What should one do if they were caught plagiarizing assignments?
I moved this topic to the "Teachers" section because I think that this is an issue that impacts all teachers today. With the acceleration of technology in the lives of students and the openness of the web, I think that plagiarism is much more evident today than at any other time. Teachers struggle with this and the issue is one in which teachers and schools must seek to understand the issue and how to both address and rectify such behavior. The student has to consider a couple of realities in light of this emphasis from teachers on the subject of plagiarism.
In terms of the student behavior, this is going to go at the heart of the issue. I think that if the student was caught plagiarizing, the immediate path is to confess. The reality is that any teacher who suspects a student of plagiarism can enter their work sample into a search engine and find the source. Confronting the student is usually a situation where the student is cornered. The natural tendency might be for the student to deny it, but I tend to think that if a teacher or a body has collected evidence against the student, being able to admit the wrong and plead for some type of mercy or leniancy might be the best path to consider. Again, if the student knowingly plagiarized, it is a situation where a calculated risk was taken. They understood instantly where the reality lies. The fact of the matter is that when they plagiarized, they understood that there was a chance they could be caught. I think that considering the path of acceptance and an assurance that such a gamble should not be undertaken again might be one path to pursue.
At this point, I think that the larger issue might be to discuss how students need to avoid plagiarism in the first place. I would think that part of the problem is poor time management. Plagiarism becomes a "quick fix" to the problem of needing to battle time. Instead of having to embrace it as a necessay or perceived needed path to solve a problem, students might want to get in the habit of effectively long term planning. This would enable rough drafts to emerge and these drafts can be shown to teachers and professors, reducing the likelihood of plagiarism. Teachers can recognize student work as a growth or process, decreasing the likelihood that the work was plagiarized. Considering the option of planning work out instead of rushing it to get done and thus feeling the need to revert to plagiarism might be one path to pursue. Another avenue to consider is the student gaining the discipline to cite everything. Being able to freely attribute work to another author if the ideas are there might be a path to consider, as well. While it might be awkward to cite everything, it reduces the claim or charge of plagiarism being made as the student is not taking credit for the work when they actually attribute it.
Catching someone cheating often underscores a student's either misinterpretation of the class rules, or the expectations of the student were never clearly explained and understood. One of the most basic and fundamental of all academic relationships with students: positive and honest behavior.
Did you go over your expectations for them? Did you explain that there is no reason to cheat and that you will help all of the students reach their goals? Cheating usually occurs as a sign as a lack of respect for the teacher, that assistance will not be given, and that the teacher is not approachable when the student has a problem.
Try to underscore your expectations for students all of the time reinforcing the positive and honest behaviors for your students.