I dunno, maybe I'm just bitter* because you all get to go to Inkshed and I
don't, but I have to put on my troll suit for a moment:
--On Monday, April 05, 2004 6:20 PM -0600 Doug Brent <[log in to unmask]>
> I've always thought that fear of plagiarism really goes too far when it
> starts preventing people from doing what's right for their students..
. . . but I have to ask: What's "right" in this context? We've gone
around and around about how the term paper - school writing - is an empty
exercise, devoid of real purpose and audience. So what's the loss?
I think I'd make the argument that the loss may be the experience students
get with synthesizing different authors' arguments, and making an argument
of their own. But there are other ways to do this besides the term paper.
Years ago, Beth Baldwin wrote a piece for RhetNet (anybody remember
RhetNet?), arguing, essentially, that the time of the essay had come and
gone. The piece was called "Evolving past the Essay-a-saurus:
Introducing nimbler forms into writing classes," and you can still read it
at http://www.missouri.edu/~rhetnet/baldwin_snap.html. Beth found that she
was able to get students to sharpen their rhetorical abilities much better
by using class discussion lists.
Beth's arguments have made increasingly more sense to me the longer that I
work in a College of Pharmacy, too. Pharmacy is a very content-heavy
discipline, and - much more so than History or Psychology or English -
there's stuff there that people have just GOT to know. I'd argue that the
content leaves little latitude for teaching methods, in many cases, and the
kind of writing-to-know that we as rhetoricians value will always play a
minor role in Pharmacy and fields like it. In these disciplines, bagging
the term paper because of concerns about plagiarism is probably a really
good idea. Heck, bagging the term paper for *any* reason is probably good,
especially if the term paper is ill-taught and the replacement is a vibrant
kind of writing that really gets students thinking . . .
(No, I'm not really bitter, but I *am* going to miss you people!)
Marcy Bauman, PhD
College of Pharmacy
University of Michigan
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