On this episode of the IU Press podcast, Martin Krieger discusses his new book The Scholar's Survival Manual. Drawn from years of experience in the academic world, Krieger advises students, professors, and administrators on which paths lead to a successful career in higher education and which ones end in "academic roadkill."
In The Scholar’s Survival Manual I discuss plagiarism with a presumption that there is a shared sense of just what is plagiarism. Recent experience convinces me that my imagination is not reliable. I thought I could detect plagiarism by reading a paper, and surely I have found it once in a while. But that was a vanity.
Last semester I taught two doctoral courses, and after the grades were in I received several complaints about grades from the students. In the course of our conversations, one said something to me like “I’m no plagiarist.” I figured I had better be sure. So I put the class papers through Turnitin. And wrote to students about what I found. (I was then told to stop bothering students about it, since the class was over, but to my mind they were putting their future degrees at risk.)
The “similarity scores” tell you little. You have to look at the papers and the sources. What I discovered was that mosaic plagiarism was endemic. Namely, student would take a source, refer to it in their footnotes, and then take phrases from the source and put their own words as linkages to those phrases—but not put quotation marks around the phrases they had copied. They might have said, “X revealed…”, but to my mind that the “…” indicated these were quoted phrases was not revealed by the word revealed. There needed to be quotation marks around the copied phrases.
Some papers had similarity scores of 40+%, but those at 5% were as well systematic mosaic plagiarizers. I gather they thought this was OK, and one told me that this was the norm in their field of public health.
I even checked a few doctoral dissertations, including staff associated with these students, and the practice was everywhere. And it did not happen once in a while. It was systematic.
I don’t know what to do about the grades I gave, and I am now checking out other sources for guidance. I know that my university does not condone such plagiarism, the Harvard College guidance on Using Sources does not either.
Publishing an article or depositing a dissertation should mean that you never have to say you are sorry. But your article or dissertation may well be read by someone in your field (who else will read it?), and they may be haunted by the phrasing (perhaps it’s their words!). They can readily put your work through Turnitin. It’s perhaps unlikely that some mosaic plagiarism will lead to your degree being rescinded, but you don’t really want to find out.
Martin H. Krieger is Professor of Planning in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has taught at Berkeley, Minnesota, MIT, and Michigan and has served for many years on university promotion and tenure committees. His upcoming book The Scholar's Survival Manual will be released this October. He blogs at scholarssurvival.blogspot.com.
john a. powell, author of Racing to Justice, will be a panelist in a roundtable discussion presented by Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD). "Public Education and the Future of Affirmative Action" takes place October 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the college's downtown campus in Detroit, MI. powell will be available to sign copies of his book following the discussion.
The event is sponsored by WCCCD’s Global Conversations Initiative and Institute for Social Progress. RSVP by calling 313-496-2510.
Indiana University Press will publish Teaching and Learning Inquiry, the official publication of the International Society of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL). Published twice a year beginning in March 2013, it will include insightful research, theory, commentary, and other scholarly works that document or facilitate investigations of teaching and learning in higher education. TLI values quality and variety in its vision of the scholarship of teaching and learning.
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a growing movement in post-secondary education. SoTL is scholarly inquiry into student learning that advances the practice of teaching by making research findings public. ISSOTL has cultivated a strong international and interdisciplinary community, primarily through the quality of its annual conferences.
TLI’s Editorial Board features representation from ISSOTL's international regions (US, Canada, Australasia, and Europe), the entire career spectrum (from student to retiree, and all between), a breadth of disciplines and professions, a variety of institutional types, and women and men. TLI promises to offer the best and most groundbreaking work on and in the scholarship of teaching and learning.
TLI will strive to push boundaries and expand the field by introducing a wider range of genres and perspectives. TLI editor Nancy Chick says, “We plan to do this without compromising well-established criteria that would be expected across the disciplines. We will be creative, thoughtful, artistic, and scientific. This sounds ambitious, but it is just what SoTL needs within the covers of one leading journal.”
In addition, TLI invites nontraditional genres of SoTL publication. Along with essays, projects will also be represented in poems, dialogues, and other creative products.
The journal will regularly feature articles documenting SoTL projects, theoretical assertions, literature syntheses, or reports on the field; dialogues responding to previous issues; innovative but systematic reflections through creative products; and reviews of books, external articles, web resources, or conferences.
