I posted some thoughts on plagiarism (J'Accuse!) a couple months ago. The new semester has hit, I've just collected the first big assignment from my students... and I find myself really really really really needing to share a little more.
Decades ago, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced her theory of the five stages of grieving -- you've heard them. They take you neatly through from Denial to Acceptance, with fun-filled stops along the way (Anger Town, Depressionville, etc.).
After serious, big-time research, I've determined that there's a similar process students go through once they've been caught cheating -- but with a few extra steps in there. Some students are able to move through the stages more quickly than others, but I swear you'll see them all if you pay attention. Teachers, back me up.
The Six Stages of Plagiarism:
Teacher: You plagiarized on this paper.
Student: No I didn’t.
Teacher: You cut and copied these paragraphs from an article, pasted them into your own paper, and tried to pass it off as your own work.
Student: Wait a minute -- THAT’S plagiarism???? I had no idea. If I’d know that was plagiarism, I never would’ve done it. Now I know. Sorry. My bad.
Teacher: We talked about plagiarism in class. You knew what you were doing.
Student: You forced me to plagiarize by having so many essays in this class. I didn’t have time to write it right. This is your fault.
Teacher: Blaming your teacher really isn’t a good idea. This is very serious.
Student: Ok, you’re right. I’m really sorry. I feel awful that I did this.
Teacher: We need to talk about the ramifications of what you've done.
Student: I’m really, really sorry. You’re totally right. I have no excuse. (Sniffle.) My parents are going to be so mad at me. I totally deserve to fail your class.
Teacher: You now have an F in the class. You’ll have to retake it next semester.
Student: Wait. Seriously? Hold on. Is there anything I can do to make this better?
Teacher: No. You cheated, so now we have to deal with the repercussions.
Student: Can I rewrite it?
Student: Can I rewrite it for partial credit?
Student: Is there any extra credit I can get later?
Student: (Long pause) So what are you saying?
Teacher: I hope this teaches you never to plagiarize again.
Student: (sullenly) Whatever.
Teachers, check it out next time you bust someone. You know I'm right. P.S. You can go here for Plagiarism Thoughts, Part One.
Next time: “Eight Creative (and Fun) Ways to Use Emotional Blackmail in the Classroom."