Friday, February 29, 2008

Weirdness upon weirdness

As some of you know (particularly my current and former students), I have a real bug about plagiarism. There's no insult I take more personally than when a student of mine cheats on an assignment.

When I grade papers, I'm constantly looking for things that don't sound "student-ish," etc., some of the tipoffs that plagiarism has taken place.

I've been grading papers this week, summary & response to part of a chapter from a rather excellent book, LeAnn Snow Flesher's Left Behind? The Facts Behind the Fiction. And a couple of students have misused the word "fluidity." They've both misused the word in ways similar to one another. And yet they clearly aren't plagiarizing each other, and there's no hint of them simultaneously plagiarizing a third source.

What am I to conclude? SOMEHOW these two students have both, by some cosmic hiccough, misused the same word in the same way on the same assignment for the same professor, and it's entirely concidental? There is no better explanation--at least, not that I know of.



Anonymous Seth Adam Heller said...

If I were a betting man (and if Governor Beshear has his way, I might soon be a betting man) i would put my money on Amazon Review Comments on the listing for the book that the students were assigned. Either that or they listened to Aoxomoxoa in its entirety and the "fluiditiy" of the experience caused them to be so overwhelmed, they had no choice but to use a plethora of phrases unbecoming to your average college student. (sidenote: in my journey through academia, i have made it my solemn pledge to use the word "plethora" in every assignment I have ever written. Dig it.)

10:51 PM  
Blogger Theophilus Punk (PLStepp) said...

Hey, Sethman. Your plethora pledge I find amusing; I once made a pledge to always use the same pattern in my multiple choice tests. In other words: the correct answers to my multiple choice tests used to be ABABBADBCBA over and over again, regardless of the test, regardless of the subject. And no student ever caught on.

Of course, I don't give multiple choice tests any more.

Come to think of it, I was listening to Aoxomoxoa when I made that pledge.

8:59 AM  

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