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ERIC Number: EJ924855
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jun
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 5
ISSN: ISSN-1080-5699
Cheating the Business Template: Filling in the Blanks
Mechenbier, Mahli Xuan
Business Communication Quarterly, v74 n2 p192-195 Jun 2011
Business professionals often use standard templates when composing documents, and teachers of business writing direct students to textbook examples to use as sample formats. Good instructors do want to provide their students with informative examples of what is expected, especially in an online course environment where students cannot raise their hands during traditional lecture and receive immediate answers. However, when one of the course sample documents is plagiarized, it forces the instructor to assess the cost-benefit of providing such easily plagiarizable material. If students can merely save the file and paste in their own work or--even worse--rephrase the language of the sample document, should instructors upload sample files? In composition courses, a unique essay assignment can decrease plagiarism because the topic may be too distinctive to be plagiarized. However, in business writing, the traditional assignments--memos, formal reports, progress reports, letters of application--have little room for flexibility. Teachers of business communication "must find a reasonable and reasoned balance between protection and access." Accusing a student of plagiarizing a memo, when such documents do indeed conform to a standard template in the business community, may be considered too severe. Students need to accept more accountability for their actions. Using a template document to adhere to "format" standards is very different from using a template document and "re-wording" what is already written. Electronic course files should not be perceived as easy fill-in-the-blank homework, and students should not download classmates' workshopped assignments and submit revised versions as their own. Instructors of business communication have a professional responsibility to explain the dangers of "copying a template" to their students so that they not only learn requisite writing skills but also an appropriate knowledge of workplace ethics.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A