Friday, May 21, 2010

English Final: Letter

To whom this may concern,
I am a student at San Francisco State University, in my English class, taught by Sarah Fama, we were given an assignment about students plagiarizing in SFSU. Through our research my classmates and I have discover some really interesting issues. For this assignment we were split into groups, each group had their own sub topic. Those topics are academic culture, demographics, extracurricular activities, and student motivation. With these topics split, we can all go in depth and share the information with each other afterward. We have conducted surveys and interviews to students who attend San Francisco State. Through the research we have found out that many students have plagiarize before and what made them plagiarize which leads me to this letter. Plagiarism is just a word that students hear all the time from their professors and teachers. I’ve known the word ever since I have been in school but I never truly knew the definition of the word, but I do know what will happen if we did plagiarize. Many students like me only know the basic definition of what plagiarism is and the punishment that we will get if we plagiarize but not many know what is consider plagiarism. Plagiarism is a word that we hear throughout a student’s whole school life. No teacher has ever gone in depth of what plagiarism actually is. There are so many gray areas that a lot of students know of. Most students know what will happen if we plagiarize but what is plagiarism? My definition of plagiarism is using someone else’s work without properly citing them. According to Susan Blum, My Word! Plagiarism means “…the nature of texts and authorship, and the nature and motives of the person doing the work turned in for credit.” As you can see the definitions are somewhat different from each other. The reason for that is because not everyone has the same definition of what plagiarism is, some people may not even have a clear idea of what plagiarism is. Many students including me only know that if we plagiarize we will be in a lot of trouble. I would like to recommend some ideas for San Francisco State for dealing with students who plagiarize and also help lessen students that do plagiarize.
San Francisco State teachers should go in depth with students on what is exactly is plagiarism and types of plagiarism are there so students can be careful with their writing or researching. Some types of plagiarisms I don’t even know about until I learned about it in English class. The different types of plagiarisms are patch- writing, copy from web, copy from another person, re-using another paper from another class, having someone else write your paper, you write for others, fail to cite, and etc. There are many more different types of plagiarism out there. I just named a few to show you the basic idea. Without naming the different types of plagiarism to students, how would they know if they plagiarize or not. “Of the forty four, one answered that they had indeed purchased a paper for an assignment, one checked that they had copied text from the from the internet, six had copied the text of another person, ten had reused writing assignments from their past, three had copied from other texts and failed to cite them, seven students had allowed another person to write their assignment for them, six had written assignments for others, and nine had simple failed to cite their sources. Four students answered the question unsure; eighteen revealed that they had never plagiarized (Chang, 2010, p.4). Though students do know that they have plagiarized and which category it lands into. There are at least some students who plagiarize but don’t understand why it is consider plagiarism. In the study that we conducted in class it shows that twenty percent of the students have fail to cite properly. Is it their fault that they fail to cite? If teachers have teach us how to properly cite this problem will not come up. Students who did not properly cite did not intend to not cite properly. These are accident plagiarism. With so many types of plagiarism are in the gray area, teachers should identify which are in the gray areas so students would know and be caution on what they are going to writing or use.
Rather than just punishing students for plagiarizing, San Francisco state should reason with students rather than just kicking them out of school right away. Many students did not plagiarize on purpose. If a student patch-write and got kicked out of school is kind of ridiculous. There should be different types of punishments for students who did different types of plagiarism. For those who intend to plagiarize of course should be kicked out of school, but for those who did not cite properly can have alternative punishment. Maybe take a class or workshop on how to cite properly so they will not make the same mistake again. For those who re-use a paper from another class, the teacher can make the student redo the paper and on top of that write why they plagiarize for their punishment. With these ideas it can help students learn their wrongs rather than just kicking them out of school, without knowing what they did wrong, in the future they will just continue in doing what they did wrong because they did not know what the right way is. Having a workshop or class for students to learn the proper way of citing or what exactly is plagiarism can help a student grow and will not make those mistakes again.
Many students have other issues in life beside just school, having homework on top of homework it can be very stressful for students. According to the research we did, “With 40% of the 44 students working approximately 20 hours a week and 60% participating in a form of an organized student activity, it’s easy to say that students at SFSU have busy schedules. The survey revealed that work, extracurricular activities, and going out have negatively impacted schoolwork.” (Abdon, A. 2010). The result shows that many of us do have a life and have other things to do beside homework. With homework on our mind and having to work at the same time is very stressful. And time flies by when doing other things. With the busy schedule we have, homework will be the last thing on our minds, and the last thing we will do. Like me, I work part time and go to school full time. Jogging school and work is really hard, but that is life. I work nights and have school in the morning. I would get off work around 10 to11 o’ clock at night. By the time I start on homework it will be 12 in the morning already. There are many times when I do feel like re-using a paper or even asking someone do my homework for me. Since I know the consequences, I didn’t there to. It is really tempting during those times to actually plagiarize. Students don’t plagiarize on purpose though there are some that do but for those we don’t intend to do so is because either they don’t know much about plagiarism or because of the time limit they have plagiarizing is the easiest thing to do at the moment.
San Francisco state should have strict enforcement of telling students what plagiarism is. Students know what the different type of plagiarism is the more unlikely they will not plagiarize. Even if they do their SFSU should have different kinds of punishment to punish students rather just kicking students out of school. Enforcing the definition of plagiarism and not just the punishment students will have plagiarism in mind and would maybe think about it before actually plagiarizing. These are just my ideas that maybe can help the school and the students from plagiarizing or just lessen it. Thank you for your time and hope it was helpful!

S. Chang

Work Cite
Blum, S. (2009). My Word! Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Chang, S. Keil, T. Maldonado,R. Truong,N.Wilson,T. (2010) To Plagiarize or not to Plagiarize,That is the Motivation. English 114.04,Spring 2010, San Francisco State University.

Abdon, A., Miraflor, C., Del Valle Nieva, A., Erfe, R., Yuen, V., Rodriguez, A. (2010) Extracurricular Culture. English 114.04, Spring 2010, San Francisco State University

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