Resources for Instructors
Preventing Plagiarism Through Course Design
We’re used to thinking about plagiarism as a problem that begins and ends with our students, whether through a lack of effort, planning, time management or familiarity. But recent research suggests that instructors also can and do play a role in facilitating it, and that they can and should take concrete steps to reduce or even eliminate it from their classrooms.
Below is a short list of preventative strategies suggested by the literature that reframes the problem as an issue of course design rather than one of student behaviour.
1. Teach the skills/knowledge you expect your students to have/be familiar with. Allocate class time to talk about the subject; use hands-on, low-stakes activities (in-class and/or online) that give students opportunities to practice; and assign marked assignments on the issues involved. For example, teach students not just how to use citation style, but also how to effectively paraphrase, summarize and quote a text. Each of these is a skill that requires time and practice before it can be mastered.
For assignments, Indiana University has a great online tutorial and automated quiz that you could make students responsible for completing. Alternatively, you could make students responsible for providing photocopies of sourced items, with all paraphrased and quoted passages highlighted, or have them attach a short reflective piece in which they reflect on their use of their sources.
If you are a chair or director, it might be a good idea to discuss with instructors the possibility of establishing a framework that ensures that all students in year one of the program have this exposure. That way, instructors at the second year and beyond can legitimately be assured that students have been taught these skills and knowledge.
2. Employ scaffolding. Weeks in advance of the due date and always for marks, have students submit a paper proposal, a rough draft, or an essay outline document, and/or have them participate in an in-class peer review session that you structure. Alternatively, you could use a writing portfolio or ePortfolio in which students chronicle the paper’s development over time.
Whatever you do, make students responsible for responding to all feedback provided: assign a short reflective piece after they receive your/their peers’ feedback, itemizing the changes they intend to implement. Archive all such materials for later consultation.
3. Connect your students to existing resources. There are already many resources on this subject in place around campus (see the list of student resources below for more details). Draw your students’ attention to these resources by including contact information and links in your syllabus and/or assignment descriptions, and/or by inviting Writing Services into your classroom to talk to your students.
Consider, too, getting your class involved in the Centre for Student Academic Support’s incentive program. You could, for instance, make students responsible for completing their online academic integrity workshop and CSAS would track the workshop attendance and provide a report to you at the end of the semester.
4. Add specificity to your essay topics, and avoid recycling. Design your essay topics so that they assign precise topics or intersect with subjects that are more uniquely tied to the course content you have been teaching.
- For example, instead of, “Write a paper that examines representations of colonialism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” ask, “Focusing on the representations of the ‘pilgrims’, write a paper that considers Conrad’s attitudes towards colonization.” The more you add in terms of specificity, the less likely it is that students will be able to locate an existing paper on precisely the assigned topic.
Alternatively, assign a few sources that every paper on the subject should engage with; these should be few in number, seminal pieces on the subject, and widely available.
- For example, coming back again to Conrad, make students responsible for engaging, at minimum, with Chinua Achebe’s famous response to the novel or Ian Watt’s “Impressionism and Symbolism.” Again, the specific parameters for the essay will render paper mill essays useless.
Whatever you do, avoid recycling the same topics year over year, and avoid setting topics so broad that students are likely to be able to locate papers on the subject circulating online. Revising the topics identified above, for instance, need not be a laborious task:
- For the first example, keep the same broad focus (colonialism in Heart of Darkness) but change the angle (from the ‘pilgrims’ to, say, the image of ivory, or black/white imagery, or the figure of Kurtz).
- For the second example above, keep the same topic but adjust the source(s) your students must engage (say, something by Edward Said instead).
5. Practice what you preach. Follow standard citation practices when designing your lecture materials and any materials you circulate. When you draw on the ideas of scholars in your field in class, draw attention to those borrowings. Talk about how knowledge is constructed in your discipline and the crucial role that interaction between competing sources plays in that process.
