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As demoralizing as plagiarism is, you ought not take the burden on yourself. Students cheat for a variety of reasons, not the least that they don't believe themselves capable of performing the assigned work. For the first instance, I simply give a zero, have a conference with the student and show them how they can complete the assignment honestly. Sometimes that's all that's needed. Other times, you have obtuse students (like the two--girlfriend and boyfriend--who turned the same paper into me for the same assignment in the same class.)

Also, a hint on using Google when you suspect plagiarism. Don't work with first sentences. Look for phrases and clauses of sophisticated language or unique phrasings. I've never taken more than 5 minutes to find a source, but I've got the advantage of having read a few hundred thousand student papers over the years. : )


glad to see you're back.
which women's college did YOU go to? just curious- i went to mills.


John- Thanks for the tip. This is only the second time I felt like I had to search around to find the actual source for the paper. Next time I will definitely follow your advice. As for your boyfriend and girlfriend, I have two cousins in World Lit that do the same thing, and although I've give both of them zeros on three separate assignments, they continue to do it.

Nicole- Thanks. Glad to be back actually. I went to Randolph-Macon Woman's College my freshling year, and then I went to Agnes Scott for the rest of my time. Funny you went to Mills. I think ASC had a transfer program with them that I looked into once.


I'll bear all these tips in mind. :)


don't take it personally. and kudos for going through all of the trouble.


I'd add to the wise comments one other note: why not recall again the feelings of your disempowered friend back in college, and sit this girl down to ask what's wrong that she feels she has to do this?
I'm not saying pander to her cheating, but simply ask why. Sometimes you can trigger a surprisingly frank response that obviates the need for several weeks worth of poor teacher-student relationships.

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