Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

Image of stop cut and paste

With open access to many resources in the internet, students might unintentionally copy and paste or use other people’s work withoutproper citation. In some cases, under pressure, students might intentionally plagiaries; task, time and grade pressures could motivate students to plagiarize (Stover & Kelly, 2005). To help students in understanding academic integrity, instructors need to provide clear expectations, refer to institutional polices on academic integrity, and utilize the use of plagiarism detection software.

Plagiarism Detection Software:

For example, Turnitin.com is software that checks the originality of papers, enables peer assessment and provides online grading capabilities (iParadigms, LLC, 2013). Another software, EVE2 which is an essay verification software (CaNexus.com, n.d.). The software searches the internet for suspected sites; it then sends a report to the instructor with any similarities (CaNexus.com, n.d.). A quick Google search provided many plagiarism detection tools available to students like WriteCheck and Grammarly which is also checks spelling and grammar.

Designing Assessments:

To prevent academic dishonesty, instructors could develop assignments that are based on students’ collaboration, incorporating real-life expectations (Laureate Educations Inc., n.d.). While plagiarism rates in online courses are similar to the traditional courses (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.), assessment strategies in online courses should be different from traditional courses. To elaborate, traditional exams are not effective in the online learning environments; it requires many strategies like the use of remote proctoring, retina scan and thumb printing (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Assessments designed for online learning needs to be authentic and challenge the students to use their research skills by discovering the answers and working with others to develop meaning and solutions (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). These are skills required in real-life situations in the workplace. Personally, now as a graduate student, I prefer the assessments that help me to develop new skills, which then help me to find proper solutions or analysis to various authentic situations and promote the use of higher order thinking. In my undergraduate years, I found some exams that tested knowledge and memorization somewhat intimidating; maybe it was the design of the assessment or because exams were the widespread practice in assessing students’ learning and students usually got tense.

Facilitation Strategies:

A magnifier on a copyright wordInstructors need to apply effective facilitation strategies to help students in understanding the meaning of plagiarism and to prevent students from unintentional plagiarism when possible. If the instructor suspects a cheating incident, he/she could confront the students (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.) offline through email or a phone call; he/she could try to understand the reasons and inform the students about the implications. More important, is that he/she start early in the online course to educate students about the fair use, copyright and plagiarism (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).

Additional Considerations:

Jocoy and DiBiase (2006) suggested that instructors could implement and expectation management plan which is a combination of ensuring that the students understand the institutional policies and procedures about plagiarism. Additionally, to assume that the incidents happening are due to lack of understanding of the aspects of plagiarism (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006).

In conclusion, effective instructional strategies could prevent plagiarism. Instructors need to provide clear expectations with reference to institutional polices in the beginning of the course; they could include this reference in the syllabus and communicate it to students through the announcements. More important, is the design of authentic assessments that could promote collaboration and application of real-life skills. In the future, when facilitating online courses, I would consider these kinds of assessments rather than the tests and exams.

References:

CaNaxus.com. (n.d.). EVE Plagiarism Detection System. Retrieved from http://www.canexus.com/
iParadigms, LLC. (2013). Turnitin products: FAQs. Retrieved from http://turnitin.com/en_us/products/faqs
Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.
Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Plagiarism and cheating [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2098594_1%26url%3D
[Untitled image with a magnifier lens on a copyright word]. Retrieved April 11, 2013 from http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/copyright-infringement-claim-brings-down-democratic-national-convention-154802666.html

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4 Responses to Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

  1. cfentonedu says:

    I find it interesting to contrast conversations about plagiarism and cheating across generations, and student/instructor roles. The question that arises for me is one of whether it is realistic to assume that non-plagiaristic behavior is due to morality and ethics, or fear of the law. Thanks for the information you have provided.

  2. Carmen Daly says:

    Hi Dalia,
    you stated, “Instructors need to apply effective facilitation strategies to help students in understanding the meaning of plagiarism and to prevent students from unintentional plagiarism when possible.” I completely agree because in order to prevent this from occurring and promote academic success, instructors need to develop new strategies and ways to overcome this in their online courses. McCord (2008) listed different strategies instructors can use in order to reduce plagiarism by:
    1. Varying the nature and frequency of assignments
    2. Dividing assignments into component parts
    3. Requiring a range of deliverable products
    4. Requiring evidence of research and proper citation of sources.

    References:
    McCord, A. (2008). Improving online assignments to deter plagiarism. Retrieved from: http://etec.hawaii.edu/proceedings/2008/McCord2008.pdf.

  3. tdeark says:

    Dalia,
    Assessments are difficult in the online environment and frequently they tend to be more in depth as the instructors often feel they have to cover every detail. One of my past experiences with an online class was a history class in which the Instructor developed tests with 100+ questions over 2 chapters and gave a one hour time limit. The test included questions from his video lectures, the book and even the small captions under pictures from the history book. When questioned about his assessments were mentioned he responded with replies related to cheating and his time frames meant students did not have time to “cheat” and look up the answers. His theory was if students did not know the material well enough then they just failed the online course.

    Relating to the pressures of assessments themselves, they are intimidating to the majority of people. I agree with Pratt (Laureate Education, n.d.) in his response that assessments should be authentic and relate to real life. Personally I prefer the way it is through Walden with application assignments and projects as they bring the learning to life.

    Teresa D.

    Laureate Education, (2010) Plagiarism and Cheating (Video Podcast). Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2652196_1%26url%3D

  4. Dalia,

    Great post! I especially enjoyed reading your section on assessments and the need for instructors to develop projects or assignments that are based on collaboration and real-life experiences. You wrote that online assessments should be “authentic and challenge the students to use their research skills by discovering the answers and working with others to develop meaning and solutions.” That’s a fantastic quote and actually could apply to almost any classroom, traditional or online! You’re right; these skills are required in real life situations and should be taught at all levels, everywhere. I also had a rough time with traditional exams because I was never good with memory (my wife would agree!), but I always knew where to find the information and I enjoy reasoning through problems much more than trying to memorize something. Not only would learning be deeper and more successful, but plagiarism would be much less likely.

    – James L.

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