The assignment was 5 questions over 5 chapters in a popular novel.
Student 1: Plagiarized directly - a simple copy & paste
Student 2: Read a summary of the chapters in SparkNotes, found the answer online on ChaCha and Sparknotes, and wrote the answer in her own words.
Student 3: Answers were similar to Student 2, which led me to understand that both student read summaries but did not directly copy and paste. The syntax the sentences written by Students 2 & 3 were very similar.
Student 4: Wrote a poorly worded guess. Answers were vague or just off.
Students 1 & 4 were easy to deal with, of course. But Students 2 & 3?
Question: How to grade these responses? I can't simply copy and paste a URL where they got their answers. Could I share (anonymously) each other's answers with each student to explain that reading a summary and using the summary is still plagiarism? I find this hard to explain to a student.
But here's what I think. If the question can be found on the web in a Sparknotes summary or ChaCha answer and the student writes the answer in his her own words (still, syntax is too similar for comfort), I believe they have done exactly what we've asked them to do!
Solution: Write response questions that require higher level thinking, compare and contrast, transferring knowledge to solve a problem, and other best practices in reading comprehension.
And write new questions the next year.