The topic that seemed most interesting in the past few days on the WPA is that of plagiarizing oneself. Someone initially raised the question of whether it was common for universities to have specific policies regarding the "recycling" of student papers from one class to another. This particular poster's institution only defined plagiarism as taking someone else's work.
This post seemed interesting to me because it seems like a common practice for students to recycle papers whenever possible in both high school and college. There's been many a time I've had a conversation with a friend and been told that he/she has a paper due for so and so class but has a perfect paper already written that fits the criteria. What's interesting is that it seems colleges are much more concerned with students Surprisingly, the responses weren't all for condemning the practice, as long as some type of learning was taking place.
The main argument from naysayers was that the practice of recycling papers undermines learning; a student can simply tweak the title and a few choice sentences to craft a new argument and pass the paper off as brand new. On the other hand, an argument is made that a student still learn from this process by being able to recognize the areas that requires editing and learn to craft language to fit specific arguments.
In the realm of the composition class, I personally believe this practice only serves to enforce the idea that college students lack the fundamental writing skills necessary to be successful throughout their careers as students. There's a large number of students who haven't the slightest clue how to craft a coherent paper, and I say if they write one good one let them try and pass it in as many times as they can.
2/13/2014 08:15:07 pm
I have a number of colleagues (and you have at least one classmate that I know of) who has had this issue come up. And a lot of my colleagues feel like this is a form of cheating. I don't see it that way: it is the student's work. If this was the business world--or even the grant-writing world or other writing venues--if copy can be used from one place in another, more's the better. It's about efficiency. But, that's the thing: your college education shouldn't be like a business. Students should be learning things not just showing that they are learning things. And so, in this scenario, what is a student learning? I think part of what they are learning is how to cut corners. But, sometimes, they might be learning something about revision. If you get feedback on a paper and then revise it and turn it in in another class, than you've learned something. Most students never revise. Also, there is a point to be made about the assignment. If you require multiple drafts. If you require a portfolio, it's very hard or at least a pain in the ass to try to pass in an old paper for a different class. There is an episode of the TV show Felicity that I'm just dying to write about here, but I'm going to hold off. You guys have probably never seen the show.
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This blog is a reactionary overview of the daily posts to the Writing Program Administrator's listserv. One day; one blogger; lots of reactions.