]

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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[http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2010/08/16/netstudentsplagiarism_ap.html]

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