Promoting Academic Integrity in the Classroom
Understanding the student perspective is critical in promoting integrity in the classroom. Your approach can prevent the five most commonly reported student excuses for misconduct. Some ways that you can promote a culture of academic integrity at Carleton include:
- Familiarizing yourself and your students with Carleton’s Academic Integrity Policy
- Talking about how you check for plagiarism and providing specific examples
- Discussing how citation shows respect for other scholars and the meaning it personally holds for you as a member of the scholarly community
- Being a good role model. Cite sources in your lectures and PowerPoint presentations
- Changing your assignment formats and topics each time you teach a course term
If academic misconduct does occur, try not to personalize an individual student’s cheating behaviour. Some students in your class may not understand specific citation techniques or examination practices because the rules for your discipline may be different than the ones they learned in high school or in their major discipline. A small number of students can also be the victims of another student’s deception or be caught in a situation where they fear of revealing a classmate’s academic misconduct.
“I didn’t know what academic misconduct was!”
- Go beyond a blurb in your course outline that few students actually read.
- Review correct methods for citation, paraphrasing, etc. Remain positive and non-threatening. Your goal is to teach correct methods, not scare them.
- Discuss moral/ethical issues in class.
- Stress importance of honesty to the intellectual community.
- Highlight legal issues (copyright/intellectual property rights)
- Give assignments to teach best-practices (i.e., a “safe place” to make a mistake with citations and learn from it before the “real-deal” assignment).
- Model good conduct in your lecture, cuLearn and other course materials.
“The prof gives assignments just to make us do work.”
- Be sure the assignment does have meaning. How does it achieve learning objectives for course? What new knowledge/skills/value does it promote? How does it link with other course activities? Does it have unique goals/outcomes?
- Tell students what they will get out of doing the assignment. Go beyond content.
- Ensure grade weighting reflects value of learning outcomes.
- Discuss consequences of missed learning opportunities. Stress your desire for their overall success in the course.
“I had no idea how to do what needed to be done to complete the assignment.”
- Assess students’ prior skills/knowledge and set realistic goals.
- Teach skills set required for assignment and/or provide support needed.
- Go over your assessment of required skills with students.
- Direct struggling students to appropriate resources (e.g., library, ITS, SACDS, etc.).
- Show how paper mill assignments fail to meet your expectations.
“There is too much work in this course. I had to copy to get the work done on time.”
- Estimate and be realistic about the amount of time they can devote to your course. Generally two hours outside class for every one hour in class.
- Determine length and duration of assignment to fit with weighting in course.
- Tell them how long assignment should take. Be aware that you may underestimate.
- Identify strugglers early. Direct them to appropriate support.
“I won’t get caught. If I do, the prof won’t be able to do anything about it!”
- Be consistent.
- Know and follow university policies and guidelines.
- Ensure TAs know their responsibilities and feel supported in reporting suspected cases.
Responding to Suspected Academic Misconduct
Academic misconduct allegations are serious and the student’s confidentiality is imperative. All suspected cases of student academic misconduct must be reported to the faculty dean. You may be tempted to handle the incident yourself, however, doing so only undermines the process.
Inform the student that you suspect they have engaged in academic dishonesty and that you have informed the dean’s office and instruct them to contact the University Ombuds Office. After forwarding the details of the suspected misconduct to the dean’s office, do not discuss the case with the student, colleagues or staff. However, it is reasonable to discuss the case with your teaching assistant if they are involved in marking.
Handling Misconduct During Tests and Exams
If you observe a violation of examination regulations or one is reported to you by other proctors and, in your opinion, there is sufficient evidence to lay a complaint against the student, follow these steps:
- Do not accuse the student or prevent them from finishing their exam.
- Keep any material confiscated from the student.
- If a proctor observed the violation, obtain a written report of the incident from him/her. The report should include: date, time, examination, room number and building, student’s name and I.D. number, seating position, a statement of what was observed and what was done.
- After the student has completed the examination, advise the student that they have committed an instructional offense and that you will be reporting the case to the dean for consideration.
- Inform the student to contact the University Ombuds Office for assistance.
- Write your own report of the incident.
- Forward all reports and supporting materials to the dean’s office as soon as possible.
Strategies to Help Minimize Cheating in Multiple-Choice Online Quizzes
One of the biggest concerns instructors face today is cheating during multiple-choice online quizzes. Although it’s impossible to guarantee 100 per cent protection from cheating, the information below provides a list of helpful strategies that can be implemented when using multiple-choice online quizzes in cuLearn.
