In a school open house recently the principal of the High School said something intriguing; this year they were not going to pound into the students heads that cheating is wrong, plagiarism is wrong, and they are not going to remind students if you are caught or and you will be punished even if you try to cheat or accidentally cheat. Instead she stated this negative approach was ineffective and degrading to the students in her school and this year another approach was going to be implemented. Cheaters BEWARE signs were replaced with a new look. Academic Integrity is going to be expected! The students signed an Honor Code that included the following:
Academic Integrity is following the Honor Code without being supervised or warned
Taking responsibility for learning by completing any and all assignments individually
Completing any and all assignments according to the expectations of each individual teacher
Ensuring honesty, transparency and accountability in all your student activities.
This attitude is encouraging students to do right instead of penalizing student when they do the wrong thing. It encourages the students to take responsibility for their learning experience. Teachers in the classroom were skeptical at first, but when I asked them about the students’ attitudes toward plagiarism and copying they offered that they do a lot more collaborative work in their classrooms, and students working together apply peer pressure to prevent plagiarism. Granted my daughters are in AP courses and are with teachers and peers that look at learning as a stepping stone to higher education, but overall the student population is succeeding in a positive approach toward cheating isn't what a successful student does.
Its interesting when I look at the Web as a conduit of information waiting to be picked and placed into whatever project I am working on. There is so much information out on the Internet, coming up with original ideas is harrowing. But when I have a great idea, and I Google it, and I see that many other brilliant minds have the same great idea I realize my thoughts were validated. I want the world to know I thought of that too, and I want the citation, copyright, acknowledgement to be part of my work to validate my thoughts. By integrating technology into our research I believe it is important to acknowledge another’s work, and it should be heralded as WOW we agree.
I am pleased by the direction this principal is taking. I believe the students will look back someday when they are tempted by the easy road of plagiarism and will stop and think about the honor code, instead of wondering if they will get caught if they take the low road. Respect and Trust are integral and will make America great.