Plagiarism…how to deal with it and how I dealt with it

Wow, so my first plagiarized paper. And it wasn’t even subtle. I was at a loss so I went to good old Google to help. I was also angry; how dare she think I am that stupid! Immature, I know.

The assignment wasn’t that hard. Go to a museum and write me two pages double-spaced about a piece of artwork you saw. I will spare you the details and protect my anonymity at the same time.

The real goal of the paper was to make them experience a museum (some had never gone before) and make them really look at one piece of art and experience it first hand. Yes, I forced culture on them.

First, I contacted my trusty mentor who I will mention a lot and I will nickname “Fran” due to her looking so much like a movie actress. Her advice was:

1. Do not give any credit for the paper

2. Discuss with the student the serious nature of plagiarism

3. Do not overreact but absolutely report this to the department

4. Introduce the students to TurnItIn software and let them know it is available to them

I reported this to the head of my department who told me that consequences are at the discretion of the faculty member. I even looked up her record and it made me suspicious but I didn’t want to overreact and report this to the Dean right away.

So now to what I am going to do:

1. Start the class out with a discussion on plagiarism. Let them know the consequences of it. Let them know exactly what qualifies as plagiarism.

2. Since student evaluations are the same week, I will speak to the student personally and address the issue.

3. A grade of 0 was given for the assignment with no chance to fix or change it.

4. Let the student know that this will not be tolerated, tell her what is done in other schools, and finally, let her know that if anyone asks me about this in the future, I will tell them exactly what happened.

Afterwards, I felt she faked her reaction a bit. She told me she didn’t know she was doing something wrong. I am not buying it but I am giving her the benefit of the doubt.

I’m still kind of mad though. If anyone else out there had similar stories/situations, please share them. I am curious to see how it was handled.

I am just like you, the student…or am I?

This is my first year teaching art history. It’s a little strange. I look at my students and I don’t feel much different than them inside. I was them, but 13 years ago. I see the punk rock girl in my class and I see myself. I see the stoner in my class and I remember how I was when I was in my first year of college. I see myself so strongly in my students and I want them all to enjoy this experience and succeed at their degree. Its sad to think not all will.

I want to tell them these are the best years of your life; soak it up! Soon comes the real world and jobs you hate and bills you struggle to pay. This is a time to learn and grow and enjoy.

I don’t feel nor do I look much older than my students. It’s frightening to think that 10 or more years separate me from them. 10 years seems like so much and yet I listen to their music and them mine, we wear the same clothing (when I am not at work), I love skull clothing and black nail polish like my little punk rock girl, and I go out to clubs all night though not like I used to.

I love my classroom to be a place where anything can be discussed. No subject is off limits although some can be a bit off track. I think an environment where a student can ask questions (no matter how raunchy or strange as long as it is on topic) is a positive one. Art is weird and raunchy. It confronts and questions.

I also love my students and not in a creepy way. I want them all to come out of my class with a greater understanding of art and dare I even hope an appreciation for it. I want them to be changed a bit. In a few years, I want them to remember my class as sort of fun. I want in 10 or 15 years when they see a piece of art we may or may not have spoke about to remember things like chiaroscuro and tenebrism and tabernacles on Italian churches.

So, I guess the whole point of this is: I could be you (the professor) or you (the student) or you (the person). I am not that different from any of you and I think we have a lot more in common than you think. I am a punk rock girl, I am a dork, I love books and metal shows, I have an iPod and iPad and a Mac, I Facebook (thought I won’t share my acct with you).

The only thing that makes me really different is I do what I love (teach art) and I went to college for 13 years and counting. Yes, counting…