- Set a time limit for the quiz, and limit the availability period of the quiz
- Use larger question banks
- Write questions that address higher order thinking skills (such as case studies) to force students to evaluate a situation or a problem, engaging them in critical thinking
- Create your own questions or modify the publisher’s test questions
- Create calculated questions
- Include only one question per page
- Randomize questions and answers
- Use quizzes as formative assessment, and award students a percentage that is not too high to prompt students to cheat, but high enough to motivate them to take the quiz
- Avoid using online multiple-choice quizzes for high-stake exams
- Add extra restrictions on attempts (require password, network address, browser security)
- If the quiz is used as a test or an exam, provide the feedback/marks only when the quiz is closed
- Have students agree to an honor statement reinforcing academic integrity
- Make students aware of cuLearn’s tracking and logging abilities
Resources for Students
- Further Reading
- Bolkan, V. J. “Avoid the Plague: Tips and Tricks for Preventing and Detecting Plagiarism.” Learning and Leading with Technology 33.6 (2006): 10-13.
- Cizek, Gregory J. Detecting and Preventing Classroom Cheating: Promoting Integrity in Assessment. Experts in Assessment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2003.
- Davis, Barbara Gross. “Preventing Academic Dishonesty.” Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. 299-311.
- Guilliano, Elizabeth. “Deterring Plagiarism in the Age of the Internet.” Inquiry 5.1 (2000): 22-31.
- Hamilton, Margaret, and Joan Richardson. “An Academic Integrity Approach to Learning and Assessment Design.” Journal of Learning Design 2.1 (2007): 37-51.
- Jamieson, Sandra, Rebecca Moore Howard, and Tricia C. Serviss. The Citation Project. http://site.citationproject.net/.
- Pecorari, Diane. “Good and Original: Plagiarism and Patchwriting in Academic Second Language Writing.” Journal of Second Language Writing 12.4 (2003): 317-45.
- Waltman, John L. “Plagiarism: Preventing It in Formal Research Reports.” ABCA Bulletin 43.3 (1980): 37-38.
The following procedure is done when the Office of Student life receives an Academic Integrity Reporting Intake Form:
- The Director of Student Life receives the Academic Integrity Reporting Intake Form with all supplements.
- The Department Assistant for Student Life calls the Student-in-Question to schedule a meeting with the Director of Student Life.
- Director of Student Life meets with the Student-in-Question to determine if there was “good cause” in violation of the Student Code of Conduct for Academic Integrity.
- If found in violation, the Director of Student Life will sanction accordingly.
- If not found in violation, the Director of Student Life will release alleged violations.
- If the Student-in-Question does not attend the first Scheduled meeting
- The student fails to show up to their first scheduled meeting.
- The Department Assistant for Student Life will call the Student-in-Question to reschedule the missed meeting.
- If the Student-in-Question fails again to show up to the second scheduled meeting.
- An email will be sent out to the Student-in-Question’s BC email account warning the Student-in-Question to contact the Office of Student Life regarding the missed scheduled meetings or an “Administrative Hold” may be placed on their registration account.
- If the Student-in-Question fails to show up to the third scheduled meeting.
- The Department Assistant for Student Life notifies the Office of Admissions and Records to place an immediate “Administrate Hold” on the Student-in-Question’s enrollment records at Bakersfield College.
- Holds may be removed after the Student-in-Question meets with the Director of Student Life.
Definition of Plagiarism (KCCD Board Policy Appendix 4F7D)
Plagiarism is defined as the act of using the ideas or work of another person or persons as if they were one's own, without giving credit to the source. Such an act is not plagiarism if it is ascertained that the ideas were arrived at through independent reasoning or logic or where the thought or idea is common knowledge.
Acknowledgement of an original author or source must be made through appropriate references, i.e., quotation marks, footnotes, or commentary. Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to, the following: the submission of a work, whether in part or in whole, completed by another; failure to give credit for ideas, statements, facts or conclusions which rightfully belong to another; in written work, failure to use quotations marks when quoting directly from another, whether it be a paragraph, a sentence, or even a part thereof; close and lengthy paraphrasing of another's writing or programming. A student who is in doubt about the extent of acceptable paraphrasing should consult the instructor.
Students are cautioned that, in conducting their research, they should prepare their notes by (a) either quoting material exactly (using quotation marks) at the time they take notes from a source; or (b) departing completely from the language used in the source, putting the material into their own words. In this way, when the material is used in the paper or project, the student can avoid plagiarism resulting from verbatim use of notes. Both quoted and paraphrased materials must be given proper citations.
