Plagiarism on the final exam

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joeroberts:
OK....i really thought this would be impossible.

I usually give students final exams where they get 12-15 short answer questions on the last day of class (on the most important concepts in the course), then on exam day, they get an exam that has 10 or so of those questions and of those they have to answer 8. I like this format because it a) rewards students that put the time in to prepare responses to all the questions and b) creates a strong incentive structure to actually learn the material

The course is a 3rd year survey research methods course.  I didn't do a great job teaching it; there was a mini-rebellion earlier in the course and I anticipate low teaching evaluations. 

Before the final exam, I never really gave a plagiarism lecture or laid down the law about plagiarism, telling the students *not* to copy material from the text or the web word for word in their answers.  I think the reason that I didn't do that is because I truly thought it would be impossible or too much effort for students to go about memorizing material from the web and then actually copying it word-for-word in an exam.  To me that just seemed like a colossal waste of time. 

I'm in the third exam and I've come across a student's answer that totally rips off this definition: http://penta.ufrgs.br/edu/telelab/3/recency_.htm


What do I do?

The exams are all handwritten, so turnitin is not an option. I'm worried that this is going to be more of an issue going forward in the rest of the exams. 

Am I going to have to forswear this type of exam because students are willing to dedicate herculean mental energy to memorize and regurgitate passages from the web word for word rather than comprehend and then explain the material themselves?

joeroberts:
Caveat: the question was as follows:

Quote

What is the recency effect? What is the best way to deal with it? In which type of survey is it most likely to be an issue

The plagiarized passages are as follows

Quote

The recency effect is found when the results of a free recall task are plotted in the form of a serial position curve. Generally, this curve is U-shaped, and the recency effect corresponds to the tail of the U on the right. This tail indicates that words presented at the end of a list of to-be-remembered items are better remembered than words presented in the middle of this list. It is called the recency effect because these items were the ones presented most recently to the subject in the memory experiment.

The recency effect appears to be the result of subjects recalling items directly from the maintenance rehearsal loop used to keep items in primary memory. In other words, it reflects short-term memory for items. This is because the recency effect can be sharply attenuated by performing manipulations that adversely affect such rehearsal -- such as delaying recall of list items with a distractor task, or by using list items that have similar sounds.

The recency effect was important to cognitive science because it provided empirical evidence for the decomposition of memory into an organized set of subsystems, which is required by functional analysis.

My partner is a little more forgiving, given that it's a definition.  I don't know, but I'm looking for advice.

sugaree:
I'm not sure this actually constitutes plagiarism, does it? They memorized something and reproduced it later, but do you require citations in your handwritten exams otherwise, OP?

That said, when I encounter things like this in an exam (where the student has obviously just memorized a definition without showing any understanding of it), I usually give half-credit and point out that while the definition might validly apply to the question, it is clear that the student doesn't understand what the term/question means. None have ever complained when they got back exams where I point this out (and if they did, I would question them further about the term and if they could demonstrate a better understanding than what they had previously memorized, I would be open to giving additional points. No one ever has come to talk to me about such a thing in the past 15 years I've done this).

joeroberts:
No, I don't require citations, but I've never really addressed this issue sugaree.
Thanks for your advice. 

dr_alcott:
Quote from: joeroberts on April 19, 2013,  2:46:17 PM

What do I do?


Stick to the plagiarism policy in your syllabus. Hopefully that allows you to fail the exam.

Quote

The exams are all handwritten, so turnitin is not an option. I'm worried that this is going to be more of an issue going forward in the rest of the exams. 


Turnitin is an option if you type the exam yourself and submit it that way.

Quote

Am I going to have to forswear this type of exam because students are willing to dedicate herculean mental energy to memorize and regurgitate passages from the web word for word rather than comprehend and then explain the material themselves?


I wouldn't draw this conclusion, any more than I would conclude that I should stop assigning essays because some students will plagiarize.

Good luck, Joe.

On preview, yes, Sugaree, it's plagiarism. The student uses words that aren't his or her own without attribution.

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