Mastering Attribution: Adapting Citation and Anti-Plagiarism Instruction into a Competitive and Active Game-Based Learning Activity
“Mastering Attribution: Adapting Citation and Anti-Plagiarism Instruction into a Competitive and Active Game-Based Learning Activity” Poster Session, American Library Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA June 2015
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Citation Master is a game-based learning approach to teaching students about the importance of academic attribution. This workshop does not focus on idiosyncratic, style-based rules, but instead focuses on the broader skills, philosophies, and ethics behind proper citation and good writing. We assessed the students’ ability to identify the need for citation through a pre and post-test writing prompt. Our goal was to understand if students had an increased understanding of attribution and a more sophisticated framework for understanding the process and ethics of academic writing. Our data supports our hypothesis that students lack a fundamental understanding not of citation mechanics, but of the essential philosophical elements underlying proper academic attribution.
Introduction: Citation Master is a collaborative effort between the McDaniel College Hoover Library, Writing Center, and select faculty within the department of English to develop a game-based learning approach to teaching students about the importance of academic attribution. By design, this workshop does not focus on idiosyncratic, style-based rules, but instead focuses on the broader skills, philosophies, and ethics behind proper citation and good writing. Our goal is to have students take ownership of their research and to realize how the work of others can strengthen or weaken their own work. Citation Master was born out of necessity. Our college, like most institutes of higher education in this country suffers from a plague of plagiarism and a student culture of nonchalance with regard to research and writing ethics. It was the research and project team’s belief, however, that these instances were not wholly based on dishonesty. It is our on-going hypothesis that students lack a fundamental understanding not of citation mechanics, but of the essential elements underlying proper academic attribution. These issues include scholarly wayfinding and mapping through reference lists, ethical use of other’s intellectual property, that it is acceptable to utilize the ideas of others in one’s work, and most importantly for our project that the ideas and research of others bolsters one’s work and lends credibility. This hypothesis is built on the foundation of education scholars like James Paul Gee who’s 2013 work, The Anti-Education Era, illustrates that students are not becoming dumber, they are becoming impatient with old models of education that have never been conclusively proven to work (Gee, 2013). This workshop was designed to increase the awareness of how to develop, research, and support an academic thesis. Additionally, students will become more aware of plagiarism and the pitfalls of poor scholarship. It is our goal to foster creative learning and lasting knowledge through an interactive game-based environment. Current research into game-based learning falls into two distinct modes. The first of these modes is to shape and drive behaviour and is exemplified more accurately in profit generating games such as those available for smart phones. This model is typically used to exploit and push users into a set behaviour (ex. Play a game everyday to unlock a prize). The other typical mode is to attract learners to a new topic by incorporating game elements (Kim, 2015). While our game model does include some competitive aspects and a reward system, our overall motivation is more closely rooted in the latter example in that we are working to attract learners to a new activity through an interactive and fun device. During the course of the workshop, students will be grouped into two teams and given a polarized research topic. Each team will be assigned one side of the argument and asked to research and support their position in a debate format. The students will then be given a short reiteration of their First Year Seminar library-skills session and asked to begin conducting their research.