Definition of Cheating (KCCD Board Policy Appendix 4F7D)
Cheating is defined as the act of obtaining, or attempting to obtain, or aiding another to obtain academic credit for work by the use of any dishonest, deceptive, or fraudulent means. Examples of cheating during an examination include, but are not limited to, the following: copying, either in part or in whole, from another's test or examination; discussion of answers or ideas relating to the answers on an examination or test unless such discussion is specifically authorized by the instructor; giving or receiving copies of an examination without the permission of the instructor; using or displaying notes, "cheat sheets," or other information or devices inappropriate to the prescribed test conditions, as when a test of competence includes a test of unassisted recall of information, skill, or procedure; allowing someone other than the officially enrolled student to represent the same. Also included are plagiarism as defined and altering or interfering with the grading procedures.
It is often appropriate for students to study together or to work in teams on projects. However, such students should be careful to avoid the use of unauthorized assistance, and to avoid any implication of cheating, by such means as sitting apart from one another in examinations, presenting the work in a manner which clearly indicates the effort of each individual, or such other method as is appropriate to the particular course.
Action by the Faculty and Responsibilities
The Faculty has a responsibility to ensure that academic honesty is maintained in their classroom. In the absence of academic honesty it is impossible to assign accurate grades and to ensure that honest students are not at a competitive disadvantage. Faculty members are suggested to:
- Explain the meaning of academic honesty to their students.
- Conduct their classes in a way that makes cheating, plagiarism and other dishonest conduct nearly impossible.
- Confront students suspected of academic dishonesty and take appropriate disciplinary action in a timely manner.
An instructor who has evidence that an act of academic dishonesty has occurred shall, after speaking with the student, take one or more of the following disciplinary actions:
- Issue an oral reprimand (for example, in cases where there is reasonable doubt that the student knew that the action violated the standards of academic honesty)
- Give the student zero points, or a reduced number of points on all or part of a particular paper, project, or examination (for example, for a first time occurrence of a relatively minor nature)
- Have the student repeat the assignment
- Another means determined by the faculty or department
The instructor should also report the incident to the Director of Student Life through the online Academic Integrity Reporting Intake form.
Action by the Office of Student Life
Upon receipt of the first “Academic Dishonesty Report” form concerning a student, the Director of Student Life shall personally meet with each student in question. During the meeting, the student will be served a written warning and one or more of the following sanctions:
- The student is placed on written warning
- The student will need to write a reflective letter regarding the incident and will explain why the behaviors jeopardized the academic integrity of the learning mission of Bakersfield College
- The Student will attend a workshop on plagiarism or academic honesty
- The Student is required to complete four (4) hours of community service
- Another sanction determined by the Director of Student Life
Upon receipt of a second “Academic Dishonesty Report” form concerning the same student, the Director of Student Life shall meet with the student again and determine a course of action that meets the needs of the student and the learning mission of Bakersfield College.
Bakersfield College Research Survival Skills
College Research Survival Skills was initiated by the Library as an outreach to area high schools who are preparing BC’s future students. In the initial video, ten BC faculty members discuss the research expectations held by professors at Bakersfield College for their students. Colleagues from English, Philosophy, Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, Anthropology, and History share their views of what students need to know and do in order to succeed in college-level research. Although it is geared to incoming students, the video is also relevant to students who are already here at BC. The full version of the original is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHPUge6Obc and can also be posted in your class materials.
Students share the responsibility for maintaining academic honesty. Students are expected to:
- Refrain from acts of academic dishonesty.
- Refuse to aid or abet any form of academic dishonesty.
- Notify instructors and/or appropriate administrators about observed incidents of academic dishonesty.
Examples of Violations of Academic Honesty
Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Obtaining information from another student during an examination.
- Communicating information to another student during an examination.
- Knowingly allowing another student to copy one’s work.
- Offering another person’s work as one’s own.
- Taking an examination for another student or having someone take an examination for oneself.
- Sharing answers for a take-home examination unless specifically authorized by the instructor.
- Using unauthorized material during an examination.
- Altering a graded examination or assignment and returning it for additional credit.
- Having another person or a company do the research and/or writing of an assigned paper or report.
- Misreporting or altering the data in laboratory or research projects.
- Stealing or attempting to steal an examination or answer key.
- Stealing or attempting to change official academic records.
