Tag Archives: students

Footnote: Blog Stats at the End of the Semester

I just took some time out from the final grading crunch to peek at my stats. It’s interesting to see which blog posts get hits during the end of the semester—more interesting than some of the stuff I’m grading.

To be clear, I don’t think the hits come from the university where I teach, but based on stats, I think it’s fairly obvious students near and far are searching the Internet for sources and backgrounds.

I don’t see huge numbers, but I see some definite clusters. Of particular interest at the end of the semester are my previous posts here about Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, Descartes, Kierkegaard, Chekhov, Bart Ehrman, Stoicism, and Paul Holmer on how literature functions. Last week, I even saw a referring link from a plagiarism-detection site, suggesting that, whether someone gave proper credit or not, info in one of my links appeared in a research paper.

More pleasantly, and probably not due to college students, another trending post is “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees” by T.S. Eliot.

Now, for me, it’s back to grading fiction portfolios.

Maybe Mark Driscoll is a product of his time: 2013 poll on plagiarism, fair use, & copyright

As Warren Throckmorton’s examinations of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s “citation problems” continue, I’ve been researching “intentional plagiarism” and “unintentional plagiarism,” as well as what common academic and publishing style guides say about fair use, copyright, and paraphrasing.

More on those matters in upcoming posts. First, I wanted to share some relevant information from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Back in July, NBC News reported the following based on a Pew report that had just been released:

Most writing teachers believe that digital tools — from wikis to whiteboards — make it easier to teach writing, but say they worry about plagiarism and informality in their students’ work, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

More than 2,400 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) middle- and high-school teachers were asked about the use of digital tools including interactive whiteboards, wikis, websites, blogs, and collaborative Web-based tools (such as Google Docs) as sources of help for writing.

“In addition to giving students low ratings on their understanding of fair use and copyright, a majority of AP and NWP teachers also say students are not performing well when it comes to ‘appropriately citing and/or referencing content’ in their work,” the study found.

“This is fairly common concern among the teachers in the study, who note how easy it is for students today to copy and paste others’ work into their own and how difficult it often is to determine the actual source of much of the content they find online.”

Those issues have become so important that 88 percent of the teachers said they spend class time talking to students about the concepts of “citation and plagiarism,” while 75 percent make sure they talk about the notions of fair use and copyright with their students. [boldface added]

Apparently, few really understand the academic, ethical, and legal implications of an inappropriate use of another person’s ideas and (or) creative work.

While the websites of some acclaimed universities (e.g., see here and here) note that students might not always be aware of when they are plagiarizing, those same sites name such unawareness “unintentional plagiarism.” In other words, it’s still plagiarism.

This would be a different take than that held by the folks at Driscoll’s publisher Tyndale House, who defensively have suggested that plagiarism requires an intentional act.

“While there are many nuanced definitions of plagiarism, most definitions agree that plagiarism is a writer’s deliberate use of someone’s words or ideas, and claiming them as their own with no intent to provide credit to the original source,” Tyndale House said in part of a statement released back in December.

“Nuanced definitions of plagiarism”? Cut the nonsense. Tyndale House might as well had told us the definition at hand depended on what our definition of “is” is.

Campus student ministry offers ‘silence’ and ‘incense’

On Wednesday, I was driving through the campus of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., when I saw a sign that provided additional evidence for what young people want in worship services.

I believe it was the Lutheran Student Center that had a sign out front with three big words on it. Passing by in a car, I was only able to catch the first two: “Silence” and “Incense.” These words were presented on the sign as offerings for hungry students.

As another writer has recent noted, college-age students already have access to popular music and entertainment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What’s drawing them to worship services is not more of the same, despite the complete inability of just about every minister to understand that.

What’s really awful about the “contemporary worship services” and the “outreach ministries” are their failure to know the people they’re trying to reach. I remember, while I was on my way out of evangelicalism and toward mainline Protestantism, noticing how evangelistic and apologetic efforts were always ginned-up from within the circled wagons of churches, believers, and seminaries. The people creating these moves seemed to be saying, “If I was a non-believer, I would probably think and believe something like . . . .”

However, they weren’t non-believers, and they had little understanding of people. The better folks doing the ginning-up had gained an understanding of cultural forces and the impact of ideas, but few knew and genuinely befriended people. When they did get to know people, it had all the genuine-ness of multi-level marketing sales. (Remember Amway salespeople of recent decades?) The individual was not an interesting person to the evangelist or apologist, but rather a prospect, a target, a challenge. Not primarily a friend or a person.

But to come back to my original point, I remember a story from a student at the campus where I teach, Coastal Carolina University. A young, zealous, Southern, evangelical student invited some Northeastern cradle-Catholics to a local rock-and-roll church — you know, one of the churches with “high-energy” worship, guaranteed never to be boring.

How did the Northeastern cradle-Catholics react to the rock-and-roll church? Were they surprised that church could be so cool? Were they delighted to hear a backbeat in the worship songs? Did they feel at ease around casual clothing?

