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Teacher Lesson Return to "Skeeter McCheater’s Plagiarism Quiz"
Skeeter McCheater’s Plagiarism Quiz
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Plagiarism Quiz and Discussion

Objectives: Students will improve their knowledge of what plagiarism is, how to avoid committing it, and why it’s important. They will learn the definitions of words associated with plagiarism (the list you put on the board).

Before the activity: Write the following in two columns on the board:

Cite (verb): an overused expression
Paraphrase: a supplier of information
Quotation: to acknowledge a source
Quotation marks: repetition of a passage
Source: to quote or refer to
Credit (verb): to put a passage into other words
Cliché: indicate the start and end of a direct quote

Give the group an example of plagiarism: Read the following news item from the Associated Press:

ESPNews anchor apologizes for using writer's words
Wed Dec 29, 10:25 pm ET
BRISTOL, Conn. – An ESPN anchor has apologized for taking copy from a newspaper column and passing it off as his own.
ESPNews anchor Will Selva apologized Wednesday for using words from a column by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register to narrate highlights of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game Tuesday night against San Antonio.
The network says Selva came across the story while researching local stories to use as background. He pasted the story into his script, but never wrote his own words before reading it on air.
Selva says he “made a horrible mistake” in a statement put out by ESPN. Spokesman Josh Krulewitz says Selva called Ding to express remorse.
Krulewitz didn’t say if Selva was suspended, but said “we’ve taken appropriate action.”
Note: ESPN suspended the reporter indefinitely as of December 30.

Then ask for volunteers to define plagiarism. The definitions should sound something like the one Evin Cruz provides: “To steal or pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own.”

Read and discuss: Tell the group to read Evin’s short introduction to the quiz. When they are done, ask them what can happen if someone is caught plagiarizing. Make sure they understand that people have lost jobs, failed college courses, been put on academic probation or expelled, and suffered other consequences after being caught.

And also work this into the discussion: You don’t learn much when you copy and pass off someone else’s work as your own. Researching a topic and writing about it helps you develop important skills that all higher-end jobs require: summarizing information, using quotes to make a point, choosing important information and opinions from a large body of material, and paraphrasing.

Column test: Ask the group if they can match the definition to the words in the first column. Clear up any misconceptions.

Take the plagiarism quiz. Here are three options:
A: Ask the group to take the test individually, writing “yes” or “no” for each question.
B: Divide the group into smaller ones and have them work on it as teams.
C: Work on it as a group. Look at each question and discuss why it is or isn’t plagiarism.

After the test, read the answers out loud. One important point to make is that changing the words in a sentence is not enough to avoid plagiarism (as demonstrated by question #2).

Then go over the words on the list.

Reading: Assign them to read “Keeping It Honest.” It offers concrete suggestions on how to stay out of trouble.

Extension Assignment—Compare College Plagiarism Videos

Ask students to do a google search for “college plagiarism videos.” Tell them they’ll get more than 100 on YouTube alone. This activity will underscore how serious colleges are about preventing plagiarism. (Though the topic is serious, many of the videos are humorous.)

Assignment: Ask the students to view three of the videos and compare them. Items for comparison include: What aspects of plagiarism do they cover? What penalties do they mention for plagiarism at their school? Do schools have different standards for what constitutes plagiarism?
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