This post is further to the previous one about the homework project set for my year 6 class over the previous term. Whilst looking through them it has become apparent that many of the children are just lifting information straight from websites without putting it into their own words. This becomes clearly evident when they present their work as they can’t pronounce half the words in ‘their’ work, and I have spoken to the class about this before. However, I was struck by the project of one child, one of the brightest in my class, which on presenting he said was all his own work, yet so far, having googled the first ten paragraphs, find that it’s all just been copied and pasted from just a couple of websites. This did shock me a little and I guess I was a more than a little disappointed that he’d spent 10 weeks just aimlessly copying and probably hasn’t learnt anything from the process.
In the information-laden world that the children live in today they have never-ending access to any information they want/need, and it’s so easy, and so often free, to get hold of that they really don’t understand that ideas belong to somebody and that they should be credited for them if they wish to use them in their own work.
Cases of plagiarism are taken extremely seriously in terms of GCSE and A level coursework, and at university and the reason why essay websites come up as ‘criminal activity’ on the school’s filtering system. Perhaps this is something that needs dealing with at a much earlier age now, before children (and possibly their parents too – I had some homework in my first year of teaching where the parent/child had just printed out a web page) think that copying straight from websites is OK to do.
Before I set my class their next project I need to:
– Discuss what plagiarism is and why it is such a problem
– Discuss with the class some consequences that will be set up if they continue to plagiarise (I will let them decide on suitable consequences)
– Do some more work on how to pick out key information from texts
– Look at how to put something into their own words
– How to quote information
– Show them how to reference the places they use for information
– Be more specific in the project I set them so that it is not so easy for them to plagiarise in the first place.