Writing Assignments :: Just Ask the Students

I love the philosophy of this Professor, Laurence Musgrove from Saint Xavier University in Chicago.

Jobs, News and Views for All of Higher Education – Inside Higher Ed :: Just Ask the Students
“But I would also say that it’s important for us to understand that we get the students we get, and they come with a wide range of skills and attitudes and experiences in writing. It’s our job to help them continue to develop as writers and provide the right kinds of assignments and assessments that help them on that path.”

The rest of this article goes on to discuss the views of students on their rights in regards to writing assignments. He argues that thoughtful assignment creation helps students to be more successful writers. This ties in with my post from last week regarding plagiarism. A writing or research assignment that requires students to follow well defined steps, gives ample time and guidance for revision, and includes an assessment rubric goes a long way towards creating good writers. I’ve seen some very good examples of this when I’ve worked with students in our Composition Classes. I would add in that including the librarian in planning the research portion of the assignment and having the librarian co-teach the sessions when you talk about research is another great strategy.

Members of our campus community who would like more information or to schedule a consultation should contact our Instruction Coordinator, Courtney Bruch, at 549-2363.


Preventing Plagiarism

No matter how hard a professor tries to prevent plagiarism, some enterprising students will find a way to cheat.

I would offer our faculty the following rules of thumb:

1. Structure the assignment so that the grade is based on demonstrating understanding of how the final product or correct answer was achieved rather than just the final product or correct answer itself.

2. Especially in the case of written assignments, require multiple drafts and bibliographies to track the student progress in preparation of turning in the final project.

3. Ask a librarian to come in and talk to your class on the ethics of information managment and copyright law.
4. Finally, if you suspect plagiarism, search google for unique phrases to see if the text has been copied from an online site. Contact the library reference desk for assistance with this process.

Clipped from: The Kept-Up Academic Librarian: Preventing Plagiarism Requires Extra Effort
September 26, 2006
Preventing Plagiarism Requires Extra Effort

Preventing plagiarism takes hard work. Cheat-proofing her classroom pushes this biology teacher’s workweek up to 80 hours some weeks. She scoured the Internet before realizing she needed to switch a lab experiment on fruit flies because the genetic codes were online. Her assignments show just how far teachers are going to fight an unprecedented boom in cheating that has been driven by the Internet and other technology. Read more at:

Posted by steven bell on September 26, 2006