"It doesn’t stop them if you say, ‘This is plagiarism. I won’t accept it.’" #wymhm

The Pritchard axiom — that repetitive cheating undermines learning — has ominous implications for a world in which even junior high school students cut and paste from the Internet instead of producing their own writing.

If we look closely at plagiarism as practiced by youngsters, we can see that they have a different relationship to the printed word than did the generations before them. When many young people think of writing, they don’t think of fashioning original sentences into a sustained thought. They think of making something like a collage of found passages and ideas from the Internet.

They become like rap musicians who construct what they describe as new works by “sampling” (which is to say, cutting and pasting) beats and refrains from the works of others.

This comparison to rap musicians doesn't read right to me. The demands of sampling require a certain knowledge and awareness. To extend the idea that students aren't learning when they cheat to how many successful rap artists make a living reveals a lack of understanding. Such a view is overly simplistic and the definition of "learning" might be too narrow.

In my first-year and advanced composition courses, I have an assignment, "Mashup Scholarship," that asks students to put together a minimum of five sources using none of their own words. They have to use the transitions provided in the sources they've chosen. They read Lethem's "The ecstasy of influence" and watch Youtube videos for modeling purposes. They come up with alternative citation methods, from color-coding to ISBN to something else that only makes sense to them. In reflective writing about this assignment, students often name "Mashup Scholarship" among the hardest composing they've completed.