No. Their response was simple: “That’s not church,” they said.

I figure they had expected something a little less like the rest of their lives.

‘Studying less while the economy burns’?

Even if both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney can tap dance on water and heal the stupid with spit and dirt, nothing can stop the bad economic news to come….

Just in time, college students across America have launched a strategy to deal with this crisis: Study less.

Less studying, as you might recall, is a time-honored approach to getting a good job and staying ahead in a global economy that’s competitive and tanking.

Read the full column HERE.

USA Today: More college kids moving to the Libertarian Party

Read “Forgotten” College Students turning to Libertarian Party.

College students and the Grammys

It was an informal survey, of course, but I really did not expect what it revealed.

During the past two days, I have polled about 80 students in four sections of English 102 at Coastal Carolina University.

I asked questions like, “Did you watch the Grammys? Who watched the Grammys?”

I was thinking, “Who wouldn’t watch the Grammys?”

The 51st Annual Grammy Awards included live performances by U2, Lil Wayne, M.I.A., Coldplay, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Katie Perry, and several more recording artists who (surely) are familiar to folks in their late teens and early twenties.

So how many of my English 102 students watched the Grammys?

In one class, I might have had six hands in the air. In the other three classes, fewer than five raised their hands.

Some of those hands came with comments like, “I watched some of it.”

These classes are mostly populated with freshmen.

I think music must be getting more democratic, less hierarchical. After all, the Grammys is a marquee event for popular culture, and most of the English 102 students didn’t stop to watch.

I often use examples from popular films in my classes because there are some movies that nearly everyone has seen.

But music? It’s less likely that everyone has heard the same songs or loaded the same tunes onto their MP3 players.

Movies still have big advertising and marketing campaigns, and still have distribution routes that keep viewers on a tight leash. If you want to see a new Hollywood movie, most of the time you have to go to the cinema.

But music? A televised, annual event with live performances by big-name recording artists can’t draw much more than two percent to three percent of my students.

Or, you could say, movies have a portability problem that indirectly allows some of them to become popular in ways that songs and even recording artists cannot.

It’s easy to listen to music on small devices, but movies (once they’ve made their run in the cinemas) require at least a small screen to view. You can’t watch that small screen while you’re driving, but you can listen to music just about anywhere, just about anytime.

The portability of music and the convenience of transporting allows the proliferation of distribution routes and low-cost, or free, or pirated downloads. Spend a few minute on the Web and you’ll find dozens of bands that are new to you. Some band sites on MySpace will allow you to download select MP3s for free.

But all that is just well-worn speculation about the impact of technological changes.

I’m just surprised more of those students weren’t watching the Grammys.

Are college students changing their minds about casual sex?

Author Donna Freitas recently wrote this shocking article in the Wall Street Journal; here’s an excerpt:

After conducting a national college survey of over 2,500 students, I found that among those who reported “hooking up” — a range of sexually intimate acts, from kissing to intercourse, that occur outside a committed relationship — at Catholic and nonreligious private and public colleges and universities, 41% are profoundly upset about their behavior. The 22% of respondents who chose to describe a hook-up experience (the question was optional) used words like “dirty,” “used,” “regretful,” “empty,” “miserable,” “disgusted,” “ashamed,” “duped” and “abused” in their answers. An additional 23% expressed ambivalence about hooking up, and the remaining 36% were more or less “fine” with it. And 45% of students at Catholic and 36% at nonreligious private and public schools say that their peers are too casual about sex. Not a single person at these schools said that their peers valued saving sex for marriage, and only 7% said that they felt that their friends wanted to reserve sex for committed, loving relationships.

When last semester I taught Wendy Shalit’s “A Return to Modesty,” in a class at Boston University called “Spirituality & Sexuality in American Youth Culture,” I assumed that my mostly left-leaning students would reject her arguments about the terrible effects that the hook-up culture has on young women and the positive effects of traditional religion and morality on young women’s well-being. Instead, my students ate up her critique and were fascinated by her descriptions of modesty as a virtue, especially within the context of faith. One student said that she felt empowered to stop tolerating vulgar remarks about sex made by peers in her presence.

The class was equally attracted to some evangelical dating manuals, like “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris and “Real Sex” by Lauren Winner, that I asked them to read. They seemed shocked that somewhere in America there are entire communities of people their age who really do “save themselves” until marriage, who engage in old-fashioned dating with flowers and dinner and maybe a kiss goodnight. They reacted as if these authors describe a wonderful fantasy land. “It would be easier just to have sex with someone than ask them out on a real date,” one student said, half-seriously.

Interestingly, most of the study respondents do identify with religious traditions that have rules about sexuality. But, with the exception of evangelicals, American college students see almost no connection between their religious beliefs and their sexual behavior. This radical separation of religion and sex tells us important things not only about the power of the college hookup culture but also about the weakness of religious traditions in the face of it.

Donna Freitas is the author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses, new this month from Oxford University Press.

Related issues were briefly addressed in the LiturgicalCredo.com interview with Peter Augustine Lawler.

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