Finals are a stressful time for students, as numerous deadlines—often requiring the accumulation of a semester’s worth of work—converge into one terrifying week. Pajamas stay on. Coffee gets brewed. Some thrive.  Some sink. And a few, in a panic, copy/paste something directly from Wikipedia.

From the instructor side, finals are also stressful, but in a different way. Not only do we have to rush through stacks of papers, inputting senior grades in time for graduation, but we have to do so with the knowledge that this is the moment of truth—the moment where we find out how effective we have been all semester (if effective at all). Like our students, this process can bring  moments of great triumph, such as grading a perfect test or reading a profound paper—one that perhaps even teaches us something. It can also bring defeat, where we must acknowledge that some students never truly engaged with the material. And finally, it brings sleepless nights (and probably an indignant Facebook status update) as we inevitably find the direct Wikipedia quote copied, pasted, and sometimes linked in a final paper. (more…)