Faculty: Assignments + Other Info

Blog Assignment 1: Submit a Question

1)      Visit the blog at writingcenterunderground.wordpress.com 

2)     Search the blog posts to find a topic
a.         you would like to know more about
b.         you have a question about
c.         that your instructor has suggested you might work on

 3)     Compose a question to submit to the blog. My question for the blog post titled _____________________________________________________is:


 4)     How to post a question/comment:

  1.     Scroll to the bottom of the page at the conclusion of the post.
  2.     In the box under “Leave a Reply,” where it says “Enter your comment here,” type your question.
  3.    Once your question is approved by the blog administrator, it will show on the “comments”   section. 
  4.   If you use an email other than your MCC email, the administrator may not approve the request, as it may automatically go into the “spam” folder.


 Blog Assignment 2: Group Presentations

Objective: To give students an alternative to passively learning information by engaging them to be active participants in learning.

Learning Outcome: Students will better understand material if they have to contextualize information to present to others and “teach” a lesson. Critical thinking skills will improve as they work to determine how to best present info to others.

1)     Divide class into groups of 2-3

2)   Assign each group one topic in Grammar or Punctuation or have groups search the blog for topics they would like to present a lesson on.

Example: if you have five groups, assign the five most common sentence-level errors for each group to present a “lesson” on for the entire class. Some lessons from the blog include:

Dangling modifiers
Active and Passive Voice
Eliminate wordiness
Commas, semi-colons, and colons

3)   Have students visit the blog at writingcenterunderground.wordpress.com using the blog as a starting point for their lesson.  Give students ample amount of time to study the blog and prepare their “lesson.” (The assignment may need to be homework for shorter classes.)

4)    Students could also create handouts, short exercises, a brief PowerPoint presentation, or other      visual aids.

5)    Instructors might choose to include a “Group Presentation” component to their curriculum.


Blog Assignment 3: Blogger for a Day

1)     Visit writingcenterunderground.wordpress.com and study the blog posts.

2)   Find a writing-related topic that has not been covered in the blog, or a topic that you could more fully develop.

3)   Write a 500-750-word “post.” Your post should include:

a.       a brief introduction to the topic
b.      2-3 examples
c.       a conclusion that anticipates any questions
d.       engaging language appropriate for a wide public audience
e.      an appropriate visual image

Your post could also include
▫   Text with links
▫   Video
▫   Music
▫   “For further reading” list

Instructor will pick a “winning” blog post to submit to Writing Center Underground for online publication.


Instructor Plagiarism Survey & Assignment

Several months ago, the MCC English Department faculty were asked to participate in a very informal survey for our blog on student plagiarism. They were asked if they have observed more intentional (flagrant cheating) or unintentional (failure to cite properly) plagiarism. Quite honestly, I was a bit surprised at the responses. 

Even though overall “unintentional” responses were greater, the number of instructors who responded “intentional” were much more numerous than  anticipated. The majority of “unintentional” responses included numerous mentions of “intentional” plagiarism as well, though not as numerous. Many instructors voiced concerns about what seems to be a growing problem, not just in our institution, but on college campuses across the county.

This week’s blog post will include a recent NY Time’s article, “More Students Willing to Cheat.”  This article and results of our survey could be a teaching opportunity. Consider presenting the article and opening it up for class discussion. And as always, encourage your students to visit WritingCenterUnderground to leave their comments or questions.

Plagiarism Survey Responses

1.      I would say that students most often plagiarise unintentionally.  They quote too liberally and offer passages much too long for their short papers without providing proper credit.

2.      I’d say the majority (60-70%) is intentional.  Instances where it’s unintentional, I just show them how to fix it. 

3.      I think much of the plagiarism issues I come across are from a combination of ignorance, forgetfulness, and laziness. Most want to do it correctly, but do a big push to get the essay written and then are in a hurry to get the paper in on time. The source part goes by the wayside or is a quick and dirty version that is not accurate.

4.      More often than not, it’s sloppy scholarship, I’d say.  I don’t know if I’d go so far to say that it’s always unintentional, though, because sloppiness is irresponsible.  If they cared enough, they would intentionally go to the proper lengths to get it right. So I guess I’m saying plagiarism usually occurs on varying levels of intentionality falling somewhere on a scale of wrongness from dishonesty to sloppiness.

