I took in my first batch of English 101, generically known as first year composition, essays on Friday, and right off the bat, plagiarism. I wrote about this before, and that ended up as part of a CCC article, which I kinda didn't like in the way I was portrayed, but I'm over that. this is, of course, a different student and a different class. I think every time I get an obvious example of plagiarism, and this one is, I'm going to write about it.
What happened is a student copied another student's draft from the blog (you can click on the links to the right and see my class blogs and some of the student work there). The student who plagiarized took the essay, tweaked the sentences and turned it in as his own work. I probably wouldn't have discovered it except for the exercise I do whenever I collect an essay. I put students in small groups, and take the essays from each group and pass them to another group. Their job is to decide as a group which of the essays did the best job with the assignment. It just so happened that the student who had his work plagiarized received the plagiarized essay in his group to evaluate. Oops. Busted.
I haven't spoken with the student who plagiarized yet. The assignment was to summarize one of the two chapters we read and write a response to it, building on the text and illustrating the response with examples from personal experience. It's a reasonably "plagiarism" proof assignment in that I switch the books annually (to something I feel like reading usually, or now, something that should help students make a better, more informed decision in the upcoming election). This year, it's UnSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the founders of factcheck.org. Getting back on track, I find myself somewhat underwhelmed this time around. Previously I've felt indignation, anger, something akin to a flash of rage and I don't know all what else. This time it was a "whatever" moment. I'm not sure why, and I don't know that I'm going to think about it all that much.
I'm sure I would have missed this if not for the aggrieved student pointing out the transgression. Maybe that's why I'm not upset. Still, plagiarizing students do the stupidest things. It's almost like a stupid student trick. Maybe David Letterman can have students on who've done stupid things. Maybe I wish the student would have come and asked for some help with the assignment. I'm thinking at the very least I file an incident report, which is what we do for plagiarism. I could drop him from the class and it's too late to get in any others, or I could keep him in class and not trust him for the next couple of months. I guess I'll just wait and see.