Educating Students on Plagiarism

Educating students against plagiarism might be the most appropriate way to ensure students do not plagiarize.  Today, universities and colleges have plagiarism detection tools.  But an effective teaching strategy on education, policy, and guidelines against plagiarism might ensure its effectiveness more than a technological tool.  

The Purdue Online Writing Lab [3] provides instructors and students a valuable source for understanding plagiarism, citation, evaluating sources, and researching. From an instructor’s perspective, this source provides a strong overview of what plagiarism is, as well as supporting documentation for defining and avoiding plagiarism. More importantly, the reference material and site content does not discuss how to catch students plagiarizing, but instead provides resources in educating students, and instructors, on plagiarism. The Purdue Online Writing Lab not only discusses plagiarism, but also provides safe practices for students in properly crediting sources; when to use citation; and submitting drafts. The pedagogical principles supported are defining and developing best practices, including providing policy and guidelines on plagiarism in the course syllabus. Guidelines on the syllabus will provide students with sources of reference as well as understanding of whether the document or writing is plagiarized or not.

The Council of Writing Program Administrators [1] provides an interesting breakdown not only on plagiarism, but defines shared responsibilities with students and instructors in the education of plagiarism. Of course the responsibility with students lies in properly citing references and sources; understanding research assignments; and seeking guidance from their instructor. From an instructor’s point of view, the responsibility lies upon educating students on plagiarism and sources. Through best practices, the Council of Writing Program Administrators provides instructor’s with a strong foundation of developing clear policies through class discussions and updates to the syllabus. Improving assignments to allow students to work toward assignments and provide targeted completion dates for each sequence of the assignment. As with The Purdue Online Writing Lab, the pedagogical principles supported are defining and developing best practices. Policy and guidelines support this principle, but defining responsibilities between student, instructor, and even administrators provides additional support in this principle.

In reviewing many university websites, there are two common elements while researching citation, source evaluation, and plagiarism: 1.) student responsibility, and 2.) Plagiarism detection tools available to instructors.  Immediate concerns are the potential culture of mistrust the universities are portraying when the primary sources on the subject deal entirely on student responsibility and instructors policing their student’s essays.  Carnegie Mellon University [2] provides a different strategy than other university sites.  Much like the Council of Writing Program Administrators, Carnegie Mellon University provides a clear instructional strategy for instructors to provide to their students.  The instructional strategy supports providing a clear definition of plagiarism in the syllabus as well as verbal communication and discussion with the students in educating them on plagiarism; additional milestones where rough drafts are required for submission and review; and submission of electronic copies through plagiarism detection tools/educational tool such as Turnitin.  The additional point of note with Carnegie Mellon University is the recommendations to instruct students on the value of educational tools such as Turnitin.  Educational tools such as this provide students with valuable information on drafts and allows them to rewrite as needed.  This additional piece of knowledge and teaching instruction on tools such as Turnitin, and referencing them as educational tools as opposed to plagiarism detection tools, supports a pedagogical principle that is aimed at developing best practices and safe practices around citation, source evaluation, and plagiarism.


Works Cited

  1. Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Council of Writing Program Administrators. Web.
  2. Design & Teach a Course. How Can I Prevent Plagiarism?  Carnegie Mellon University. Web.
  3. Overview and Contradictions. Purdue Online Writing Lab. 7 June 2013. Web.
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