Revolution Lullabye

May 25, 2009

Valentine, Plagiarism as Literacy Practice

Valentine, Kathryn. “Plagiarism as Literacy Practice: Recognizing and Rethinking Ethical Binaries.” CCC 58.1 (Sept 2006): 89-109.

Plagiarism needs to be understood and treated more broadly as a literacy practice rather than a black-and-white ethical binary, for the ethical lens through which we talk about plagiarism casts our students’ identities in particular ways they cannot dictate and does not validate certain kinds of student writing and work. Valentine uses an extended example of Lin, a 3rd year international PhD student who was accused of (and admitted to) plagiarism on a literature review. Valentine sees his lack of citation and original argument not as a criminal, unethical, and dishonest act, but rather as a an unawareness of American graduate education citation and literacy expectations. It is important to see the bigger picture teach plagiarism, then, not just as an ethical problem – one in which all students are in danger of being dishonest – but as a negotiation of cultural and social contexts and literacy practices.

Quotable Quotes

“Plagiarism is a literacy practice…something that people do with reading and writing” (89).

“Plagiarism becomes plagiarism as a part of a practice that involves participants’ values, attitudes, and feelings as well as their social relationships to each other and to the institutions in which they work” (89-90).

“The problem with teaching citation and plagiarism as rule following is that it is not enough for students to know the textual practices of citation. Rather, students need to know citation and plagiarism as literacy practices – as complicated ways of making meaning” (105).

Notable Notes

Butler – performative identites – you have your identity by what you do (students’ identities are formed by whether or not they adhere to textual citation practices and expectations)

students live in fear of plagiarizing. They aren’t safe – even honest students can unknowingly trip up and plagiarize, then labeled as dishonest (fear of going to jail as a kid)

ethical morality (Zygmunt Bauman) – being moral because you are following a rule, not because you are acting on what you think is right…no personal individual moral responsibility or choices needed

May 12, 2009

Whiteman and Gordon, The Price of an ‘A’

Whiteman, Sherri A. and Jay L. Gordon. “The Price of an ‘A’: An Educator’s Responsibility to Academic Honesty.” The English Journal. 91.2 (November 2001), 25-30.

This article begins with a short piece by Whiteman, a high school English teacher, where she laments students as unethical, plagiarizing cheaters and calls on teachers to rally against them and those who allow rampant Internet cheating to happen and profit. She is countered by Gordon, a college professor who argues that if students were given more specific assignments that were difficult to plagiarize, a lot of the cheating would, by necessity, disappear. Whiteman answers Gordon by saying the kinds of assignments teachers give are to prepare them for future work in the academy and, good assignment or not, students should behave ethically and not plagiarize.

Quotable Quotes

“The invaluable benefits of abundant access to the information superhighway have been outweighed by its ability to create non-thinking, non-reading patrons of plagiarism” (26).

“How do we as educators reconcile our ability to teach effectively with our students’ ability to cheat and steal without our knowledge?” (26)

“Students do not plagiarize in a vacuum” (27)

Notable Notes

Whiteman gives up, says she should only focus on the “potential of my more ambitious and honest students” (26)

high school v. college perceptions on the issue

still demonizing, infantilizing students

investigate the problem – what can teachers do to prevent plagiarism? Is changing the assignment enough? What about schools’ overreliance on papers, essays, to evaluate students? Are their too many grades? (mine) connection to what plagiarism is – is it all about students being unethical?

it’s not about baffling, bewildering, upsetting, disheartening teachers. it’s bigger than that (me)

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