Friday, November 12, 2010

Greenville Tech: Plagiarism and Assignment Design

Addressing Plagiarism: Premise 1 -- Design Assignments That Allow Work to be Seen and Collected in Increments

The argument put forth in this workshop is that visibility makes plagiarism hard to do. And more importantly, the things you can do to make writing visible and collectable in drafts and increments--including keeping a research portfolio--are crucial and necessary writing skills. Consider just these two quotes on their effectiveness:
The only protection as a historian is to institute a process of research and writing that minimizes the possibility of error. And that I have tried to do, aided by modern technology, which enables me, having long since moved beyond longhand, to use a computer for both organizing and taking notes. I now rely on a scanner, which reproduces the passages I want to cite, and then I keep my own comments on those books in a separate file so that I will never confuse the two again. But the real miracle occurred when my college-age son taught me how to use the mysterious footnote key on the computer, which makes it possible to insert the citations directly into the text while the sources are still in front of me, instead of shuffling through hundreds of folders four or five years down the line, trying desperately to remember from where I derived a particular statistic or quote. Still, there is no guarantee against error. Should one occur, all I can do, as I did 14 years ago, is to correct it as soon as I possibly can, for my own sake and the sake of history. In the end, I am still the same fallible person I was before I made the transition to the computer, and the process of building a lengthy work of history remains a complicated but honorable task. 
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Time Magazine, January 27, 2002.

Finally, offering the students an off-line alternative makes their consent absolutely clear. For instance, as an alternative, the student could be required to turn in a photocopy of the first page of all reference sources used, an annotated bibliography, and a one page paper reflecting on their research methodology. Such an option would be unlikely to be chosen by any students, but if they did choose it, the chances of plagiarism would also be vanishingly thin
Paul Wedlake Director of Sales
iParadigms, LLC., developers of
Last paragraph from's "standard statement regarding the Copyright Issue."

Addressing Plagiarism: Premise 2 -- Design Assignments that are Interesting to Read and Where the Papers that Result Cannot be Reused the Next Time You Use the Assignment Again.

What does this mean? In essence it's structuring an assignment so that it inherently offers a fresh perspective, one that gets away from being hackneyed. Doing this means you'll always see something different as an instructor, so you're not reading the same old same old same old same old same old same old thing year after year after year after year after year.

Here are some sources for creative assignment ideas to help you think through this:

Professor Plum's 492 Research Paper Assignment

What is Plagiarism?

One of those terms whose definition seems, ironically enough, to be plagiarized from time to time. Or is it plagiarized? Why isn't it?

Cheating is Easy, but let us look and see how it can be made both harder to do, and not worth doing, all in the context of helping students use the Internet and WWW better for the writing and learning they need to do.

Try Googling your assignment. Go to Google or another search engine, and put in keywords from your writing assignment. See what comes up. Do you need to revise the assignment to make it less plagiarable?

Turn Papermills to Your Advantage
Since these sites exist, let students know that you know about them. Use them in your teaching. For example, you can go to
( and find student papers and use them in class for all sorts of reasons: to teach peer review, for editing practice, as imperfect models.

How Student Papers Sometimes Get Written 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. 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 papermill sites often carry copies of the same papers." Rest of the note is here:

Teach Students How to Make a Bibliography
The Bedford Bibliographer at

Or, show students what research is really about:

Remember That Writing is Social

Teaching Source Evaluation and Research Skills

Before the Internet and World Wide Web information explosion, most teachers did not spend time teaching students to evaluate sources. Research projects sent students to the library, where it was assumed that sources would be valid. So an essential skill was never taught. But now it needs to be taught.

Fortunately, there are several good WWW sites to help teach those skills. All these sites apply criteria drawn from the types of questions librarians ask when deciding whether a book or other print source will be a good resource to have in the library.

The Bedford Research Room: by Mike Palmquist offers tips and advice on evaluating sources, an avoiding plagiarism tutorial and more.
Evaluating Web Resources : by Janet Alexander and Marcia Tate. This site organizes questions to ask about sites by site type -- informational, advertising, and so on.

Evaluating a Site: interactive forms students can complete and then print out and bring in as part of their homework.

Yahooligans' Teaching Internet Literacy: offers both a tutorial for teachers and activities for students.

