Thursday, March 05, 2009

NVCC-Annandale Plagiarism Workshop

Plagiarism and Computers -- Fun Ways to Take Control of the Issue

A Bedford/St. Martin's Workshop for the Northern Virginia Community College -- Annandale

A plagiarism tip from Barclay Barrios, writing in the BITs Blog:

You can take this tip and do a lot with case studies of people whom, if not brought low by plagiarism, suffered a reputation hit: Doris Kearns Goodwin, for example. But also, there are probably cases too of people wrongly accused of plagiarism. What's the flip side of the issue? How should students prepare and what should they do to show they did not plagiarize? What safe guards can they take and what good writing habits should they learn and follow? The site's a hoot, and it's funny. And it's also a useful teaching tool, worth showing in class if you can do it, or sending students to look at and write about it for a class discussion on doing one's own work.

What is good about this piece? What does it make fun of? How can you use it jump-start a discussion with your students? leads to "Adventures in Cheating," by Seth Stevenson, a piece that samples term paper mills, and finds --no surprise-- that you get what you pay for (and even that ain't much). I wrote a response to this piece, which again, I find useful for teaching, that began, "Essentially, the free papers stink, and they're recycled. That is, free paper mill sites often carry copies of the same papers."

After having students read Stevenson's essay, do what Kelly Ritter of Southern Ct. State U. had her students do: have them find and then analyze and review a term paper mill site. Have them sample and analyze the papers. What are the sites intellectual property and copyright policies? What do the the sites say about plagiarism and being for 'research'? goes to the Bedford/St. Martin's Plagiarism workshop site. This is a faculty resource where you'll find useful handouts, teaching tips, and reviews of plagiarism detection tools.
After reading Robert Harris's book, The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism (2001, from Pyrczak Publishing); an article on the role of honor codes by Robert Boynton in the Washington Post; and thinking about the many plagiarism discussions that have come up on professional listservs I participate on such as WPA, TechRhet, WCenter, it occurred to me that the first place to begin a better discussion with my students on plagiarism is in my own syllabus. talkingplagy.htm lays out what I use to start the conversation.

See --and add your own contributions to-- CompFAQ's collection of resources at

CompFAQ lets composition instructors contribute their own ideas and resources to the composition community. It doesn't take long to add something.

Monday, January 12, 2009

FIU Workshop: Teaching Peer Review

Peer Review
Peer review--students commenting on students writing--is one of the most beneficial things you can do in any course where there's writing. But it's a skill that has to be taught. A program such as CompClass's Writing Tab helps make Peer Review easier to teach because it makes peer review visible; it makes it possible for you as a teacher to see what students are doing.

Here are some other Peer Review Activities you can use:

Advice on Giving and Using Peer Reviews

Peer review exercises from Peter Elbow's and Pat Belanoff's Sharing and Responding, (New York: Random House, 1989):
  • Reading Outloud, the virtue of simply sharing for sharing's sake.
  • Center of Gravity, where you describe the focal point of the paper.
  • Believing/Doubting, where you support, then challenge, a writer's ideas.
  • Say Back, where you recall as much as you can based on what the writer wrote.
  • Metaphor, where you describe a paper in 'other' terms.

Other Popular & Useful Peer Review Activities
  • Nutshelling, where you reveal the essence of a thought.
  • Reading for Flow, helping writers share their logic and the connections their minds' make.
  • Hovering, where you describe what's almost said or one the verge of being expressed.
  • Requirements, making sure the paper meets requirements.
  • Proof Reading, serving as your classmate's eyes.
  • Reviewing Reviews, a group activity where you meet with other writers to talk about peer reviews received.

See also Colorado State University's Writing Center's excellent advice and suggestions for peer review at


Peer Review and Your Review: Balancing Responses