Fostering Originality: Foregrounding Pedagogy

Fostering Originality: Foregrounding Pedagogy

Soni Adhikari (Stony Brook University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7531-3.ch004
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With the rapid increase in the number of international students from different academic backgrounds around the world, college and university educators in the West find it hard(er) to understand the many and complex reasons why these students plagiarize or use sources ineffectively. Reviewing the relevant literature, the author first makes a pedagogical analysis of student plagiarism then shows why educators should shift focus from traditional views about cultural difference toward a multidimensional understanding of plagiarism. The author concludes by recommending pedagogical strategies to help students to adjust to the new academic system rather than ‘policing' their activities and undermining their confidence.
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In this chapter, I argue that educators can best address plagiarism by looking beyond cultural backgrounds of international students and use an educational approach for preventing and responding to plagiarism. We can and should prevent and address plagiarism pedagogically, and we can do this especially by helping students understand rules for documentation of written texts in terms of how knowledge and learning are defined in the new academic culture. Further, instead of trying to figure out whether students who make mistakes are honest or dishonest, it is much more productive to consider their understanding of originality as an educational issue rather than a cultural one, their ability to generate new ideas on given topics a matter of academic development, and the level of their citation skills relative to the demands we make in different disciplines and contexts.

If educators view plagiarism—both intentional and unintentional—as mistakes learners make, then they can develop the best educational approaches possible, instead of resorting to punitive measures. I first briefly review relevant scholarship from a variety of disciplines (including writing studies, applied linguistics, sociology, and the sciences). Then I suggest that educators can tackle plagiarism if they understand it less as a cross-cultural issue and more as a set of learning challenges created when students encounter new academic practices, conventions, and assumptions in a new society, as well as challenges of meeting new and higher demands of learning. This chapter concludes with several pedagogical recommendations for better addressing plagiarism. As critiquing conventional tendencies to generalize cultural differences—that can lead to stereotyping of students as ignorant about originality or dishonest when they do not meet the standards—I urge educators to move toward an educative approach to highlighting issues surrounding plagiarism.

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