Monday, September 17, 2012

Explaining Plagiarism to Elementary Students

Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce you to this week’s guest blogger: Emilia of She’s going to explain the importance of teaching young students about plagiarism.  I know this is a topic I have discussed with students as young as 2nd grade, especially when beginning to look at research projects. If you like what she has to say, please take a minute to stop by her website and check out her blog and the services offered.signature_thumb1



Plagiarism has always been a serious problem in education. One may think that children in elementary school have not yet been infected by this debilitating disease that continuously plagues our society in this modern age of technology. Think again.

Perhaps the best way to avoid this is by teaching children as early as elementary aged students the meaning of plagiarism and how to avoid it when doing their homework.

Plagiarism is stealing

Plagiarism is using someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. In simple terms, it is theft in broad daylight. Teachers should explain that plagiarism is stealing; some young students may think that they are just “borrowing” someone’s words or ideas, and therefore it is not wrong. While others may think, everyone is doing it, it must be okay then. No it isn’t. Plagiarism is a serious offence, in some instances, punishable by law. Students who have become serial plagiarists continue to do their wrong-doing simply because they’ve done it so often, it actually feels normal for them to keep doing it and since they haven’t been caught, they somehow feel that they are invincible.

Why We Should Teach Young Students About PlagerismWhy students Plagiarize

When younger students plagiarize, often times it is unintentional and done out of ignorance. They forget to credit their sources, put quotes when needed, or paraphrase correctly. When they are young, these mistakes if not corrected early on may very well stay with them until they reach university, or worse, even into adulthood.

However for older students, it is just plain laziness, especially when they copy paste and directly lift a whole paragraph from the internet, some even forget to change the fonts! As for college or university students who buy essays online or hire someone else to do their school work for them, it’s done because of pure indolence.

End Result

Students should be aware of the serious consequences of plagiarism. However, each schools deal with plagiarism differently. For the younger ones, they can be expelled or given a failing grade with a letter for their parents. For older students though, it is much worse than that. If proven guilty they can lose the chance of earning their degree and graduating, all those years of studying and hard work can be gone in just a flash. For worse case scenarios, legal action can be taken against them.

Keeping your students off the road to plagiarism

1. Keep reminding them that plagiarism is stealing.

2. Explain to your students that even if they “forget” to name a source, even if it’s just an illustration or a drawing, they can still be accused of plagiarism. Keep nagging them to double check if they have absolutely named every single source they’ve used on their report or essays.

3. Use scare tactics: Do a research on people who have been caught plagiarizing other people’s work, especially those who have been slapped with a serious lawsuit, have lost their jobs or suffered extreme humiliation because of their plagiarized work. Search for them online, you’ll find many.

4. After giving your homework to your students, give a short recap on the following: how to use quotation marks when using paragraphs taken from a book, the importance of using citations, and lastly, making a list of every source they’ve used on their homework.

5. Making a check-list guide for your students will also help them avoid the mistake of plagiarism. Ask them questions likes: Did they keep track of where all the information came from in their homework? When they summarized or used ideas in their own words, did they mention where the original source is?

6. Teach them to use anti-plagiarism software found on line. There are many free plagiarism checkers like to check if their work is plagiarism-free.

7. And lastly, tell your students not to be afraid to approach you and to ask questions if they are still not sure of what they are doing.

While plagiarism is a serious topic, teachers should also be very careful not to put off their students from being creative and using different kinds of sources for their homework and as long as they correctly name their sources, they will never be accused of plagiarism.


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