Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Snowflake Laziness Takes New Heights

Last week I assigned the Indiana U plagiarism link/test to my students. It's not worth any points on its own, but they must complete it before I can take their final paper -- a 200 point paper worth two letter grades in the course.

This conversation happened Monday:

Me: Does anyone have a Completion Certificate for me?

Girl raises her hand.

Me: Yes?

Girl: You know, I went to your page and I read the about the assignment, but when I tried to click on the link it didn't work. Did you just want me to copy and paste that up at the top?

Me: ....Yes.

This girl, who is on the lower end of the grading anyway, couldn't muster up even the smallest effort to copy and paste the link into the address box of her browser to have access to a possible 200 point, 2 letter grade assignment. WTF. So for something this important I need to make a hyperlink for you, not trust you enough to highlight and right click on the damn thing? Fucking really?

Ugh. Good thing they have a few more class periods before it's officially due.


  1. Here's where I think it all goes wrong. SOMEONE is letting the flakes get away with this shit. That one Professor P who was noted last week springs to mind, sending his students weekly emails of reminders, YouTube videos, etc.

  2. Reg, I share your distaste for Prof P's "helpfulness" but if I may wax Satanic for a moment, I reflect on the many similarly flaky requests I get from students.

    Unfortunately, my decision making tree seems to workout to only one branch -

    "As an adjunct could my action (regardless of how justified it may be) come back to bite me in the buttocks and jeopardize future assignments?"


    Ultimately, though, a couple of whiny "Professor was mean to me" flakes are all it can take for my assignment pipeline to mysteriously dry up!

  3. Well, May, thanks for the information on that test and support materials. I grabbed the link for next semester, for all my classes, and I plan to use it just as you do.

  4. They are lazy and want everything handed to them. They are just so used to links being automatic that they are baffled at the actual thought of copying and pasting the address into a browser. I've had this happen to me so many times myself that I just finally gave up and inserted the link. It's sad, I know, but sometimes the fight isn't worth it when it comes to the completely clueless.

  5. Like May, I really like this tutorial and test ( ), which a colleague shared with me years ago, and I've been using since. It's well-designed, and challenging enough that they actually have to pay attention to get the certificate. Completing it doesn't solve the plagiarism problem entirely, but I suspect it helps (I think there have been studies showing that *any* coverage of plagiarism helps reduce it at least a bit), and the certificate, which includes words to the effect of "I now understand what plagiarism is; there will be no excuse if I do it") makes a very nice addition to the paperwork for an honor case if worst comes to worst.

  6. And, though I'm with Reg on Prof P's approach (which is actually, give or take the youtube videos, standard practice in online classes, but that's a somewhat different situation), I also have considerable sympathy for A&S's reasoning. I'm on multi-year contracts, but I still find myself thinking more than I should, especially at this time of year, about how my actions will affect student evaluations, especially as contract renewal time looms. We really need a more robust, reliable system for evaluating teaching. My department is working on something along those lines, but it's been a bumpy process, and the department's willingness to stand up for its own judgments against those of an apparently eval-obssessed dean hasn't yet been tested, which leaves me nervous, and careful even about borrowing Greta's "seriously?" when the questions get ridiculous.

  7. CC, I've been clicking and clicking on the link you posted above, and it's not doing anything...

  8. Holy smokes! That link for the "test" will be one more requirement I'll add to the first night's class (this summer, too). I do like the "must do before final paper turn-in"...

    Today, I read a paper that has all sorts of copying; the original sources were easy to find, as always. Do they think we're stupid? [Yes.]

  9. Am I the only person who thinks that citing this as an example of plagiarism is going overboard?

    In the words of the website,

    "This example has been plagiarized. Although the student has paraphrased the original material and included a citation for the original author, no reference is provided in the reference list."

    Seriously? Forgetting to include a bibliographic entry to correspond to an in-text citation is now plagiarism? Even though the student clearly doesn't intend to deceive and hasn't succeeded in doing so?

  10. @Schmitty: I wouldn't probably ding a student for not listing a reference (I'd point it out as something to be amended and avoided in the future without reporting it as plagiarism), but it is technically plagiarism. As I tell my students, in-text citations and references go hand-in-hand -- you don't have one without the other.

  11. What's really fun is when YOU start using THEIR excuses for not doing things (like running paperwork over to admin, etc.).

    "Okay, so you like handed me these papers, but, like, I know you said to take it to Dean Longmember, but, like, it wasn't clear..."

  12. Like string-o-numbers-and-letters, I wouldn't penalize harshly for one slip-up of this kind, either, and I'm not sure I'd technically call it plagiarism. But it's still not-entirely-correct citation, and I'd rather have students a little too nervous, rather than not nervous enough, about this subject (unfortunately, what they get the most nervous about is exact citation format, about which I'm less concerned; I care a lot more about the proper use of quotation marks and inclusion of signal phrases, and, yes, the ability to move easily between an in-text citation and its associated works cited/references entry, than I do about exactly what items come in what order in the bibliography entry).

    I haven't seen that particular example before (I think the quiz draws on a bank of items, so it's slightly different each time you take it. Either that, or it's been updated since I last took it myself).

  13. @Hologram: I've been guilty of that, especially when dealing with university procedures that don't usually affect contingent faculty members.

  14. @EMH What has always been what? Forgetting to include a bibliographic entry to correspond to an in-text citation always has been plagiarism?

    What can I say? I am a confusedflake because I was always told that the essence of plagiarism was deceiving the reader into thinking that the author's ideas are his or her own when, in fact, they belong to someone else. It is a form of cheating.

    How can a student be accused of trying to cheat when he or she has, as it were, placed a little "flag" saying, "THIS IDEA IS NOT MY OWN"????

    And no, I have never been guilty of failing to provide a bibliographic reference to correspond to an in-text entry. I'm just honestly puzzled, that's all.

  15. Fair enough. It's probably more of an issue of format than anything else.

    Back in the day, I wrote papers and just made sure that I dotted my I's and crossed my t's.
    I guess I still am inclined to be a bit anal.

    Luckily, I don't have to assign any papers. Just homework problems.

  16. In a paper-length piece of writing I would consider leaving a source out of the bibliography to be sloppy, but not deceptive. In a book-length work, it might well be an attempt to understate the influence of a scholar/school/etc., but for students I'd consider it a format error.

  17. @Schmitty--as Dresner, above, points out, there is plagiarism that is deceptive and there is plagiarism that is sloppy and hybrids of all manner between 'em; it's the sloppy-deceptive form that I most relish, as it is so easy to tract and so patently STOOOOPID. I'm dealing with a case of that right now (with a high school freshman), and it is KILLING me. Good thing my admin had always--so far--been behind us on these issues.


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