As teachers were are constantly challenged to recognize the authenticity of students work. In Humanities class this year, we’ve introduced a new requirement – the student research journal. This journal will accompany all inquiry projects – whether they are written, oral or visual – and serve as an organizational tool for students to manage their work as they move forward on a substantial inquiry project. We’ve given some guidelines for what a research journal could look like – that presentation can be found here. We also plan to use the journal as a communication tool with teachers and an opportunity for periodic update on the progress of this independent study. In some cases, the journal will be assessed as part of a final grade.
Although it wasn’t presented this way, the research journal, if managed correctly, will also serve as proof of authenticity for all students work. Presumably, if content that comes out in the final product can’t be found in the research journal, then it can’t be verified. In other words – in some form – hopefully in notes in the students own voice – the journal should contain all information (and more) that is included in the final product. Building this step into the academic process has the potential to be extremely powerful and helpful in avoiding questions of plagiarism – intentional or not.
As teachers, many of us – myself included – need to tighten up our own practice to ensure we are modeling appropriate behaviors in the classroom. This includes the use of images, songs, graphs, etc without appropriate citation. In this regard, Creative Commons serves as an excellent resource for teachers and students alike, as we/they seek out content available for use and build on to it, as Creative Commons says in its vision, ‘to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.’