I had a long whiny post yesterday which I deleted. I’m sorta glad. I’m less whiny this morning. I think it’s because I actually did something in the way of scholarship this morning! Will wonders never cease? The deadline for the panel for which I’d like to submit an abstract is this Saturday. I don’t think my idea is as good as the one I had last year, but maybe I can come up with something. I missed the deadline for the panel which I sorta had something ready for based on a talk I gave on campus in October, but honestly, I’m not interested in writing that paper really. I’d rather write the paper for this new idea. Also, I do really want to turn what I did last year and what I hope to do this year into something larger. Of course that means actually working on them beyond the conference paper aspect of the issue, but just like this time last year, I’m moving in the right direction. The challenge this time will be not to stop once I get to the conference paper. Of course this is all presuming that my abstract gets accepted.
Yesterday we went for a run outside in this nasty ass weather here. It was negative something with the windchill. But I found my gortex running shoes, which it turns out, without my orthotics, are way too big**. I had to cut the run short 25 minutes (we still ran for 45) because I could feel the blisters. I was part right. I *had* blisters. The split during the run. My socks were filled with blood. My heals throb with every heartbeat. I have a ginormous one in the arch of my right foot. The one on the arch of the left half split during the run and then another blister formed on top. That freaking hurts! I was like a little old lady last night and soaked my feet for almost an hour in epsom salts, which helped a bit but damn they hurt going into that water! I don’t know if I can protect my feet enough in their utter rawness to be able to go back out today. I really need to, but we’ll see. It’s really really cold out there, too. -9 with the windchill. Yowza!
Anyway, reading something last night not related to the coming semester and working on something this morning that interests me outside of my teaching has improved my mood especially since STILL students are complaining (I spoke too soon on Monday) about their grades. The latest–"I didn’t plagiarize on purpose. I did everything right. I don’t know why Dr. Nola gave me a bad grade. I might lose my scholarship now because of her. It’s not my fault. I didn’t mean to if I did and I did everything right!" Uh, no, clearly you didn’t. Turning in pages of a source you used also doesn’t take the place of an actual works cited page. Mentioning the author of the quote but not putting quotes around the direct quote and not giving the page number and writing it as if you are giving your interpretation or paraphrase of what the author says while actually using a direct quote is also plagiarism, as I have already explained to you. And just because you changed "a" to "the" and moved his word from the end of the sentence to the beginning of the sentence without quoting, well, that’s shady, too, missy. And don’t pretend you "didn’t know" because I showed you, on your other paper, exactly what you did, why it was wrong, and how to freaking fix it!
Since I’m on the subject of plagiarism and fraudulent writing, which I had not intended this post to be about, but since I’m on it anyway, how often do you guys deal with that? I think I’d feel less anxious if I felt that the administration had my back, but quite frankly, I don’t think they do, even the higher ups. I saw a student before the end of the semester who had been written up twice, which is supposed to be dismissal from the institution, or I believe ze had, still walking around taking classes. I just feel like as long as students are still willing to pay for their tuition, they get to keep cheating and plagiarizing. I know Super Awesome Colleague busts about as many students for plagiarizing as I do. But I feel like we are the only ones. I know that my colleagues in the sciences have more problems with cheating than with actual plagiarism, but I’m trying to figure out if the amount of cheating and plagiarism that I deal with, if that’s unusual or usual for a SLAC. I’ve had at least 9 in the last year. But I never hear of any of my colleagues, aside from Super Awesome Colleague complain about this. And I don’t want to suggest that others aren’t doing their jobs, but are we just super vigilant? Do these students try this in our classes because we’re young and they think we’re stupid? We both have reputations already for busting students for this, at least I think we do. Some of my other colleagues have just quit giving research paper assignments, even for their 300-400 level classes just so they don’t have to deal with the issue, which I don’t agree with that either. I don’t really try too hard to come up with "plagiarism proof" assignments because the ones who want to cheat are going to anyway, so I’m not going to create extra work for myself by trying to figure out a way for them not to cheat–that shouldn’t be my job, trying to keep students from cheating, which is why I don’t care if they use laptops for in class essays. If they can’t "resist" the urge to cheat, then they shouldn’t use their laptops. I have other things to do with my life than to help students not cheat. Some argue that I’m setting students up for failure by allowing them to use laptops for in class essays. But I honestly don’t see how that means I’m inviting them to cheat. Typed essays are easier for me to read than their handwriting.
The thing that I’m still pissed off about is that busting them is time consuming. Even the easy ones. It involves reports, photo copying, collating the evidence–it needs to be done, but what cheeses me off is that I get the feeling that 75% of my colleagues just don’t want to be bothered with it so they don’t do the work to write them up and find some other reason to fail them or give their papers a lower grade or whatever. Because I really don’t hear any of my colleagues complain about this, and most of them really seem shocked at the amount of plagiarism I find. Or maybe I’m being unfair to my colleagues. Maybe they do complain, and I just don’t hear about it. Perhaps I’m not being fair. I’m sure there are lots of students who have who slipped under my radar, but it just annoys me that as long as students are willing to keep paying the tuition, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes it’s really frustrating that the college is so short sighted. But whatever. I don’t want to get into a discussion of who "deserves" to be in college and to be down on all students who enter the college on academic probation. A handful of them needed distance and a new environment in order to succeed. I’m not talking about those students. And I don’t want to focus on being judgmental about "bad" vs. "good" students.
So I’m just curious–do you guys deal with this a lot? Or is 9 in one year really not that many and I’ve overreacting here? Do you take time to try to come up with "plagiarism proof" assignments and/or do things to "remove temptation" for the students? Do I set them up for failure or am I being too hard on myself or am I being too hard on my colleagues, students, and/or institution? Or do I just suck it up as part of the job and plan to set aside time for having to deal with at least 3-4 cases a semester? Argh.