Examples of plagiarism found throughout draft curriculum

A University of Calgary education professor gave the province an 'F' for its new proposed K-6 curriculum Wednesday.

"The bottom line for me," said U of C associate professor Sarah Elaine Eaton, "is give credit where credit's due and that's what was missing in this curriculum."

 Eaton, who teaches at the University of Calgary's Werklund School of Education, spends her days looking at "misconduct, fraud and ethics in higher education." Educators reached out to her after suspecting plagiarism in the Alberta government's draft curriculum released publicly a week ago.

"From what I've seen there's enough plagiarism that it's more than one person can reasonably handle," said Eaton. "At this point this would have to be addressed by a team of people."

Eaton sat down in her office and went through a few examples systematically like she would with a student paper to determine if there is plagiarism.

"I found examples of indirect plagiarism so that's when words are rearranged or words are swapped out for synonyms but the original work is left unattributed," said Eaton. "Then I found word for word plagiarism from a 1976 academic article."

She said the document  certainly sends the message that the people who built the curriculum don't care about ethics.

"In my blog post I wasn't alleging plagiarism, I was providing evidence for it," said Eaton. "So now it's out there and the fix (for the province) is (to) acknowledge the problem and take steps to remedy it.

"It's a really easy fix," she added. "Just cite the sources!"

Medeana Moussa is the executive director for Support Our Students Alberta and is not in favour of the draft curriculum. Moussa said it actually threatens the foundations of education in Alberta.

"The very notion that this government is trying to pass off a curriculum that possible could have been plagiarized I think insults Albertans," said Moussa. "It really speaks to the fact that they're not expecting Albertans to pay attention but curriculum matters to everyone, it is a citizen issue."

'SURPRISED'

"Alberta Education was surprised to hear these allegations surface over the weekend," said Nicole Sparrow, education minister Adriana LaGrange's press secretary, who released a statement via email Wednesday.

"Hundreds of people, including teachers and subject matter experts have had a hand in the new draft K-6 curriculum through a transparent review process outlined here. In Alberta, it is not typical for curriculum documents to list citations, as this would be done in the resource development phase."

 "Alberta's government is committed to continuing the transparent review process and we are grateful for the robust public engagement, Sparrow continued. "As of today, over 18,000 people have provided their input and we are grateful to each of them for taking the time to do so. We are looking forward to receiving all Albertan’s feedback through the survey at Alberta.ca/curriculum."

INCLUDE FOOTNOTES

Eaton said the right thing for the governments to do is include footnotes into its draft curriculum of where the information came from.

"It's difficult to speculate as to the reasons to why it happened," said Eaton. "It might be sloppiness, it might be negligence but after conducting my analysis the one thing I can say for sure, this wasn't an accident."