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Defining Our Terms

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Time Estimate

30 minutes


Engage students in a discussion on the terms that determine what can be defined as plagiarism



Computer Lab Option Materials

Digital projector

  1. Put the following terms on the board and ask students to work in pairs, thinking up short definitions for the terms:

    • common knowledge
    • originality
    • own work
    • author
    • borrowing
  2. As pairs of students report on their work, begin writing down significant words and phrases for each term.

  3. If the class does not reach a consensus on these terms, that’s OK. It’s more important that you bring the plurality of definitions to light and expose these relatively “simple” terms for what they really are: contextually sensitive elements of a definition of plagiarism.

Computer Lab Option

Compose the definition on the instructor’s digital projector, or if you have time, have students search online for definitions of these terms and include them in your brainstorming discussion.