Reviewed by marketing services coordinator, Mollie Ables
Conversations with Great Teachers is a collection of 51 interviews with different educators and mentors. The subjects and individuals taught by these teachers are incredibly diverse though, as Bill Smoot explains, one of the main objectives of the book is to tease out universals in education. All of the teachers interviewed make up a third of what Smoot calls the “Education Triad,” which is composed of a teacher, a student, and that which passes between them. The interviewees all seem to have similar attitudes toward this triad, which comprises their profession, their students, and the subject that they teach. Great teachers share the attitude that theirs is not a “job,” but rather a calling. They also share humility in knowing that they serve a larger purpose than themselves. This is related to the passion they have for their subject, which they realize is far more important than their own ego or accomplishments.
How the information is passed between student and teacher varies drastically, though great teachers seem to recognize their students as individuals, and understand the different ways in which different students learn. No matter what the subject, as Smoot explains, “every act of learning involves a change in the learner.” Whether the student is acquiring a piece of information or a skill set, they must allow themselves to be taught and, by extension, change.
Often, teachers are not so much imparting information as teaching ways of thinking, habits, and modes of awareness. This requires a certain amount of trust between teachers and students, as well as what Smoot calls a teacher’s “authentic presence.” Smoot explains that “teaching is never reducible to technique,” and that great teachers must be faithful to their own style and principles, rather than what may be pedagogically trendy. This relates to the teachers’ belief in the larger purpose of teaching, which is, arguably, to elevate our level of humanity. Smoot poses: “We ask what makes us human: That we grow our food? Build our shelter? Make art? Wage war? Practice religion? Whatever it is, it gets taught.”
The interviews are divided into sections, some with more concrete distinctions like venue (“Teaching in the School Room,” “Teaching in the College Classroom), or content of curriculum (“Teaching the Athletes,” “Teaching the Healers,” “Teaching the Fixers and Makers”), but also more abstract notions of contributions to society. (“Teaching at the Bottom and on the Edge,” “Growing Body and Spirit”). The teachers interviewed include an elementary school teacher and college professors, but also coaches, a drill instructor, yoga and zen teachers, an exotic dance instructor, an internationally-renowned pastry chef, and MANY others demonstrating just how broadly certain pedagogical principles can apply.
One conversation that immediately captured my attention was in the “Teaching the Athletes” section. Smoot interviews Mike Hileman, an alligator wrestler trainer at Gatorland in Orlando. Hileman has trained alligator wrestlers for the park’s shows for over 16 years. Alligator wrestling may be an unconventional subject, but the parallels with more conventional classroom teaching were immediately apparent. Like all great teachers, Hileman has tremendous passion for the subject he teaches. He has a comprehensive knowledge of his subject, but still recognizes that, even after 16 years, he can still be surprised. (Granted, these “surprises” can be more terrifying with alligators than, say, English Romantic verse.) His relationships with his students are similar to those of most great teachers; he is able to identify their strengths, recognize their potential, and understands that all students learn in different ways and at different paces. Also like other great teachers, Hileman demands that his students have a healthy respect for the subject (and the alligator). At the same time, he makes the subject accessible to allow his students to combat their (quite reasonable) fears.
There are potential hazards constantly looming in every profession. In alligator wrestling, the obvious hazard is a painful or lethal bite. Hileman explains, “One of the first things I tell [my students] is that if you’re going to handle animals—it doesn’t matter if it’s a dog or a cat—the law of averages is going to catch up with you and you will get bit eventually. It might take two months or it might take six years, but if enough time passes, you will make a mistake because we’re human.” Words of wisdom that anyone can apply to their own field.
Conversations with Great Teachers is a book that can be rifled through for inspiration or satisfying a curiosity. It’s definitely useful whether or not you’re a teacher, as it is often more about sharing information and connecting with people than strictly teaching. These connections are important, as everyone has their own alligators to wrestle in life.
"The power of the book is in the details. Wells writes articulate and understandable prose and is comprehensive in giving background to problems and opportunities, always giving credit to those who assisted him in taking necessary measures to get solutions. His volume of work is apparent as he writes of committee meetings, offices he was asked to lead, accounts of travels around Indiana, all through the nation and much of the world. His intelligence, persuasive influence and good humor were used to get things done and to garner resources that built IU into one of the world’s most respected teaching institutions." Continue reading review
"Capshew’s scholarly writing gives an interesting and comprehensive account of Wells and his impact on not just Indiana’s extraordinary university, but reaching far beyond the borders of the state." Continue reading review
In honor of Herman Wells's 110th birthday this Thursday, we're giving away copies of James Capshew's book Herman B Wells and Wells's autobiography Being Lucky. Enter to this set of books about the former IU president by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and mailing address. Entries will be accepted now through June 8 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Winners will be notified by email and books will ship via USPS.