Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is plagiarism and is it always bad?

Malcolm Gladwell argues that since we are all guilty of plagiarism none of us are guilty of plagiarism. Fallacious? You be the judge. Follow this link, then check out Professor Ira Singer's claim that there are fallacies in his arguments.

What is Plagiarism, and Is it Always Bad?

Professor Singer says:
Seems like a fallacy of division followed by a fallacy of composition.

Argument 1:

(1) To reproduce without attribution a substantial piece of writing produced by someone else is plagiarism.
(2) Substantial pieces of writing can be divided into individual words.
Therefore, to reproduce without attribution a word produced by someone else is plagiarism.

Argument 2:

(1) Almost all of the words anyone uses were produced by someone else (or anyway by a long slow cultural process, not by oneself), and people use almost all of these words without attribution. So people plagiarize almost all of the time in their use of individual words; yet people are held blameless for this.
(2) Substantial pieces of writing are composed of words.
(3) Since almost all of the words in each substantial piece of writing are plagiarized, each substantial piece of writing is also plagiarized.
(4) If each act of word-plagiarism is to be held blameless, the composite act of substantial-piece plagiarism is also to be held blameless.
Therefore what's the big deal about plagiarism?

I'll add my own argument, Argument 3: Mandate good, solid critical thinking courses at all levels of education before we are all lost, utterly lost!

Ira Singer, Chair, Department of Philosophy

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cheating Scandal Rocks U of Central Florida

At the University of Central Florida more than 500 students were forced to retake an exam because an answer key had been passed around, ostensibly via social networking sites. Was the response a good one? What about the students who didn't cheat? What would you have done if the answer key had landed in your box? What would you have done if you were the professor, or the University? Check out the story:

Friday, November 5, 2010

SGA Academic Affairs Poses Integrity Dilemmas

The Student Government Association's Academic Affairs Committee recently teamed up with the Academic Integrity Task Force to get students talking about academic integrity. Each month, we come up with an ethical dilemma for students to think about and respond to. They will be featured on posters hanging throughout campus, with pens attached so students can respond immediately while reading the responses of other students. We want students to voice their opinions while hearing what others have to say. It’s all about facilitating conversation.

Our first question asks whether it is ethical to work with another student on a take-home exam. You can see from the picture, of a poster located in the library, that students have a variety of opinions on this one. The posters are located in various academic and residential buildings throughout campus, and have already garnered some great feedback! We’ll be collecting the comments at the end of the month. Add your voice by writing on a poster, or, post a comment here on the AI Blog.

Join the conversation!

Melanie Rosner, Chair, SGA Academic Affairs Committee

Monday, November 1, 2010

CTSE Sponsors Brown Bag Discussion on Academic Integrity

On Wednesday October 27, The Hofstra Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence hosted its second brown bag discussion of Academic Integrity. The conversation focused mainly on what faculty thought were best practices when it came to promoting academic integrity, and whether there was adequate support from among students toward this end. Focusing first on the University's mission, it was affirmed that despite recent word changes, Hofstra still takes "cultivating students' ethical and social responsibility" to be a core educational goal. Still, there was also consensus that among some students the "case for integrity" still had to be made. It is our job to help them see how in their "long-run" interests are ill served by short-term short cuts. As Susan Martin said toward the end of the discussion, we've got to make clear to them that "We are in this thing together. Together we create the atmosphere that makes their education possible. We (both faculty and students) will do what needs to be done to ensure that students graduate with the skills they came to Hofstra seeking. And together, we're not going to allow a few outliers (i.e. those few who cheat regularly) to undermine what we do, or define the Hofstra experience.

Among those at this discussion there was considerable agreement that moving toward a more robust honor code structure, one where students regularly affirmed their commitment to honesty when submitting assignments, would be a reasonable strategy to consider seriously.