June 13, 2011

Tips for Preventing Plagiarism among College Students

By: in Instructional Design

Add Comment

For some students, a writing assignment takes weeks of research, writing and revisions. For others, the ingredients are more along the lines of Google, CTRL+C and CTRL+V. And for others still, the assignment is nothing more than a transaction with an online essay mill.

Errol Craig Sull has taught online courses for more than 10 years and during that time has seen his share of copy and paste and essay-for-hire plagiarism. In some cases, the students don’t even realize they’re doing anything wrong or were never taught proper citation practices.

During the online seminar How to Detect and Prevent Plagiarism in the Online Classroom, Sull shared tips for spotting instances of plagiarism as well as how to minimize it from happening in the first place.

“The first thing you need to do is get students’ attention,” said Sull. “Let them know you are going to actively work to detect plagiarism and that there are software tools like Turnitin that you’ll be using.”
In addition to talking with your students about plagiarism, and teaching them how to correctly cite their sources, the ways in which you structure your assignments can go a long way in preventing plagiarism, Sull said.

Here are some of the plagiarism prevention strategies Sull uses in his courses:
Get to know your students. Early on in the course, low-stakes assignments that ask students to introduce themselves or discuss their goals for the course help provide a baseline if you need to compare a suspect essay against their writing style and stated interests.

Require up-to-date research. Paper mills often use older sources or don’t pay attention to the dates. Make it harder for students to buy their papers by requiring that all sources be no more than five years old.

Require revisions. Writing is a process and by making students submit an outline and drafts of a paper, you’re creating another barrier to plagiarism.

Require a journal. If students know they will need to discuss their research, how they arrived at their topic and thesis statement, and the problems they encountered, they will be less likely to submit unoriginal work, Sull said.

Vary the audience. Require students to write papers for different audiences and to use specific vocabulary, structural approach and research components in each paper.

“Remember: A teacher has always been a mixture of Socrates, Helen Keller, Confucius, Horace Mann, Galileo, Booker T. Washington, and Ayn Rand … but now must also add Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, and Wyatt Earp,” Sull said.

email
Add Comment

Tags: , , , ,


Comments

CAL | June 13, 2011

One 'fringe' benefit to these methods is that they are useful tools for helping students to actually become better writers, thinkers, and readers of scholarly materials.

@dumblekar | June 13, 2011

Some other ways of avoiding plagiarisation in assignments:
1. Keep it short, so that every student can do it. You could limit the size to (say) a page or (say) 500 words per week's assignment effort. Once the student achieves certain levels of mastery and confidence, he will be eager to use his new-found skills for more.
2. Keep it simple, having few (say, 4-5) new instructions to do it. 'New' is important, for if the student has to study the subject and the assignment structure / method, it would be tempting to plagiarise.
3. Encourage him to discuss his assignment with anyone of his choice, as long as the contents are original and different. Such open discussions reduce the vicarious pleasure inherent in cheating.
4. Keep the topic current, perhaps not older than 3-4 months, depending on the availability of material
5. Change the objective of the assignment from mere analysis to forecasting and recommendation, forcing the student to solve a problem, after explaining a historical event.
6. Using Bloom's taxonomy may help to change the pace from one assignment to the next, keeping the student thinking on his toes (sic).

Sincere apologies for any unintended overlap with the strategies mentioned elsewhere in the article.

Saber Hussein | June 17, 2011

I like your POSITIVE enabiling approach to learning, including the negative objective, eliminating the need for plaigarism. Building ability an confidenece in what you can is the equivalent of immunization against plagarism. I think I have to explain the immunization in the context of writing. The original writing and the plaigerized product have in common the use of the vucabulary of the [English] language. So , if you learn to use the building blocks, the words, you gain resistance against the big chunk of words, the paigerized piece that somebody else wrote. This is like injecting somebody with some proteins (antigens) of a microbe to immunize that individual againt the infectio with the "big chunk" live microbe.

Saber Hussein | June 17, 2011

For example, if you ask a student to write an assay, a composition, about the summer weather in the Palestinian city of Jerusalem he has to use certain words such as hot, warm, cold, mild, temperature, cloudy, clear, windy, ..etc. If the student knows these words and the weather in Jerusalem in the summer, and he knows how to use these words in meaningful sentence he would not need to copy the weather report from a weather web site; he would not even find pleasure in doing the latter.

I like your approach because it blocks the entrance for Sherlock Holmes and the likes that should have no place in the educational process unless they are the subject of the education.

Saber Hussein | June 17, 2011

Correction
I like your POSITIVE enabling approach to learning, including the negative objective, eliminating the need for plagiarism. Building ability and confidence in what you can is the equivalent of immunization against plagiarism. I think I have to explain the immunization in the context of writing. The original writing and the plagiarized product have in common the use of the vocabulary of the [English] language. So, if you learn to use the building blocks, the words, you gain resistance against the big chunk of words, the plagiarized piece that somebody else wrote. This is like injecting somebody with some proteins (antigens) of a microbe to immunize that individual against the infection with the "big chunk" live microbe.

Saber Hussein | June 17, 2011

Correction
write an essay, not assay


Trackbacks

  1. There are no trackbacks to this post yet.