Opting for the easy way out

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 09 Nov 2017

I REFER to the letter “Plagiarism and the paper chase” (The Star, Nov 7) which seems to explain the inability of our students to cope in a competitive learning world. In my opinion, this is happening because many students don’t really know why they’re studying and what they want to achieve.

Some just want to get a degree while others merely want to be with friends. These are the students who would most likely resort to plagiarism.

All those with a clear goal in mind always move in the right direction. They would learn to get the knowledge they require. It’s lack of interest that leads the others to take short cuts.

Come April and October every semester, students in higher learning institutions would be busy doing their written assignments, which would subsequently be marked and graded by their educators.

Students would have been cautioned by their educators on the implications of resorting to the “copy and paste” method but some would still take the chance, hoping they wouldn’t be caught out.

Students are said to be busy with all sorts of activities and do not want to spend time on their studies. This is correct to some extent but it is not the major cause for plagiarising other people’s work. My guess is the “copy and paste” attitude was inculcated in them when they were in primary school, particularly with the School-Based Assessment system.

Can anyone comment on the “portfolios” compiled by the children? As their parents, did you go through their portfolios? Can anyone deny that most were compiled via the copy and paste method? Were the markers and graders aware of this?

The present generation of students are not used to finding or using other references such as card catalogues. Lack of reference materials may also cause students to continuously use online resources, which could be unreliable. This would affect the academic performance of students because it is hard to understand lessons if there are no proper or reliable references to study.

I’ve also noticed that students lack writing skills. Despite the fact that their studies are structured to encourage them to think critically and to use their diagnostic capacities, they are shocked when they are told to do so. They don’t know how to put their thoughts into sentences, how to mesh sentences into sections and how to express themselves clearly.

We cannot blame the rote learning they did in school for this, and I don’t think the system did not permit them to think or write independently. Nevertheless, when they became college or university students, they found a new environment that required them to think and express themselves independently. When they feel that writing is exhausting or difficult, they are left with the simplest way out – copy and paste.

The teaching side is somewhat at fault too. It is a fact that a lot of educators are not truly committed to their profession. They give marks for answers based on their own notes instead of making students sit for gainful examinations or getting them to conduct contextual investigations to come up with a genuine piece of work. Some educators also lack pedagogical content knowledge.

Both types of educators would contribute to the copy and paste culture.

There are programmes available to help students learn the art of writing and composition. Professional creative writing programmes in various genres of fiction and non-fiction should also be included as part of tertiary level education courses to enable students to develop their skills and professional approach towards their work.


Kuala Lumpur

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