Author Topic: Assignment due 8am, sent to friend to be color copied at 10:15pm. Plagiarism?  (Read 4748 times)

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RegionMom

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I received a note from my junior son's science teacher, stating that because he sent a lab report to be color copied to a friend, since we do not have a color copier, that is considered plagiarism.

The lab was basically determining what made some things glow vs. sparkle.  The teacher allowed a few students to take photos, and the students then begged friends on-line for copies of said photos to be delivered so they could be added to the lab report.

DS spent a fair bit of time answering questions, some on a FaceBook page, helping others who were struggling. 

The assignment was due 12 noon Friday. Since DS has zero study halls, he had to have it printed by school start at 8am. 

He asked, via FaceBook, if anyone could print it out for him.  He sent it at 10:15pm the night before. 

A student on the page asked him why he did not just draw the petri dish lab results, and DS responded, "I am a perfectionist and do not have time nor drawing skills!"

DS does not believe the girl changed her report after receiving his, but she did receive a grade of zero.  DS got a 50%, since his teachers know he meant no wrong-doing, plus he has a 99% in the class. 

(Except in her e-mail, the teacher reported he had a 90, and now an 89, since his grade was docked 5%)  So I need to confirm his progress report, just given out last week.

Here is the policy that took a bit of work and digging to find:

Scientific Integrity: Plagiarism is the act of incorporating anotherís ideals or expression in your written work without proper reference, thus misrepresenting someone elseís work as your own.  Carefully document the sources for your work.  Plagiarism represents a lack of scientific integrity, and will not be tolerated. Sharing electronic files containing work that will be submitted for a grade is considered plagiarism and students involved will be treated under the plagiarism rules. 

Also, in the lit department, the students have been told several times, "a broken printer is not an excuse.  have a friend print it out."

Yes, in lit they are to do electronic AND hard-copy submissions. 

I asked DS if he could have sent a file to the teacher, instead.  "No, she only will take hard copies."

We realized that what he should have done was to have a friend print out ONLY the two pages of photos, and he could attach them to his lab report after meeting her before school. 

Or, yes, he could have sent it to a copy store, but that would take travel time and money, and he knows our house shuts down at 10pm.

So, I guess we should be happy that he was only docked 5% off his overall grade. 

And I told him that in college, he would not have such good character witnesses in his teachers.

So, lesson learned.

Any advice from here on out?

Should we talk to the teacher, and explain that with kids sending required photos electronically, and with lit teachers saying hard copies can be sent to friends for delivery if a bad printer, that logically this seemed ok?

Plus, we need to confirm his actual grade. 

Thanks!
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Yvaine

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It sounds like the science department's rules state a no-tolerance policy for sharing files. It doesn't matter that they didn't actually use each other's information; they broke the rule and the policy says this will be treated under plagiarism rules. It seems unfair to me that the girl was docked so much more severely than your son, as they both broke the rule.

The literature department may well have a different policy, which would have applied if they'd been in lit class.

WillyNilly

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Well the policy is pretty clear, and he violated it.  And were the photos "required" or could he have drawn the diagrams and simply chose not to?  Also is there are reason it was so last minute (10:15 the night before/your home "shuts down at 10")?

Carotte

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Wait, is he being docked because there was photo sharing (then all the students using them would be docked) or because he asked someone to print something?
If it's the later I find it soooo wrong, no way to go above and contest? - because yeah, he broke the rule, a stupid one that should be rewritten.
I would be raising hell if I was the girls parents.
For me that's the equivalent of being accused of plagiarism if my friend ask me to staple his report because I'm the one who has the stapler.
You don't even have to open a doc to print it.

How did the teacher find out anyway, is she snooping on the kids facebook pages?

Yvaine

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And were the photos "required" or could he have drawn the diagrams and simply chose not to? 

This is another really good question. Would the assignment have been accepted with drawings, or with B&W copies of the photos? Color photos seem a cosmetic touch and not worth the risk he took.

I drew all sorts of things in school and have never had any drawing talent. I'm sure none of my geometry diagrams will end up on the walls of the Louvre.