Teaching Research, Teaching Writing, Teaching Academic Honesty
Naturally, these are all intertwined, especially now, with the Internet and WWW providing a place where teaching, writing, and research all actually converge. But how to talk about it and work it all into the classroom? My own inclination is to work make the issue discussable. Here's how I do that:

Or, try what Mike Edwards at UMass tried:

Let's Plagiarize

And Plagiarize We Did

Reliable Sources
These are examples of reliable WWW sites -- good starting places for students and instructors to use. The main difference between starting here and finding something on Google? -- human editors made careful choices.

  • Research and Documentation Online at offers a comprehensive collection of research resources, including an overview of research starting places organized by subject matter and sorted by source type: book, WWW sites, and databases.

  • The Internet Public Library at provides an excellent, librarian and library science student collection of resources chosen with the same care and attention librarians bring to the sources they put on their shelves.

  • Links Library at collects "several databases of annotated links for a variety of disciplines. These links lead to resources that Bedford/St. Martin's authors and editors and readers have found to be useful in their own teaching and research. "

Thursday, August 19, 2010

USF Resources

From Style Workshops -- Book's mentioned

The Craft of Revision by Donald Murray

Revising Prose by Richard Lanham

Style: An Anti-Textbook by Richard Lanham

A Rhetoric of Pleasure by T.R. Johnson

Books that Came Up in Circle Talk

The Origins of Composition Studies in the American College, 1875–1925 by John Brereton

Writing With Power by Peter Elbow

Transition to College Writing by Keith Hjortshoj

The Bedford Researcher 3e by Mike Palmquist

FieldWorking 3e  by Bonnie Stone Sunstein and Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater

Circle Talk Websites
The Legend of the Intern Who Ate for Free, inspired by the intrepid group from another meeting that finished off the buffet lunch.
Plagiarism and Computers: Fun Ways to Take Control of the Issue gives you annotated links addressing plagiarism, a topic that came up for a bit in the circle talk. This includes the syllabus statement on plagiarism I described at page called "Talking About Plagiarism."
Teaching Central from Bedford/St. Martin's, the place to go to get more  professional resource books and to request exam copies of textbooks.

Peer Review Resources
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 and 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

Monday, March 01, 2010

E-Portfolio Resources and Ideas for DCCD College Success

From Bedford/St. Martin's . . .
Teaching Central. This is from our catalog page. From here you can request for free an exam copy of any professional resource book or use any professional resource web site we provide. For example, we offer the following titles which touch on directly, or have sections on, using portfolios and/or e-portfolios:

In addition to the above titles, there are books on teaching writing to students with disabilities, ESL, assessing writing and more.  Please add what you need to your personal professional resource library (pprl).  If you don't have a pprl, start one today.  

Using What You Have

As you search for an e-portfolio platform, ala Task Stream or another vendor, remember that you do not have to wait until you get a vendor or service lined up to start using e-portfolios. You can go a long way with what you have and with free Web technologies such as Google Docs and BloggerPBWorks, Ning, and other sites and services. These are not eportfolio tools per se, but they do allow learners to place selected work and reflections on that work in a place from which they can then share it (connect it) with others. For example, Penn State uses blogs to have students create and share e-portfolios: 
At this community college in Hawai'i, they use Google sites: can get an overview of the steps Hawaii Tokai International College used to implement the Google Sites eportfolio here:
Resources from Around the Web

The Online Learning Record by Peg Syverson. Peg's work seeks richer insights into student learning than can be gotten from standardized tests and most traditional uses of portfolios. See for example Peg's description of the five -- and a sixth she adds -- dimensions of learning:

Principles and Practices in Electronic Portfolios: A CCCC Position Statement
Published in 2007 by CCCC Taskforce on Best Practices in Electronic Portfolios, this statement outlines suggestions for best practices in e-portfolios in composition courses, but much can be gleaned for using e-portfolios in any course. The site/statement offers extensive links to institutions that offer good e-portfolio models as well as bibliography (with links as well).

LaGuardia Community College e-Portfolio Bibliography:
LAGCC's Center for Teaching and Learning Delcious Bookmarks:

ePortfolio Resources -- AAEEBL
The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidenced-Based Learning, founded by Trent Batson, an e-portfolio pioneer, offers links to international e-portfolio resources. Trent also works with Electronic Portfolio Action and Communication (EPAC), which keeps an evolving list of e-portfolio tools:

EduTools E-Portfolio Comparison Site
A little out of date, but still useful for a starting snapshot of alternatives.