5.      Over the years, I guess I have found both intentional and unintentional plagiarism.  For me, the unintentional is easiest to deal with.  Because I require students to work on papers in stages and to submit multiple drafts, I can usually identify unintentional plagiarism and make the situation into a teaching/learning experience. Instances of intentional plagiarism seem to have similarities. 

6.      For the most part, in my experience, plagiarism is unintentional with a very small portion that is intentional. Now, I am finding that students of another language are more apt to plagiarize intentionally than students of the English language. Not to say that ESL students are dishonest.
Let me elaborate. I feel that ESL students are conscientious of doing such a good job with the English language that they feel inadequate when they don’t understand an assignment and look to the internet for help. So in this sense, it is unintentional.

(NOTE FROM EDITOR: In many foreign cultures, plagiarism, or copying of another’s work, is a sign of respect for that piece of work or writer; it’s so good, others choose to use it.)

7.      For the most part, I’d say I’ve run into unintentional plagiarism much more frequently than the blatant, intentional type. They both involve some level of laziness, though, either not wanting to take the time to cite correctly or not wanting to do the work themselves at all. The unintentional plagiarists, for the most part, are quick to correct their citation errors and seem genuinely contrite when it is pointed out to them.

8.      It is hard to say a percentage. I have had cases of both. In my most recent experience–they plagiarism tends toward the intentional. I would say 3 out 5 of my last cases have been on purpose.

9.      Plagiarism is an important topic for English teachers, probably all collegiate instructors to talk about. It is prolific! I estimate that aside from flawed attempts to paraphrase, wherein one’s paraphrased words are too similar to those of the original passage, the plagiarism I have observed is about 50/50 between intentional and unintentional. And I wonder if sometimes the plagiarism that I deem unintentional is actually intentional on the part of my more intelligent students, who probably hope I will consider small acts of plagiarism to be mistakes rather than intentional deceit. The two most common forms of plagiarism in my experience are probably as follows, in no particular order: 1) Giving credit to a source yet failing to use quotation marks when directly quoting, and 2) failing to give credit to sources when paraphrasing or summarizing information (I have had many students who cite information ONLY when they directly quote a source). Unfortunately, cases of blatant and obviously intentional plagiarism are not rare. It is not altogether infrequent that I find essays which are nearly 100% plagiarized. The worst scenarios are those in which a student is caught blatantly plagiarizing on an early assignment, suffer a low grade and is warned that it is unacceptable, and then does it again on a later assignment. I hope my information is useful. Let me know if you would like further thoughts on this matter.

10.  Unfortunately, I vote “intentional.”  Because we cover the problem on the first day (via syllabus), discuss the definition of plagiarism prior to writing, refer to the rubric handed out with each paper assignment (which addresses plagiarism), and read samples of well-used quotes (anti-plagiarism) in class prior to beginning papers, I cannot imagine that a student could merely stumble upon plagiarism.  I know that I should never assume, but I just really want to when it comes to this matter.  Thus, because I feel that I adequately address plagiarism, I feel comfortable assuming that the few instances I have had regarding it have been intentional.   Oh- and the 2 students who pulled plagiarism just happened to have it occur on their final paper, of which their outlines and rough drafts always had an “excuse” for their absence, and after previous quarterly papers had no problem with plagiarism. 

11.  The majority of plagiarism that I encounter both in the writing center and in my classroom is unintentional. I think many writers struggle with paraphrasing, thinking that changing a word here and there is “good enough.” While intentional academic dishonesty does occur (and it’s typically very obvious when it does), I believe that most students at least try to do their own work.

12.   Way more often unintentional; occasionally intentional

13.  I’d say unintentional plagiarism is committed most often.  In fact, I can think of only two instances where deliberate and intentional large scale plagiarism took place in my classes.  Or at least, that I was aware took place.  I try to give assignments that are not conveniently plagiarized.  That seems to help a bit.  And the unintentional plagiarism is usually remedied with instruction on the topic of citing sources either informally or formally.  In those two major instances, I was able to Google a passage of the student writing, and their entire papers showed up from popular English paper websites.   I am by no means 100% certain that more deliberate plagiarism doesn’t take place, but I’m reasonably so. 

