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.

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