Idiocracy Report

I’ve been behind on grading.  Felt lousy.  Been busy.  Assorted reasons that I only just yesterday got to the second round of discussion questions for one of my classes.  I don’t often give writing assignments.  I can’t tolerate it much.  College students, for the most part, can’t write worth a damn.  They’re not learning basic 5 paragraph essays, they’re not learning how to support an argument, and they’re not learning how to properly cite stuff.  God help profs in the English department.  But in one of my classes I have a weekly discussion question that they have to answer with valid academic sources, properly cited and referenced in APA style. Basic.  Ludicrously easy by the standards of what I had to do when I went through college.

My university subscribes to Turnitin, an absolutely AWESOME website/software that detects plagiarism.  It caught three plagiarists this week.  Now it’s up to the professor to decide how to handle such things.  If it had been an example of somebody swiping text from the book and not citing it, I’d probably let them off with a low grade, issue a warning explaining what they’d done wrong, and just moved on.  But that’s not what this was.  This was wholesale copying and pasting from other websites that traffic in assignments at the college level.  Turnitin makes a lovely report giving percentages plagiarized, highlighting every stolen word, and giving the link to the source.  So there’s really not room for argument.  So when I got a 91%, 85%, and a 67% plagiarized, I gave in to my ill-temper over it being Monday and already cranky from other issues, and opted to give them zeroes and report them directly to the Honor Council so that if they do it again, they move up to the second level and fail the class.  Irritating, lots of paperwork, students notified, done.

And then.

And then one of my students had the nerve to ARGUE WITH ME, claiming that she didn’t copy and paste (there is no refuting the fact that she did, as she was making statements that had obviously come from graduate  coursework out of another program).  And THEN she had the audacity to tell me what constituted plagiarism.  I held it together–barely, and managed not to completely rip her a new one, but instead pointed out the errors in her statement and informed her that even had she actually included quotation marks (which she hadn’t), to indicate they weren’t her words, her answer would still have been wholly unacceptable and STILL plagiarized.

Y’all I had to have 4 squares of Ghiaradelli chocolate and then come home and have a glass of wine, I was so pissed off.

It’s not even the plagiarism itself that gets me.  I’ve been teaching too long to be surprised by the laziness of students.  No, what really infuriates me is the absolute INSULT to my intelligence that they put forth NO EFFORT and think that I’m too stupid to catch them.  Dude, if you’re going to plagiarize, at least pick multiple sources and mix it up some (at which point, really, you should just put forth that amount of effort on doing the ACTUAL work).  Don’t just wholesale copy and paste from a couple of random internet sources and think that’s gonna fly.  Don’t think I was freaking born yesterday.

And DON’T, for the love of all that is holy, dare lecture me, your professor, with years more training, on what constitutes plagiarism.

One more email.  Send me one more email arguing about this and I will fail you for the entire class.  I dare you. >.<

Idiot students should learn never to eff with me on a Monday.  I freaking hate Monday.

22 thoughts on “Idiocracy Report

  1. I just can’t believe people sink to this level. When I was in school, I worked for my grades and felt a sense of accomplishment when I earned them. These students are probably the same people who will be dishonest in whatever job they end up in. This makes me sad.

  2. Ahh, I see you did it anyway, It does feel good doesnt it. LOL I just can’t belive they actually think they will not get caught! I keep telling my kids they shouldn’t do it, but they are fearless.

  3. I can understand how you must feel. I’m sorry for the cheaters in your classes, but about all you can do is remind them that the only one they’re cheating is themselves. Don’t take what they do personally. Do your best to teach them the basics, appreciate and help the ones who really want to learn and ignore the rest. The cheaters and lazy ones will only bring you down emotionally. I just had a son graduate from college last August, and my daughter is finishing her last year. Good luck!

  4. I love teachers like you. I have no patience for profs that actually pander to the likes of these kids. Grrr. Have another glass of wine 🙂

  5. I know this made a bad day for you, but for some strange reason I enjoy reading these posts. Maybe it’s because they make me laugh. Love the Idiocracy Reports!

  6. I know exactly how you feel! I had one student who argued with me about his totally and obviously plagiarized 4 page paper on THREE separate occasions, I reported to the dean, who gives me the option on either failing him for the whole class or just for the paper. I opt to just fail the paper and give him a chance to save the rest of the semester. And then he just STOPS coming to class. Doesn’t drop, doesn’t email me or the dean. Just stops coming. I sure hope he wasn’t surprised by the F he got at the end of the semester.

  7. Do you have a good definition of plagiarism on your CIS? I will totally send you mine. It covers everything. Including “padding” — you know when students add citations to their bibliographies that they didn’t actually read or use in their papers? That is plagiarism, too. It’s lying. We spend a class going over it, discussing it, and I make them sign agreements so I never have to have a conversation. I just xerox the material, send students in the hall, and ask them to write WHY they think I have them in the hall. Ninety-seven percent of the time they fess up.

    Would LOVE to hear the argument the student presented to support that the paper was not plagiarized. I love when students leave in the hyperlinks. That is awesome. 😉

    I will send you my ordeal with plagiarism from last year.


  8. You go girl. Been teaching scads of years – millions of students – preaching that anti-plagiarism stuff religously, but every semester I have at least one who thinks either he/she can get by or that I’m too stupid to know. The ones I love are those whose “writing” is so much better than their actual writing (better than mine, too) and they think I won’t be suspicious. Lazy, sloppy, immature – don’t know what the cause is but I’m tired of it, too.

  9. Oh! I got one of my tests graded as plagiarized when I was in college. Now, the problem was that I didn’t cite my resources. The problem was that I used Chicago style instead of APA. So, my teacher pointed out that what I did isn’t APA and I looked at my reference book again to make sure I understand next time. Then there was the dreaded group project. One of my groupmates was accused of plagiarism. We literally glared at that person (we’re seniors at this point) because our grades were brought down by that action (none of us plagiarized). It seems that you’re dealing with freshmen (are they?).

  10. I teach English in a state technical community college that THINKS students who want to be welders and truck drivers and hair dressers need research skills. They plagarize all over the place. It is wholly amazing when one of them lifts a complete assignment from the Internet and then insists that NO, she didn’t. It was just a huge coincidence. I want to retire.

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