A learning opportunity
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.
Working hard but seemingly unappreciated
A colleague of mine was dumbfounded after getting back students’ evaluations of her class at the end of the term. One of the items on the evaluation form (which came from the college administration) was:
- My instructor returned checked homework to me ____________.
- a) always quickly b) sometimes quickly c) not quickly
All of her students circled (a) “always quickly” except two Japanese students who circled (c) “not quickly.” This confused not only her, but also the rest of us who knew that she was especially diligent about checking assignments and returning them the very next class.
Why was there this disconnect between these students’ perception and reality?