Carotte

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Wait, is he being docked because there was photo sharing (then all the students using them would be docked) or because he asked someone to print something?
If it's the later I find it soooo wrong, no way to go above and contest? - because yeah, he broke the rule, a stupid one that should be rewritten.
I would be raising hell if I was the girls parents.
For me that's the equivalent of being accused of plagiarism if my friend ask me to staple his report because I'm the one who has the stapler.
You don't even have to open a doc to print it.

How did the teacher find out anyway, is she snooping on the kids facebook pages?

ETA: This makes my head hurt, if it was called cheating it could be understandable (girl open your DS work, copy the answers but word it as her own, print both reports = cheating) but did the teacher said there was any evidence of plagiarism? (not the results, they're suposed to be the same after all - but the wording and all). I would just go above and not even bother with the teacher.

fountainsoflettuce

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So what's the etiquette question? Following the rules is not rude.

Zilla

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I am trying to figure it all out. 
There is a rule that doesn't allow students to email any impending school projects/work/homework to another student for any reason.  Your son did the work at the last minute and realize he had no way of printing his own work and asked another student to print it for him.  Teacher found out and docked your son only 5% but failed his friend outright for printing your son's work. 

If that is right, omigosh I feel so sorry for that poor friend that failed trying to do your son a favor and your son just gets a slap on the wrist?  And he is the one that emailed her in the first place.  Or am I wrong?

meegs

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I'm sorry, but am I reading this correctly?  Did your son only lose 50% of his mark while his classmate who was nice enough to help him (when he appears to have left this to the last minute even tho he knew that he doesn't have access to a colour printer) lost all her mark?  That seems incredibly unfair.  If I were her I would be making a strongly worded complaint.  They both should have lost full marks. 

bonyk

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I'm sorry, but am I reading this correctly?  Did your son only lose 50% of his mark while his classmate who was nice enough to help him (when he appears to have left this to the last minute even tho he knew that he doesn't have access to a colour printer) lost all her mark?  That seems incredibly unfair.  If I were her I would be making a strongly worded complaint.  They both should have lost full marks. 

Agree here.  That poor girl helped him out, and ended up losing full credit, and your son only lost half because his teacher knew he didn't mean it?  That's terrible.

ccnumber4

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Exactly.  If previous posters are correct and this girl lost ALL of her points because she was helping your son who waited til the last minute to finish his project, she is the one you should be going to bat for, not him.

Also, if the lab report wasn't due until noon the next day, why didn't you just take him to a copy store in the morning before school? 

ETA: your title said it was due at 8am, but your post quotes 12noon.  Which is it?

Slartibartfast

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I'm assuming the fact that the girl lost her whole grade means she used your son's paper to plagiarize for her own (either in whole or in part).  If all she did was receive his work, she shouldn't be penalized!

cross_patch

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It does seem unfair, but perhaps I am confused. Was your son aware that by asking his classmate to print the assignment that he was violating the rules? Because it seems overly harsh that she would be penalised so much when he effectively instigated it. I can't quite get at the logic of it.

Tabby Uprising

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As far as etiquette goes, I think you are okay clarifying things with the teacher as long as the conversation is civil and polite.  But, what do you really have to discuss?  Is this a new rule? A rule that was recently changed?  The lit classes state you may "borrow a friend's printer" but they don't actually say you can email your work to the friend and have them print it out.  It's a subtle distinction, but a distinction nonetheless.

As for the science project, how much time did your son have to complete the project?  Was he aware of the due date in advance?  He told his friends he could not draw so he must have known in advance he would want to print out photos.  Why did he prioritize spending time on Facebook helping others when his own work was not complete?

If you choose to discuss things with the teacher, you can reiterate that your son mismanaged his time and disregarded the science departments rule about plagiarism and it will not happen again, etc.  I doubt the teacher should have any issue confirming how this impacts his grade.

But, as always, be polite and you should be fine!  :)

Dalek

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It sounds like his classmate learned that no good deed goes unpunished. While I think the punishment was harsh, I think it was unfair for the girl to be penalized more.
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