In this morning’s Post, a former teacher tells the story of how, in his new job, he copy and pasted materials written by others into a report for his supervisor. And was praised for his work.
From that experience, he wonders whether we should still be giving students assignments that lead them to do the same thing.
Now I watch my former teaching colleagues grade papers not simply by marking a dangling participle here or an incomplete thought there, but by Googling phrases from their students’ work, searching for the suspected source of yet another cut-and-paste job. I wonder if that’s really what teachers should be doing. As kids today plagiarize more and more from the Internet, the old-fashioned term paper — composed by sweating students on a typewriter as they sat elbow-deep in reference books — has no useful heir in the digital age. It’s time for schools and educators to recognize the truth: The term paper is dead.
He’s right. The traditional research paper is no longer a valid assessment of student knowledge (if it ever was).
Asking students to recycle material they locate in various sources into a paper that’s supposed to reflect their learning doesn’t make a lot of sense in an age of near instant access to information.
It’s also a big waste of valuable instructional time, for both teacher and student.
We need to create better ways of testing how well our students are able to “synthesize content from multiple sources, put structure around it and edit it into a coherent, single-voiced whole”.
The standard term paper deserves to die.