Classroom Policies

Policy and Procedures Concerning Technology in the Classroom

On the use of Laptops and Tablets

I want to embrace the use of 21st century tools in our 21st century educational context; therefore, I am happy to allow the use of laptops and tablets in my classrooms so long as the use thereof fits our learning context at the time. In fact, many of the courses I teach are premised under the notion that all students always have access to laptops or tablets when our learning context calls for their use.

Example Usage Befitting Our Learning Context

Using the device to…

  • access a text upon which we’re currently focusing
  • access software to participate in a current class activity
  • keep notes for the class
  • refer to prior notes for the class

Example Usage Not Befitting Our Learning Context

Using the device to…

  • work on projects for other classes
  • check or engage in social media
  • check or write email

On the Use of Smartphones

In my experience, the use of smartphones in the classroom typically invites more problems and challenges than it helps. Please keep your smartphones on silent mode and put away. I define “put away” not as having the device sitting on your desk—face up or face down—but stowed away in your bag. If there’s ever an appropriate time to use headphones, I’ll be sure to let you know. Otherwise, please consider the use of smartphones and headphones during class inappropriate and disrespectful. Patterns of inappropriate and disrespectful classroom behavior will be addressed and can lead to being dismissed from the day’s class.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism can be a super scary topic, but it doesn’t have to be. I always like to invite my students to think about reasons why we might need a set of standards to cite and document sources and why it might be important to acknowledge the work and ideas of other people. Since part of the curriculum in most of the courses I teach surrounds research methods, citing and documenting sources, and avoiding plagiarism, I have come to expect some instances of plagiarism as a matter of citation error since my students are in the process of learning how to cite and document sources correctly as per academic standards. Again, this doesn’t have to be scary. Mistakes happen, and the course will aim to correct those mistakes; however, attempting to pass off another’s work as one’s own is never acceptable and constitutes cheating in the eyes of all colleges and universities. I handle such instances of plagiarism on a case-by-case basis which usually involves the following policy and procedures.

Policy on “Accidental” Plagiarism

In cases of accidental plagiarism (an attempt to cite but failure to cite correctly), I will contact the student and prompt them to correct the error. Additionally, I will often use a derivative example and share it with all of my students so that the same errors are not repeated (or, with their consent, I will use the student’s exact writing and how they corrected it, highlighting what good editing looks like).

Policy on Plagiarism as Cheating

  1. Either during my reading process or reviewing reports from Turnitin or Safeassign, I notice something in the students writing that does not "sound" like them, or they have an unordinarily high percentage of verbiage that matches another source. Such occurrences prompt an informal investigation where I search for key phrases and clauses used in the writing where the student has not cited or documented any sources.
  2. If a match is found in another source and patchwriting or plagiarism is confirmed, I will share with the student what I have found and ask them to share with me what their process was and how or why this happened. Please remember that simply changing one or two words here and there does not make someone else’s sentences or ideas your own. I can’t speak for other readers, but this act is often read as an attempt to try and fool plagiarism detectors and search engines. Students who do this will find themselves in a challenging situation indeed.
  3. The student must redo the assignment with a different, pre-approved topic in order to continue to have a chance to pass the course. The student will also need to write a short reflection on the experience, detailing what led them to choose to plagiarize and what steps they need to do in the future in order to avoid plagiarizing.
    • Note: in the case of final portfolios or final essays, assignments cannot be redone, which will lead to the student likely failing the course.
  4. As per my contract obligations with my employers, I will file the required reports with the college or university. These reports are usually kept in the students permenant files.
    • Note: repeated instances of plagiarism will likely lead to being expelled from the college or university in question.

None of these things are what anyone wants. So here’s some tips on how to keep this from happening to you.

Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  1. Don’t procrastinate! 100% of my past students who have had to redo papers or failed courses because of plagiarism say it is because they waited until the last minute to attend to their labor and got desperate. Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish your tasks.
  2. Instead of procrastinating, ask for help! All colleges and universities have a variety of resources to help students with writing. Check out your schools Writing Centers or Tutorial Centers. Also please feel free to come to me directly if you’re feeling lost or confused on any writing assignments. You should know how to get in touch with me based on what’s on our course’s syllabus.
  3. Do some mindful breathing before you begin laboring on your reading and writing assignments. This will help calm and focus your mind for the task at hand. With practice, mindful breathing will even help disassociate feelings of fear and anxiety with writing, and as such, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate.
  4. Start with a working annotated bibliography right away and keep track of every single source you consult. Don’t forget to remove sources that you don’t end up using (including sources in your bibliography without using that source somewhere in the essay-proper is a form of plagiarism).
  5. Remember the Conversation! Treat your writing not as merely observing a written conversation but as joining a written conversation. In most academic writing genres, your goal isn’t to simply report information but to contribute something new to the conversation, too.