One from the mailbag
This one is too good to hold. It's from a colleague on the same campus. As with my tales, certain details have been changed to protect the offender:
"From the first page, I could tell it wasn't student work. You can always tell. The intro is too slick, the punctuation is too perfect. So I ran a couple of sentences through Google and up pops the source -- a published review of (the same literary work).
"I printed out the original, highlighted the sections that were repeated verbatim in my student's paper and I called the student in to explain why the paper was getting an F.
"When I handed over the evidence -- the paper and the original source, highlighted to show the word-for-word similarities -- (the student) looked confused. You plagiarized, I told (the student).
"`But I read the book!' the student insisted. `I - I - I....'
"And then came the confession. `I asked my dad to help me because he said he'd read the book, too.'
"It took me a second or two to realize what this student was telling me. Then I got it -- dad had plagiarized the paper. (The student) thought Dad was helping with homework -- he thought he was helping -- and instead he did the very thing we warn students never to do."
My colleague then did something beyond generous. "Your father earned the F," the student was told. "Now go write your own paper and I'll grade yours."
And we wonder why students try such shortcuts. In academic terms it's called "modeled behavior." And it has nothing to do with skinny chicks on a runway in Milan.