We are all educators here, which, by rule means none of us have EVER cheated in a class… right? Suuure. Well, as long as there are students, exams, papers and homework assignments, there will be cheating. We’re not helpless, though, there are some steps that we can take to educate ourselves, and to help our students avoid this dangerous path.
Did you know, that almost 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once, and 90% of students believe that cheaters are either not caught or not severely disciplined? (Sources: “The Center for Academic Integrity Studies” and “US News and Wold Report”, respectively.)
Have you ever heard of studyworld.com, gradesaver.com, cheathouse.com, schoolsucks.com (my personal favorite), or termpapersmonthly.com? No? Well, I guarantee that some of your students have! These are just a small sampling of the many bogus “study” websites that exist. Many of these sites offer download-able, pre-written papers on hundreds, if not thousands of subjects for a low monthly fee… and some papers are even free! Cheating has never been so easy, unfortunately.
So, what do you do?! Well, your first line of defense is your First Day Handout. Include in your handout, in detail, what constitutes plagiarism, and what the consequences are for getting caught. This step is verrry important.
As ridiculous as it may seem to you, not all students who plagiarize are doing so maliciously. Spend some time in class discussing the differences between properly citing others work, and plagiarism. Provide a few scenarios and see if the can distinguish between the two. This exercise could alleviate some of the issues before they begin!
The college also has a license with one of the leading plagiarism checkers around, called TurnItIn. The company constantly compiles information and collects papers into their huge database, and allows you to check suspicious papers against completed works. It’s very slick, and even integrates directly with our college’s LMS, ANGEL! Just add a TurnItIn drop box to your lessons area instead of a normal drop box, and you will be able to check the validity of submitted papers quickly and easily! If you have questions about TurnItIn, please contact your campus librarian, or the CTL for help!
And finally, if you do catch a student plagiarizing in class, report the incident to your Associate Dean. It’s important that they are aware of these incidents, for many reasons! But just be sure that have concrete proof that the plagiarism took place, otherwise, you may find yourself involved in a he-said she-said battle between yourself, department administrators, the student, and sometimes their parents… and no one wants to be involved in something like that while they’re trying to help the students who actually want to learn!
I hope this information has been helpful to you, but I’m just scratching the surface of this topic. I would like to encourage you to share your tips, resources and experiences with plagiarism in your classroom, by leaving comments below!
I would like to thank Mary Ragan, communications instructor, for the wealth of information that she has compiled on this subject, and for being kind enough to let me borrow (*cough*, I mean, plagiarize!) her information for this blog entry. Thank you Mary!