I posed a question for my teacherly friends on Facebook because I really wanted to know: How do you react when a student repeats all or part of the prompt in the first paragraph of the essay--good thing/bad thing? And a colleague responded thus: "How do I react when a student repeats all or part of the prompt in the first paragraph of her or his essay? Although sometimes it can be a good thing, often it is a bad thing."
Ha! (See what he did there?)
I've railed against this practice in the past. I see some familiar sentences in the introduction to an essay and I say, "Those are my sentences! Write your own! And don't tell me what I already know!" But then students claim that they're just doing what they've been told to do: always repeat the prompt in the introduction.
I can imagine contexts in which this would be a fine idea. If you're writing under time pressure on an essay exam and the question asks about the principle products of Peru, it makes sense to transform the question into a statement and start right in on the principle products of Peru. But for an essay written outside of class with drafts and feedback, you've got time to ruminate on the prompt and spit out an original idea--or at least an unoriginal idea cloaked in original language.
But inevitably I get that student who not only repeats the prompt as the introduction to his paper but also restates it again in the conclusion, perhaps in reverse order, which means that two major paragraphs of his paper are constructed from sentences I wrote. A highly efficient way to write a paper! And this student is well equipped to succeed in the cut-and-paste world we've created for ourselves.
So maybe I should stop screaming about students who steal my sentences and claim them as their own. (But I'll still reward such behavior with a Very Bad Grade--very quietly.)