What do Legos have to do with plagiarism? At first glance, it can seem like there isn’t much of a connection between the two, but as a group of Criminal Justice students found out last week, Lego can be a useful tool for illustrating the relationship between the authority a student has in their writing and the need to acknowledge the sources used for their assignments.
In a lesson inspired by Carina Buckley’s (2015) article “Conceptualising Plagiarism: Using Lego to Construct Students' Understanding of Authorship and Citation,” students met with a librarian in the Flag Room to participate in an active and engaging session focused on the ethical use of information. At the start of the lesson, students were instructed to create a Lego animal with the following guidelines 1) they needed to use a minimum of 10 pieces of Lego from 2) at least three different containers 3) in a seven-minute timeframe. After a discussion on paraphrasing, summarizing, and plagiarism in which students evaluated whether various writing examples showed evidence of plagiarism, the class returned to the Lego creations which students held on to during the lecture. Students were asked which container a specific piece of their Lego creation came from. When students were unable to identify the specific container, their creations were broken apart and the piece in question was removed from their Lego animal. This activity helped to highlight that even though students use their own words when paraphrasing or summarizing content, they still need to acknowledge where they use others’ work in their assignments, primarily through the use of in-text citations.
The goal of this lesson was to provide students with an engaging, memorable, and useful activity to emphasize not only the importance of following APA guidelines and avoiding plagiarism but the value of ethically incorporating others’ work into their own. Students were able to leave the session with a clearer understanding of the role of authority and paraphrasing/summarizing in their writing and the fun memory of playing with Legos during a library instruction session.