This posting is an updated version of a post from November 2016: Writing Class: Dealing with Plagiarism (Don’t Take It Personally)
In October 2016, Tiffany Martínez, a Latina student at Suffolk University in Boston, was accused of plagiarism by her sociology professor in front of the entire class. Huffington Post plagiarism story What caused him to be suspicious? The word “hence.” On her paper, he circled the place where she had written the word “hence” and wrote in the margin, “This is not your word.”
In my many years as an ESL instructor, I’ve witnessed instructors over-reacting in suspected plagiarism situations. It seems as if those instructors were taking it personally, feeling like they were being disrespected. Too often instructors seem to see it as a “gotcha” opportunity.
Plagiarism Learning Opportunities
Unless there is proof, the instructor shouldn’t accuse the student. It would be more damaging to falsely accuse a students of plagiarizing who had worked hard than to “let” a students who actually plagiarized slip by. If the student actually plagiarized, and the instructor has proof, it can be viewed as a learning opportunity.
Here are some options depending on the situation.
As I mentioned in Part 1, it is possible for our ESL students to be intrinsically motivated to learn English. And there are ways that we can help them develop this. I discussed the first two recommendations based on research: 1) Give Students Autonomy and 2) Explain the Purpose of the Assignment.. Here, in Part 2, I explain the other three recommendations along with specific examples.
According to research, how we can promote intrinsic motivation.
As I was leaving the hardware store with some light bulbs, I asked the very helpful clerk, Rich, what his plans were for that evening. He said, “I get to go home and play with my tools.” He was going to help his neighbor with some plumbing project.
I now realize that I was witnessing someone with pure intrinsic motivation. Even after spending all day selling tools, he enjoyed them so much that he was looking forward to working with them just for the pleasure and satisfaction that he got from them.
It is possible for our ESL students to be similarly intrinsically motivated to learn English.
And there are ways that we can help them develop this.
(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
After reading Curry’s essays, I often came away feeling especially good. This kind of surprised me because she wasn’t among the top writers in my class. Her grammar tended to breakdown at times, and her sentence style could be a bit simple. And yet, there was something special about her papers.