I had several students plagiarize on papers and one student plagiarized not only his paper but two extra credit assignments.
My husband argued with me over the definition of plagiarism (He does not think missing citations are serious.) and was upset enough to not want to continue the discussion.
This article, which came to me via NCTE, appears to agree.
In his essay â€œBeating the House: How Inadequate Penalties for Cheating
Make Plagiarism an Excellent Gamble,â€ Matthew Woessner calculates that plagiarism is a strategy likely to pay off: â€œwhen expected value functions indicate that engaging in plagiarism will (in all probability) raise a studentâ€™s grade and save her time, assuming the risk of misconduct must be described as rationalâ€ (314). Studentsâ€™ and instructorsâ€™â€”and later, employersâ€™â€”fixation upon grades inhibits understanding and ameliorating the systemic, contextual nature of the problem. But once one acknowledges, as Woessner does, that a context of evaluation invites academic dishonesty, then it cannot follow that the solution is aggressive punishment of that dishonesty. Yet this is exactly what Woessner, and many others, recommend: â€œall but the most aggressive plagiarism sanctions inadvertently reward students who elect to engage in this type of misconductâ€ (313).
The author argues that paying attention to grades limits integrity. I do not think this is true. Grades are always important. In my seventh grade social studies class, when the teacher was out, all but one student cheated on the exam. I reported them and I was also penalized. Were those students, most of whom were from the inner city, really worried about their grades? Or did they think that an easy A would be fun?
The article also says:
This belief helps explain the actions of both students and teachers around the issue of academic dishonesty. If this student were to study successfully, he might get an A on the exam; but if he were to cheat successfully, he would have a better chance of getting an A because cheating mitigates the randomness of the outcomeâ€”it eliminates the personal factor and puts the student more firmly in control.
Does that make any sense? Cheating is less random. I suppose it somewhat is true for a test, but how is cheating on a paper, which is the topic of the discussion, less random that actually doing the paper?
I totally disagree with this article, but it is an interesting one to look at because it is a different perspective.