I gave my students an opportunity to rewrite one of their papers for extra points. As I was grading, I realized that two papers were almost identical. They had a similar structure, organization, and presented ideas in a similar manner. I asked the students about plagiarism but they denied it. Since it was a rewrite, I told them that I wouldn't add any points to their grades and they should never do this again.
One of the students, however, emailed me stating that she is worried their final assignments might look similar as well. She was trying to convince me that her paper is her original work and the second student "worked really hard to make sure their papers don't look alike!".
She included screen shots of their fb conversation as evidence. In FB conversation the one with the original work is telling her friend to use her paper as a basis but change the sentences and examples so it won't look like plagiarism.
This is a clear case of plagiarism. Correct? I am not sure how to handle it. I know they are not realizing that's plagiarism, otherwise they wouldn't have shared those fb conversations. So I don't want to report to the school (yet!). But I am also not sure how to penalize them? Give a zero for the assignment? What do you recommend? Should I give zeros to both of them?
( 5 months ago )
This isn't just plagarism - it's out and out cheating - and both students are guilty and one of them has kindly produced proof of their guilt. I would escalate to whatever process is usually undertaken for cheating students.
That they apparently have failed to grasp the concept doesn't make them any less guilty of the infringement and it simply doesn't matter whether they "meant to cheat" - they did.
The appropriate way to deal with cheating students is to escalate it to the system for dealing with cheating students. You should trust that this process will take their ignorance into account while (a) being fair to other students and (b) expressing the appropriate level of opprobrium for their actions.