Friday, June 27, 2008

I shot the sheriff (updated with a new link)

I must, must grade this set of research essays before I leave on Monday, so I'm tricking myself into finishing them. Grade one essay and then you can write one blog entry. Grade one more essay and then you can change the laundry. Grade one more essay and then you can pack for a few minutes. Grade one more essay and then you can work on your lesson for church. See, I say "trick" here because the trick is on me: most of these rewards aren't really all that rewarding, but one does what one can to get through the arduous grading debacle...ahem...process.

Of course, all of my planning and bribing and tricking gets summarily derailed when the first essay I read turns out to be plagiarized! One of my heretofore best students, just today entrusted with returning the confidential evaluations to the proper authorities, plagiarized in his conclusion of all places. Why there, for crying out loud? You're not even making any more substantive points, so why cheat at the very end? And if you're going to cheat, why would you choose to use a list comprised of sentences separated by semi-colons? I KNOW you don't know how to use semi-colons because we didn't cover them explicitly in class and you've never used them before. Too easy to catch, my dear young friend. And now, because of laziness or panic or just plain ill will, you will be flunking this class.

Sigh. Plagiarism is at least as demoralizing for me as it is for them. I once had a professor friend in grad school commiserate with me while I was photocopying the evidence for an extensively plagiarized paper. He said when you catch plagiarism, you feel like you're in a pit of misery and then you look around and see the student in question and think "And YOU! You're the one who put me down here!!" A perfect combination of self-pity and righteous indignation. I think about how true that sentiment is every time yet another sorry students stoops to this behavior.


And for another take on the plagiarism debacle from the blogosphere, click here


Caroline said...

I can totally relate to this post. Pit of misery? Sounds like Peter.

Lilita said...

Actually, it was Jonathan G., and he was all kinds of animated about it. I think it was the one and only conversation we ever had!

Jess and Heather said...

That's so sad your student decided to take the easy way out and ruined his class!