Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

What is plagiarism? Merriam Webster defines plagiarize as “to steal and pass off (ideas or words of another) as one’s own, to use (another’s production) without crediting the source, to commit literary theft, and to present as a new and original idea or product derived from existing source”.

With today’s technology, students can access hundreds of resources on just about any topic which in turn leads to more and more plagiarism and theft of information. Many times students use others work as a fast way to complete assignments. Plagiarism is against the law and in many cases can be punishable by law, therefore, most colleges have strict rules in place to prevent it.

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

The internet has many different plagiarism detection tools available to online instructors. Some samples are:

  1. www.turnitin.com (Turnitin) – Compares student’s work against other student written papers and other online sources.
  2. www.grammarly.com (Grammarly) – Papers and documents can be copied and pasted into the site which checks for plagiarism, grammar and spelling mistakes.
  3. www.scanmyessay.com (Scanmyessay) – Free software that compares student written papers and offers a side by side comparison of the documents.

How can the design of my assessments help prevent academic dishonesty? 

Creating assessments that allow for student choice allows learners to develop a personalized and customized learning experience that requires innovative thinking (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). When making assignments, it is important for the instructor to provide the students with clear guidelines to follow or a rubric so they will know what to expect. The assessments should always be aligned to the class goals and objectives. This helps to ensure that the students are not confused and overwhelmed and makes them less likely to copy and paste from the sources found.

What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

I have used Turnitin in both of the online colleges that I have attended and find it very useful and helpful. I would use a combination of the online detection tools to identify if the students work was original. Of course, it is important to let the students know at the beginning of the course that all work will be checked and also what the consequences will be if they are found plagiarizing. If students know that they are being checked, they will pay more attention to citing their sources and also to the originality of their work. Also when assigning activities, give the students ample time to complete the project and give them feedback. By allowing students to revise and edit their projects they will be more creative and original.

What additional considerations for teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

Strict guidelines and consequences for plagiarism should be outlined at the beginning of each course. The consequences should also be clearly stated so that the students know up front what can and will happen if they are caught using someone else’s work. When plagiarism is suspected, it is the instructor’s responsibility to contact the student and provide them with the specific details that were detected. Depending on the amount of material being plagiarized, the instructor then has the option to take further disciplinary action or have the student redo all or some of the assignment.

References:

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2012). Plagiarism. Retrieved from http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/plagiarism

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One thought on “Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

  1. I have had great experiences with Turnitin as both instructor and student and really appreciate that it is integrated with Canvas. I was very surprised, however, at the students reactions to it. I teach in a very small program that has little contact with the rest of college and assumed that Turnitin was something that had been used campus-wide. I was shocked to learn that students were figuratively up in arms over its use! They had no idea what it was and were concerned that it was punitive in nature. I was interviewed for the school newspaper regarding Turnitin and told them of my positive experiences as a student and also shared an instructor’s perspective. I learned a valuable lesson – explain to students exactly what a tool is and an how it will be used and what impact it may have on them!

    Rebecca

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