Students discussed definitions of plagiarism, ethics, personal integrity, paraphrasing, and cheating. Scenarios were given, and students had to determine the right thing to do. Here are the examples we discussed:
- You copy and paste a picture from Google Images into your powerpoint presentation, and list it on your works cited page. Is this ok?
- You are assigned a research project. Your older brother had Mrs. Vroome when he was in 6th grade. Your brother is really smart, and got a good grade on his project—the same project you now have to do. You find your brother’s old project, put some of the phrases into your own words, and turn it in. Is this ok?
- You have to create a poster on “The Lives of Ancient Roman Soldiers.” You find a website that has information you need. You type out the paragraphs word-for-word, print them, cut them out, and glue them to your posterboard, drawing your own pictures to illustrate the facts. You cite the website as a source you used. Is this ok?
- You have to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and write a book report on it. You put off reading the book, and ran out of time. You read about the book on Amazon and Spark Notes, and then write your own original book report. Is this ok?
- You have to create a project about a person who has overcome adversity. You find a book and several websites about Christopher Reeve. You read the information and take notes, then do a Powerpoint about all the things you learned, including a picture from a website. Your last slide is a list of the book and websites you used. Is this ok?
How did you do? Here are the answers:
- Yes. This is exactly what students should do. Students have a great deal of leeway when it comes to using images for school projects (fair use). The student in the example cited his picture, giving credit to the source.
- No. Not only did the student plagiarize by taking his brother's words and ideas, he cheated by reusing a project he didn't do. The purpose of the assignment was to research and do a project, and the student did neither of those things.
- This one is close, but the answer is no, only because he used the information word-for-word. If he had paraphrased, it would have been fine.
- This example is the toughest one for the students. In this case, the student did not plagiarize, since he wrote his own original book report. However, he did cheat by not reading the book. The purpose of the assignment was to read the book and he pretended he read the book, but did not.
- Yes! This is a perfect example of correct behavior. The student conducted research, took notes, put together a project, and cited everything he used. Good job, student!
All MPMS students sign an honor code each year. Younger students will get a parent signature, too. Now that students are aware of what plagiarism and cheating are, as well as ways to avoid them, we can all Show Our "SPOTS" with our ethical behavior.
~ Mrs. T.