Students plagiarize because they can

A Google search for âÄúplagiarismâÄù results in countless sources explaining what it is and how to do it. Professors have exhaustedly discussed how to stop plagiarism, but Susan Blum, an anthropology professor from University of Notre Dame, is taking on a new angle âÄî addressing why students choose to cut corners. Her book, âÄúMy Word! Plagiarism and College Culture,âÄù was released last week. Although Blum attributes many plagiarism incidents to the mere accessibility of information, she also said students plagiarize when they arenâÄôt motivated about assignments or engaged in class. âÄúWe need to design assignments students care about because if they care, they are much less likely to cut corners and just do the easy things,âÄù she said. âÄúA lot of students are just going through the motions in college for a lot of reasons.âÄù Michelle Holman , a University of Minnesota junior, doesnâÄôt advocate plagiarism, but said she thinks students are copying and pasting because culture has taught them to do everything they can to make things easier on themselves. Although students might not think itâÄôs a big deal, from a professorâÄôs perspective it is a problem. Eric Grodsky, a University sociology professor, traces studentsâÄô actions to opportunity. âÄúThe more opportunity there is, the more [people] will offend,âÄù Grodsky said. âÄúItâÄôs an opportunistic thing.âÄù Psychology professor Gail Peterson said plagiarism could be a learned behavior. There is a long history in both personal lives and in culture of looking to others for behavioral cues, Peterson said, and when students plagiarize, they follow a similar concept. âÄúWe human beings learn from imitation all the time âÄî to a great extent thatâÄôs what the education system is about,âÄù Peterson said. âÄúThatâÄôs why those professors are standing up there talking smart. They want you to imitate the way they behave.âÄù But professors donâÄôt want students to copy exactly what they said or to buy a paper online, a form of plagiarism that is obviously intentional, Peterson said. Peterson blames intentional plagiarism on a consumer mentality. âÄúWe are a consumer culture, arenâÄôt we?âÄù Peterson said. âÄúWe donâÄôt make very many things for ourselves anymore. We go out and buy stuff. This is probably just a generalization of that pattern of behavior.âÄù Not all plagiarism, however, is intentional, said Sharon Dzik, director of the Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. Often times, students arenâÄôt adequately informed about what plagiarism is, Dzik said. They may know that itâÄôs wrong to buy a paper, but they might not realize what information they have to cite. Teachers have the responsibility to inform students what plagiarism is from day one, Dzik said. The Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity doesnâÄôt release the number of students penalized for plagiarism each year, because many incidences go unreported, Dzik said.