It’s amazing how stupid students think we are. Like we were never undergrads. Like we’ve never heard that excuse before. Yep, we were born yesterday.
It’s frustrating, but amusing.
Take the students who turned in the exact same paper for an assignment. Student A claimed surprise that her paper would be on the internet. She actually seemed to imply that *I* had uploaded it to a paper mill site. Student B admitted her sister had helped her with the paper, but also claimed shock and surprise it was available on the internet. Both claimed coincidence that another student would have the same paper. (Now, a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters might eventually create Shakespeare, but the chances of two students creating the exact same paper for the exact same class at the exact same time—and that said paper just happens to be the third link on a Google search for “Othello”—well, those odds are astounding.) Both were seriously upset to receive a big fat zero on the assignment.
I once presented a student with a paper also easily found via Google. She didn’t deny it. Instead she claimed that since she had purchased the paper for $50, it was now really hers. Not only was she out $50 with a goose egg to show for it in the grade book, she wasn't happy when I told her that even if I hadn't found the paper mill she bought it from, the best she could have hoped for for her $50 would have been a C. She didn't even buy a good paper.
The funny thing about students who plagiarize is that they don’t do it very well. Let’s see, if you can find it easily on the internet, what makes you think I won’t find it with a simple search? I’ve had students cut and paste into papers and forget to remove the hyperlinks from the copied text. (Underlined text in an essay is always a giveaway.) Back in the day, it was relatively easy to copy and not get caught—you just went to the dustiest part of the library stacks and pulled an obscure text to copy from. (Not that I ever did that, of course.) But students seem to think they are being clever by typing “Othello” into a search engine and choosing a link.
Let’s see. Then there was the student who dropped my class shortly after receiving her second not-stellar grade on an assignment. She sent me a lovely email, telling me how much she adored me and my class, but she had to drop because her father had been suddenly transferred to New Jersey, effective immediately. She was asking that I give her a WP (Withdrawal Passing) instead of a WF (Withdrawal Failing). WP doesn’t affect GPA; WF counts as an F. She was sure that if only she weren’t moving in the next couple of days, she’d be able to pull the grade up. So sorry. I guess she didn’t realize that I would get a copy of the drop slip. Interestingly, only one out of four classes had been dropped. Seemed she could still take her other classes from New Jersey. She was upset to find out she wouldn’t be getting the WP. She came by my office to tell me so two weeks later.
Umm, thought you were in New Jersey, honey.
I’m an evil, mean teacher. I don’t accept late work or give make up tests unless you have a really good excuse and the paperwork to back it up. Death, car accidents, ER visits, arrests*—all of the good excuses come with paperwork. Bring me a copy and we’ll talk. Of course, then there was the student who brought me a note from her mother…. Seriously—a college student with a note from her mom.
*Yes, I did have a student bring me a copy of his arrest report as his excuse for turning in a late paper. I didn’t feel that his stupidity (he spent the night in jail for public intoxication and urination) should actually give him a free pass on the late assignment. See, I’m evil. He had the paperwork, but still got no sympathy for the situation.
I am also jaded. I come across as uncaring when I ask for an obituary or funeral program, but do you know how dangerous a time midterms is for grandmothers? It’s downright dangerous to be a grandmother of a college student—it cuts your life expectancy drastically.
I don’t claim to be foolproof. I’m sure there are students out there gloating because they pulled one over on me—a paper I didn’t realize was plagiarized; a sob story I bought. But I have caught a lot, and my BS detector is getting pretty accurate.
Since your school days are behind you, ‘fess up. Did you ever manage to get one by your teacher? What was the stupidest excuse you tried (and failed) to get him/her to buy?PC