Lebanese American University


Writing Center hosting ‘Plagiarism Week’ to improve student awareness and capability

LAU’s Writing Center is this week holding presentations on documentation skills over the coming week as part of its many efforts to improve students’ writing abilities.

LAU’s Writing Center is holding presentations on documentation skills over the coming week as part of its many efforts to improve students’ writing abilities. “Making students aware of proper documentation style enables them to avoid plagiarism,” explains Paula Habre, director of the Writing Center.

Earlier this semester the center held a series of presentations for students of English 101. “Those sessions were specific because 101 students need only reference one source as part of their course. English 102 is the term-paper writing course, so we have always focused on ensuring they fully understand APA documentation guidelines”, says Habre, referring to the guidelines issued by the American Psychological Association that outline how sources should be used and referenced in an essay.

“We teach the students how to use the correct verbs to cite a source and how to synthesize their sources into their writing in a smooth way without simply copying and pasting.”

This week’s series of presentations at both the Beirut and Byblos campuses will cater to all the students of the 30 sections of English 102. “There are a lot of students because 102 is a required course, and that is why we chose to deliver the presentation as part of that course. It ensures the majority of LAU students gain the knowledge, regardless of their major.”

The presentations last year were delivered during a session of each of the sections, meaning the tutors delivering the presentations took an hour of each courses schedule. “Since it was a new initiative, we needed to reach out to the students then. Now we need to prioritize the time our tutors are available at the writing center for one-to-one sessions, so we developed the concept of ‘Plagiarism Week’,” explains Habre, who first joined the center as an instructor when it opened in 2010.

“At least one, usually two, tutors are available at each branch of the center, to support students in their work,” says Habre, adding that the plagiarism presentations have encouraged more student visits to the Writing Center for further advice and support.

Dr. Nahla Bacha, acting chair at the English and Humanities Department, and Dr. Rima Bahous, chair of the Department of Education, agree with the approach. In their research on student and teacher perceptions of plagiarism in academic writing, they recommend an emphasis on raising student awareness of ethical writing strategies and the implementation of pedagogical practices and institutional policies that educate rather than penalize.

In their paper, published in 2010 in the journal Writing & Pedagogy, the authors noted that while LAU students believed that they had been taught about plagiarism, they did not believe that they had been taught other related skills to avoid it. As such, Plagiarism Week and the Writing Center presentations are likely to be a welcome addition by both faculty and students.




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