Plagiarism is easy in today's world. Not only do students have access to online writing, which they can easily copy and paste, they can also hire work out to a paid plagiarizer. Many students have no idea of the consequences! In this post, I want to address the problem of plagiarism and offer a simple solution, in the form of a class activity.
I will never forget the first time I knew I had caught a cheater. It was in my first year teaching, and I remember that I really, really wanted to make sure that my kids turned in original work. I was very sensitive to plagiarism, since I had been accused of it once (long story; I will tell it another time). I worked very hard to come up with non-generic essay prompts and research projects (an absolute essential, by the way) so that students would at the very least have a more difficult time plagiarizing! Lo and behold, I knew I hit the mother lode when a student handed in his paper...complete with hyperlinks. Yes, hyperlinks--those words that are underlined and take you directly to another webpage! How dumb did he think I was?!! This was a senior, who certainly should have known better, and I immediately confronted him. He tried to deny it at first, but all I could blurt out was, "If you were going to cheat, you could have at least removed the hyperlinks!" The class was in shock. They couldn't believe it either. We all giggled in embarrassment for both the student and the audacity of the act.