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How Would You Handle This?

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spunky7 spunky7 is offline
 
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How Would You Handle This?
Old 01-04-2017, 01:14 PM
 
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I recently assigned my students an essay. Two students has the exact same thesis and type of idea in their essays. They even had three phrases that were exactly the same. I talked to the boys and neither will admit to plagiarizing the other. I know who passed their paper in first. Student 1 also gave his paper to student 2 to peer edit so I think it's entirely possible student 2 thought he was using it for "inspiration." Or maybe he just wanted more ideas but I still feel that it's plagiarism for sure. I just don't know what to do. Neither student has changed their paper so far and I told them I won't give credit for copied work. Can I accuse the second student without actual evidence? What would you do to handle this?


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Old 01-04-2017, 01:58 PM
 
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I would Google several phrases from both papers. It's possible BOTH students turned in plagiarized work.

I've experienced this many times with thesis work. Some students think they can change words using a Thesaurus and it makes the work their own.
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Old 01-04-2017, 03:19 PM
 
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Thanks, I'll definitely try that just to make sure but it wasn't a topic that required research and it was the main thesis statement that was similar. It seemed to be a very 7th grade topic, lol, but I will check on it just to make sure.
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Well
Old 01-04-2017, 04:35 PM
 
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I personally wouldn't accuse without evidence. I have a policy that if work is copied both students have to redo but I state this up front when something is assigned. I don't know if you could do that in this case after the fact.

I do agree with the previous poster about checking if both are plagiarized.
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An idea
Old 01-04-2017, 07:37 PM
 
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Because the one boy peer edited and likely took the other's ideas for inspiration, I'm guessing it wasn't intentional plagiarism. I've had similar incidents - not exactly like this. So what I did was meet privately with the students, show them the similarities, compliment them on the good parts of their papers, and explain that I couldn't in good conscience grade their papers because of the similarities. I'd give them the chance to rewrite their papers. You may have to contact parents before you do this, just as a CYA. Don't make accusations, but try and get them to sympathize with YOUR dilemma. Usually they will agree to both rephrase and rewrite. Only once did I have to resort to the second option (this was a case of one definitely copying the other, not just paraphrasing). Neither would admit to copying the other. So, I took the grade that one paper would have received and divided it in half, giving each half credit. Parents were upset. I explained what had happened. One boy finally admitted to copying from the other boy. He rewrote his paper and received half credit because it was late. The other boy got his full grade. Both boys had to write letters of apology to me and their parents during their subsequent detentions. Our principal was a former English teacher and had my back.


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Old 01-04-2017, 10:56 PM
 
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I'd tread lightly on boy #1. You don't know he allowed the other child to copy. You yourself stated that he gave it to him for peer editing. If my child came home in those circumstances, and had to redo or get a bad grade, I'd be furious.

As for kid two, talk to him privately and try to gauge if he gets that it's plagiarism. Some kids really struggle to understand just how reworded things need to be. He may need some reteaching.

Now after talking to him, if you determine he gets it and was indeed copying, then throw the book at him.
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Old 01-05-2017, 01:42 PM
 
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I sorted it out today. I basically told the boys I wasn't blaming anyone. I underlined parts of their papers that were the same. Student 2 eventually agreed to change his. Student 1 wouldn't budge and I think it's because he knew it was his work. I told them it's easy to accidentally plagiarize so they need to be careful. Student 2 was able to change his paper in just a few minutes. I'll know from now on to warn the students about this ahead of time.
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:36 AM
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Yay!
Old 01-23-2017, 07:56 PM
 
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Really liked how you handled it. It's not a blame game and you were honest with them about what you noticed.
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