Plagiarism Detection and Prevention
Traditionally, whenever someone thinks about the online learning environment, they think about how easy it would be to cheat in that environment. As a student and an instructor in the past, I have never had the desire to cheat or to worry about my students cheating. In our video this week, Dr. Pratt and Dr. Palloff discuss the topic of cheating and plagiarism in the online learning environment. During the video, they made the point that “learners cheat about as often in an online environment as they do in traditional environments (Laureate Education, 2010).” To me, this makes a lot of sense. As a student in the traditional classroom, I felt a lot more pressure to do well on the exams and midterms because they were your traditional assessments. They were all based on memorization. This anxiety to do well always made me consider making it easier for myself by cheating. And I think this is what drives a lot of students to cheat or plagiarize their work in the first place. They feel an intense pressure that they can’t remember the material that is presented on the exams. So how do we change this feeling or pressure for our students to cheat or plagiarize? We, as the instructors, change how we assess our students.
As the instructor, there are a few responsibilities to help their students not cheat. It is up to the instructor to educate their students about copyright, fair use, plagiarism and cheating (Laureate Education, 2010). Many students don’t realize that they can’t use pictures from websites without giving credit to the source. They might also fail to realize that using little quotes or sayings from an author or video is also considered plagiarism. It is important for the instructor to inform their students that copying and pasting from a website is considered plagiarism (Laureate Education, 2010). Many students also try to re-use their work from a different course to limit working so much on the material. They don’t realize that using their previous work is considered cheating (Laureate Education, 2010). Again, it is up to the instructor to educate their students that reusing their work is not going to be allowed.
If an instructor is still worried about cheating and plagiarism, there are many tools out there to help them keep this under control. While working through this program at Walden, I have used the tool that is on our submission page. This tool looks through your page to make sure that your submission is authentic and isn’t from another source. As a student, it is nice to be able to check your work before you submit it for grading. From an instructor’s perspective, I would think that it would be convenient to be able to have this tool to check each student’s work for authenticity. Without this tool, it would be impossible to make sure every page turned in is authentic.
Our job as instructors is to prepare our students for the real world. In the real world, we are allowed to use many tools to help solve our daily problems in our profession. Dr. Palloff and Dr. Pratt made great points about how creating assessments that check for real world skills can help alleviate the desire to cheat. When I reflect on my years as an online student, I know that this program has been enjoyable because it has allowed me to use my problem solving skills to show that I have acquired the knowledge in a course. In this program, I have not had one assessment that was like a traditional quiz or test. This has helped eliminate my anxiety completely because I have felt like I am being assessed as a professional, not as a student.
When all is said and done, the instructor can play a big role in preventing their students from cheating or plagiarizing. They can inform their students what actually constitutes cheating or plagiarism. The instructor can also design their assessments to incorporate more problem solving skills that mirror real life scenarios of the professional world. With careful planning and clear expectations, the instructor can help students eliminate the need or desire to cheat.
- Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file].