Saint Mary's University Writing Centre

Halifax, NS

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Here Are Some Methods Helping English Language Learners Avoid Plagiarism

Purdue Global Academic Success and Writing Resource Center and Blog

Sometimes instructors and tutors miss the mark when teaching students how to avoid plagiarism.  With a TurnItIn® report as evidence of the offense, plagiarism is treated as a matter of ignorance–of citation rules, the plagiarism policy, or the 80/20 principal, and for some students, some of the time, an overview of these conventions is all it takes for the students to apply the lessons in their revisions and get on track.

However, plagiarism can also be the unintentional result of faulty paraphrasing, and for many students, learning to paraphrase is more complex than simply putting text in their own words.  Assimilating a text takes strong reading skills, comprehension of the subject matter, an academic vocabulary, and time.   If one of these elements is missing, faulty paraphrasing will result.

English Language Learners, most of all, need time and help with their textual analysis in order…

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Does Bad “Grammar” Instruction Make Writing Worse?

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

By Patricia A. Dunn

Most students’ writing—in fact, most people’s writing—could use some improvement: in content, organization, coherence, style, and editing. However, many people continue to think that if only students received a dose of “grammar” instruction, their writing would be better. People can mean almost anything when talking about grammar: memorizing rules or perceived rules, reciting the parts of speech, punctuating someone else’s sentences, correcting spelling or usage errors on a handbook practice page, etc. In many cases the teacher drags out worksheets and instructs students to underline nouns and verbs or perform other tasks isolated from their own actual writing. These out-of-context exercises are not “writing” and, in fact, may even make writing worse.

Red pencil being used to edit a paper. The word laying is circled in red

Engagement, Not Estrangement

First, a word about “grammar” and its relationship to successful writing: It goes without question that good writing needs to be well-edited and meticulously proofread for errors. Readers react quickly, strongly…

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