Friday, April 14, 2017

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

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].  


  1. Drew,
    Great blog post this week! You stated that learners cheat as often in an online environment as they do in a traditional classroom environment (Laurate Education, 2010). When you think about it, we have all been tempted with the ability to cheat at some point in our lives, whether it was in a traditional classroom or an online classroom. Ultimately, there are four (4) major reasons why learners cheat: (1) an emphasis on performance, (2) high stakes riding on the outcome, (3) an extrinsic motivation for success, and (4) an low expectation for success (Carpenter, 2015).

    I agree that it is the instructor’s responsibility to educate learners about copyright, fair use, plagiarism, and cheating. According to Harris (2015), it is important to emphasize the importance about plagiarism and that instructors should not assume learners know what plagiarism is. In fact, I would recommend having an introduction course, similar to the Student Readiness Orientation that all learners must take prior to being able to take courses towards their degree program. I recently took a couple of courses on Captivate and Camtasia (e-Learning Software) and I was appalled at how many individuals weren’t aware that it was plagiarizing by taking a picture off a website and/or using another individual’s YouTube video into their project without properly citing their sources. One was even a Disney image! It seems to me that everyone should know that anything associated with Disney belongs to them. It is important for the instructor to inform students that their copying and pasting from a website is considered plagiarism (Laureate Education, 2010).

    I think that the use of plagiarism detection software is one tool that can be used to deter and/or detect plagiarized work. Working with the Turnitin software at Walden has been an eye-opener for some learners who have discovered that they have plagiarized their own work. You mentioned that you thought it would be convenient to be able to have plagiarism detection software check each learners’ work for authenticity prior to submitting it for grading. I value the benefits of this type of software; however, I have to disagree about being able to allow learners to check their work prior to submission. My concern is that some individuals who are plagiarizing other learners’ work would use it to check the level of authenticity then adjust it downward so the software wouldn’t detect that the work was plagiarized.

    I would agree that not having the traditional tests and/or exams decreases the amount of anxiety learners must experience; however, I don’t believe that the lack of tests and/or exams are enough to deter certain learners from cheating. There are still learners who will cheat on assignments, quizzes, projects, discussions, etc. so they don’t have to invest any time in the work. Fortunately, this does tend to bite these learners in the butt at some point in their education and they will lack the necessary skills to be able to perform effectively.

    I agree 100% that the instructor plays a crucial role in preventing learners from plagiarizing others’ work. Effective course design practices place a high priority on designing assessment experiences that matter to students (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 154). It important for instructors to not only educate learners about plagiarism but also take other measures to prevent plagiarism from occurring such as alignment of assessments with instructional goals and objectives, clear, concise rubrics, and ongoing assignments. Course design practices should be taken into consideration when designing assessments.
    Boettcher, J. V. & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple & Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Boss.
    Harris, R. (2015). Anti-Plagarism Strategies for Research Papers. Retrieved from
    Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism & Cheating [Video file].

  2. I think you mentioned a good point about pressure. Students are under a lot of pressure in academic environments to perform well. Not to mention they must also worry about paying rent and bills and feeding themselves while in school. All of this is stress and worry. It is easy to see why some would choose to benefit from cheating.

  3. You made the point that instructors play a big role in preventing plagiarism, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. There is a lot of pressure on learners to memorize information for the exam, but that doesn't really tell the instructor if the learner actually learned the information or just memorized it. Creating assessments that require learners to solve a problem or create something that is evidence that they mastered the concepts taught is a much better way to assess learning. Allowing students to collaborate and research to solve a problem or create their own work to show mastery, takes away that pressure to memorize all the material covered, and allows the learners to use what they've learned in the course, as well as prior knowledge to show mastery.