14.  Unintentional almost every time, though the intentional incidents stand out more clearly in the memory. 

15.  In my experience talking to student that I’ve caught plagiarizing, I’d say it’s more often intentional (students who can’t find an idea of their own for an essay, students who feel they don’t have time to write an essay) than unintentional, although of course I see both.

16.  Failure to paraphrase correctly. (Unintentional)

17.  In my experience, it was intentional (2 students).

18.  I see both intentional and unintentional plagiarism. Most frequent, by far, FAR and away is unintentional. These instances of unintentional occur most often in the first half of the term; the students involved are a cross section of well prepared and less-well prepared students. They are learning that academic writing is a bit different from what they are used to. Most often, they catch on quickly, and, after an instance or two of instruction, go on to cite things correctly.

Instances of intentional plagiarism—actual academic dishonesty—are rarer, and usually occur either toward the end of the term, or when a big assignment is due. My observation is that the students know that they are breaking the rules, and are motivated by either panic or greed. Corrective measures seldom work. If given the chance to “redo” the paper with proper citation or rewrite the paper so it is their work, no paper comes in. Feel free to quote or paraphrase my response–just provide proper citation.

 19.  I have mostly unintentional plagiarism, where students are still trying to learn to paraphrase–or, in the case of developmental writing, when they haven’t yet fully understood plagiarism (i.e. they know they shouldn’t take a whole essay, but they don’t know they can’t take lots of little pieces and put them together, with a few of their own words thrown in).

 So far, my main intentional plagiarism case had to do with a student turning in work that he had turned in to other classes–in one case, he had used the same piece in two classes already (yay for turnitin.com).  Unfortunately, he wouldn’t admit to it even when confronted on it, and told me that he had written each of his assignments for my class only.  The same person did plagiarize a whole paper from a website, which he thought he could do because I said that they could use research (even though I said it would have to be cited, paraphrased, etc.)  This student was an international student and may not have understood all the issues involved.

In my experience, the type of plagiarism I tend to discover in student work depends on the course in which they are writing.  “Intentional” plagiarism occurs most frequently in Basic Writing courses (copying or obtaining extra-extra assistance), and “unintentional” plagiarism occurs most frequently in Composition II courses. I tend not to discover plagiarism in Comp I because the nature of the assignments and the writing process in that course makes plagiarism difficult – or too much trouble.

20. I encounter the most plagiarism in Comp II because students are learning how to utilize sources and how to work with direct citations. By the time they have reached Comp II most students understand how to paraphrase, but this skill still challenges some students. Helping students understand and recognize unintentional plagiarism is part of the learning process – I don’t view unintentional plagiarism as a “bad” thing until the end of the course. Plagiarism that appears in a final draft is a different story. . . by then students should know exactly what plagiarism is and should have corrected those types of errors and weaknesses.

21.  I’m adjunct faculty teaching at different times  English 0960 and Comp I.  My experience with plagiarism has been blatant copying off of websites.   The other issues usually come to light through the writing process – i.e. I see problems as I look at initial paragraphs, first rough drafts, and so forth.   The plagiarism hasn’t happened too often, but when it has, it’s always difficult.  😦

22.  When I’m teaching 0950, 0960, and 1010, I find that most of the plagiarism is unintentional.  Students haven’t been taught how to quote, integrate, paraphrase, synthesize and the like.  I treat it as a teachable moment and, unless there is some serious denial and malfeasance, it turns out well. I have had a different experience in Comp II.  Every quarter that I’ve taught it here and many moons ago at K-state, I have always had at least one student attempt to turn in work that isn’t theirs or plagiarize in a significant way.  Turn it in has helped to reduce the unintentional stuff quite a bit.  I use the Turn it in report as a way to teach better paraphrasing and citing. Unfortunately, though, because the research paper meets resistance from students, I still have one issue or so a quarter.  I believe it comes from the student not giving the process the time it needs to be successful.  Then, at the last minute, panic sets in and the student makes a choice and gambles on getting away with cheating.

Thanks to all who participated.






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