In this lesson, students will learn about what constitutes different types of plagiarism and practice integrating outside material into their own writing, taking care to attribute correctly. Two video tutorials preface the exercise, and additional handouts comprise a sequential activity where students will first identify plagiarism within a provided context, and then craft paragraphs that both interact with source material and separate that material from their own work. Librarians can coordinate with classroom teachers to provide instruction, as well as select alternative source examples more applicable to particular course subjects.
English language arts
English Language Arts teacher
Social studies teacher
Students will learn about what constitutes plagiarism, as well as steps to ensure they cite sources correctly.
Video tutorials: "Defining Plagiarism" and "Avoiding Plagiarism: Cite Your Sources" from ABC-CLIO in "Where Do Your Ideas End and Mine Begin?": Navigating the Boundaries of Plagiarism."
Handout with excerpts and exercises (online or hard copy):
Three class periods
A.I.1. Interacting with content presented by others.
B.VI.2. Acknowledging authorship and demonstrating respect for the intellectual property of others.
C.VI.1. Sharing information resources in accordance with modification, reuse, and remix policies.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Have students watch first video tutorial, "Defining Plagiarism" and engage in informal class discussion to agree on what does and does not constitute plagiarism (for example: weak differentiation between ideas from writer and source, confusing quoting with paraphrasing, omitting citation, etc.).
Once plagiarism criteria has been established, have students watch second video tutorial, "Avoiding Plagiarism: Cite Your Sources." Then assign students Exercise 1 ("What Counts as Common Knowledge?"), in which students read a brief passage from an outside source followed by three brief student writing samples. On their own, students determine whether or not plagiarism is occurring in each sample and write explanations for their responses. Students can then share their responses in group discussions (note: give students room to support their own beliefs about each sample, since they will likely have differing opinions on whether or not plagiarism is present in each sample.)
Outcome of Day 1: Students gain a macro-level understanding of what type of content does/does not require source attribution.
Either in class or as homework, have students complete Exercise 2 ("Plagiarize on Purpose!"), in which they write a paragraph that demonstrates plagiarism purposefully, incorrectly using information from the provided source sample. Once students have their plagiarized work ready, they can work in pairs, swap paragraphs, and critique how "well" their partner plagiarized the source in their own work.
Outcome of Day 2: Students gain an understanding of what actions result in plagiarism and what the plagiarism act itself feels like, awareness which is necessary in order to avoid plagiarizing in writing tasks later.
After students complete the purposeful plagiarism act on Day 2 and share the experience with a peer, they are now prepared for the final exercise, Exercise 3 ("Giving Credit to Your Experts"). In class or as homework, students revise their previously written paragraph, removing all acts of plagiarism and instead integrating material from the provided source correctly by (1): utilizing a signal phrase introducing the source, (2): following rules for accurate quoting/paraphrasing, and (3): providing correct citations.
Outcome of Day 3: Students emerge from the exercise with greater awareness of how plagiarism occurs and the different forms unintentional plagiarism can take, as well as confidence in their ability to effectively integrate and attribute outside source material in future assignments.
Students can work through the exercises alone or in collaboration (although the final exercise may need to take place outside of the classroom due to time constraints). Educators can use the provided materials or bring in sources from existing course curriculum. Librarians can use the exercise sequence as separate workshop in the library space, or collaborate with classroom teachers in an ongoing discussion about the importance of ethical research practices and academic honesty.
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
- Demonstrate fundamental knowledge about source credit and integration
- Apply plagiarism awareness to their own work
- Share knowledge in paired or small group discussions
Abilock, Debbie. "Adding Friction. How Do I Teach Students to Avoid Plagiarism?" School Library Connection, January 2019. http://schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2184539.
Darr, Terry. Combating Plagiarism: A Hands-On Guide for Librarians, Teachers, and Students. Libraries Unlimited, 2019. https://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A5829P.
Darr, Terry. "Considering the Audience: Common Knowledge Questions." School Library Connection, March 2019. http://schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2221947?topicCenterId=2158552.