Saturday, July 28, 2012

Joan Forry and Phil Jenkins on responding to plagiarism as a moral issue

Joan: We are not talking about the usual topic: how to detect and prevent plagiarism.

Phil: anecdote about having to correct a teacher who had given a penalty for plagiarism that was perceived as a too draconian. The teacher defended the penalty as a moral punishment, rather than a simply an assessment of student performance.

Specifically, the case was a plagiarized paper and the penalty was failing the paper AND losing a letter grade on the final grade of the course. The justification was that not turning in a paper gets you a zero, and the punishment for plagiarism should be worse than that.

So the question is: what is the appropriate response to cases of plagiarism and why? The why is the important part of the question.

Daryl Close in Teaching Philosophy on the purposes and principles of grading: Purpose: provide readers of the transcript with an expert opinion on the knowledge and skills of the student. So even grading on attendance is unfair because it doesn’t measure knowledge or skills. [Me: Showing up on time is a skill that employers want to see.]

Two views of plagiarism:

Course mastery view
·         Plagiarism is a failure of the student to demonstrate mastery of the material.
·         The immorality of the act of plagiarism is irrelevant to the act of grading. Evaluating moral is unfair.

Moral violation view:
·         Plagiarism is a moral wrong because it is an act of deception
·         It may be regarded as an affront to the discipline, the learning community and the institution.
·         Students have an obligation to deter immoral behavior.
·         Penalty for plagiarism is to deter and punish wrongdoing.

Exercise: we are broken up into two groups and grade a sample paper based on one of the two views.

The prompt is a very mild case of plagiarism. Everyone else thinks that this is a mild violation, I think it is not even a mild violation.

Moral violation group: First question: it deliberate or innocent. They think it seems innocent, so it a redo.

Content mastery group: this person didn’t really fulfill the assignment. My group thinks it is a D or an F. I think it is a C.

The speakers wanted this to be a case that would get an ok grade from the course mastery group and be failed by the moral violation group. I think it gets a C from either perspective.

Hermberg: Most of us are at institutions whose mission is to produce conscientious, good citizens.  Our mission statement says our graduates are people of integrity.

Julie: Does this represent course mastery or does it represent academic system mastery.

Phil is now trying to redo the example so the violation is more severe.

Peter Bradley: You can’t break apart the plagiarism part of the paper and the overall quality of the paper.

No comments: