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russell russell arussel at bgnet.bgsu.edu
Sat Nov 15 11:29:26 EST 1997

>SPELLING ON THE LAB REPORTS!  I have heard students say "this is a science
>course, not an english course", and I have heard TA's say the same.  As a
>TA, I grade all the lab reports and write-ups the same way - proper
>spelling and grammar are important and work into the overall grade.  In
>addition, I try to teach the students how to use citations and the *true*
>meaning of plagiarism.  I get SLAMMED on my student evaluations as being
>too tough and nit-picky.  Though this may prevent me from being considered
>for teaching awards and such, in the long run it's worth it to me.

I double this one! Not only do the majority of my students (both when I 
was in Ohio and now that I've gone on to Tennessee) do not seem capable 
of constructing a complete thoght and expressing it in writing. I get 
papers turned in that are indecipherable in both spelling and grammar. 
And the handwriting is so bad that I will not accept an assignment unless 
it is typed. Which leads to another question: why, when the students are 
paying $200 per semester for a "technology fee" do I still get papers 
that were tped out on an electric typewriter?

>> The obvious copying lab reports/ prelabs and other homework.....
>This is when I again raise and discuss what plagiarism is and that it is
>illegal.  Usually blank stares are the most I can hope for.

My biggest concern with this issue is not so much that the students try 
to get away with it; I think that they will always try. I am concerned 
when the response of the immediate authority (the TA, the lab 
coordinator, the department head) is to say "well, just tell them not to 
do it again" or "just give them an f on the paper". The stated 
consequence of plagairism in most school handbooks is expulsion! If the 
student(s) is told only to not do it again, why wouldn't they? they are 
essentially getting away with it! I understand that it is a big hassle to 
follow through with punishing the student, but if we don't follow through 
then we are excusing an inexcuable behavior. Cheating at any level is 
wrong and should never be excused as not a big deal. 


Amy L. Russell
Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
russella at utkux.utcc.utk.edu
Joseph Stalin, I've always loved you.         |  Amy L. Russell
Take hold of my armor-plated mumu             |  Dept. of Biological Sciences
And together we shall leave this foul planet. |  Bowling Green State Univ.
                    -The Tick                 |  arussel at bgnet.bgsu.edu

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