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Teaching Paraphrasing & Plagiarism

Once a semester I do an “information ethics” workshop for one of our information literacy classes. This is a one-shot and the learning outcomes are very flexible. Basically, I can do whatever I want. I usually use this as an opportunity to try something new (hence, the information literacy board game that I created a couple of years ago). I decided to change it up this year and focus on aspects of plagiarism that commonly confuse students. This confusion leads to unintentional plagiarism, which is just as prevalent and complained about as the deceitful kind.

But what can I do in a one-shot session? One thing that I did was a short activity about paraphrasing. I had students watch a One Minute Tips video about The Information Cycle or Scholarly vs. Popular Resources. I showed each video twice, and students chose which one they would write about. The first time they watched the video, I told them to just watch and not write anything. The 2nd time, they could jot down a few quick notes. Then they had to paraphrase the information that they retained from the video. They wrote their short summaries down, and then traded papers with a peer. We then did the trendy peer-review thing, and they graded each others work according to a rubric that I provided for them and discussed them with their partner. The whole activity took about 10-15 minutes. It allowed them to see how easy it is to unintentionally repeat things word for word, and how important it is to read (or in this case, view) things a few times to be able to  understand and adequately write about it, as well as that they have to cite no matter what.

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