When I think of the moral, ethical and legal issues we are facing the 8th, combined with the 4th and 7th, commandment of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics written by Arlene Rinaldi are the ones that I reinforce almost daily.
- Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
- Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work.
- Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s files.
- Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
- Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
- Thou shalt not use or copy software for which you have not paid.
- Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization.
- Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
- Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you write.
- Thou shalt use a computer in ways that show consideration and respect.
Being an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher and being a non-native English speaker, I can see how easy it is to fall into the trap of plagiarism. Texas A&M defines plagiarism as “the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit”. Other people’s words often appear in our students’ work. Being a non-native English speaker, I know that many times plagiarism is not caused by bad intention. Not being a fluent speaker, forces students to “borrow” other people’s words since they feel they cannot say the same idea any better. According to Bruce Dancik and Donald Samulack, the “unintentional plagiarism is a necessity” that helps non-native English speakers express themselves.
As my classmate, Laurie Ellis mentioned in her content catalyst, educators play a vital role in teaching students to be ethical and responsible learners. Christopher McGilvery in the article called Promoting Responsible and Ethical Digital Citizens highlights the importance of always giving credit to the original source in order to avoid plagiarism. But in order for our students to know the severity of plagiarism we need to provide them with tools to be able to acquire “writing with integrity” (Candace Schaefer – University of Texas). Candace Schaefer describes three forms of responses, such as citing, paraphrasing, summarizing with paraphrasing being viewed as the most dangerous form of writing.
I do agree with McGilvery and Shaefer regarding the importance of teaching our students the various steps of becoming a responsible and ethical learner and writer. I tried to summarize the major steps:
- Start early and come up with a detailed plan
- Take accurate notes when researching a topic and cite correctly
- Understand your topic and add value to it by sharing own ideas
- Practice retelling the content by using your own words
- Use quotations to give credit
- Give credit when paraphrasing as well
- Use a plagiarism checker to avoid making this ethical, moral and legal mistake
- Include reference page
- Ask your teacher/professor for advice and guidance
As an EAL teacher, I also think we often misjudge our students’ level of language proficiency and just because someone “sounds” fluent we assume their academic language is at a high level as well. Sometimes the very high expectations do force students to fall into the trap of plagiarizing to prove themselves to our society.
Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/146269537@N07/46671000735/”>Paris Malone</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
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