- Forging or altering grade change cards.
- Submitting all or part of the same work for credit in more than one course without consulting all instructors involved.
- Intentionally impairing the performance of other students and/or a faculty member, for example, by adulterating laboratory samples or reagents, by altering musical or athletic equipment, or by creating a distraction meant to impair performance.
- Forging or altering attendance records. Collusion Collusion occurs when any student knowingly or intentionally helps another student perform an act of academic dishonesty.
Sample Syllabus Statements
This blurb is written in the voice of the instructor; you may alter these statements, of course, as best suits your course and needs. This is simply a suggestion for you.
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism.
Academic integrity includes cheating, fabricating or falsifying information or sources, improper collaboration, submitting the same paper for different classes without permission, and plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs when writers deliberately or unintentionally use another person's language, ideas, or materials and present them as their own without properly acknowledging and citing the source. Academic Integrity and Plagiarism in this course results in one or more of the following consequences: failure of the assignment, referral to the Dean of Instruction, and/or disciplinary actions by the Director Student Life. Cite sources carefully, completely, and meticulously; when in doubt, cite. Familiarize yourself with BC’s Student Code of Conduct and KCCD’s definitions of plagiarism and cheating (KCCD Board Policy 4F7D; pg. 115).
Academic Integrity/Plagiarism Example Assignment #1
Please answer each of the following questions with a full paragraph for each answer. This is an “open-book” assignment, but you can use your own words for each answer. When you complete the assignment, send your answers to me via e-mail as a single Word or pdf file. When you come to class, append a hard copy of your answers to this sheet, and sign and date as indicated below.
You will receive credit for accurate answers, but I may ask you to retake all or part of the quiz if one or more answer is substantially incorrect, if you do not follow the prompts, or if is your answers show that you do not adequately understand the plagiarism policy.
- What is academic integrity?
- List at least three types of violations of academic integrity.
- According to KCCD’s policies, what are the possible consequences of violating the student code of conduct on academic integrity?
- Explain what plagiarism is and how it can occur even unintentionally?
- What should you do if you are uncertain about how the plagiarism policy applies to your work?
- What are some ways that you can avoid plagiarism?
Academic Integrity/Plagiarism Example Assignment #2
Read the information on Academic Integrity on the Office of Student Life Studies website (https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/campus/student-conduct).
- After reading, using two or three sentences for each one, answer the following questions in your own words.
- What is academic integrity?
- Why is it important?
- What are some examples of academic dishonesty?
- Summarize in a few sentences KCCD’s policies on Academic Integrity.
- Where can you find information about KCCD’s policies on Academic Integrity?
- Why is it in your best interest to make a commitment to upholding the standards of Academic Integrity?
Articles on Academic Integrity
- Zirkel, P. A. (2010). A Study of Self-Plagiarism. Inside Higher Ed, December 3, 2010
- Jaschik, S. (2010). Finding Applicants Who Plagiarize. Inside Higher Ed, June 23, 2010
- Montgomery, C. (2010). Are You Part of Generation Plagiarism? The New York Times, August 3, 2010
- Gabriel, T. (2010). Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in the Digital Age. The New York Times, August 1, 2010
What are Learning Styles
Each individual person has their own set of ways with which they learn best. Some students find they learn best from a lecture when the professor presents key points in a visual manner-either on the board, on an overhead, or with a handout. Others find they have a much easier time hearing someone talk about a subject rather than reading the same ideas on paper. These two examples present the two key learning styles: Visual and Auditory. But learning styles are not limited to the senses of hearing and sight; there are as many different ways of learning as there are learners.
While learning styles are varied, there are some specific categories which people fall into, and there are some specific hints for each category on how to learn more effectively.
The Barsch Learning Style Inventory
To gain a better understanding of yourself as a learner, it is useful to identify the way you prefer to learn. Learning is easier when study skills match your preferred learning style. The Barsch Learning Style Inventory is a short diagnostic test to assess your learning style. You will discover if you learn best through seeing things (visual), hearing them (auditory), or through the sense of touch or body movement (tactile/kinesthetic).
What do the scores mean?
When you have identified your style, what do you do with that information? You need to build on your strengths and address your weaknesses. Most students have one dominant learning style. If you have scores that are close or tied, you can use either learning style equally well. Those who learn to adapt study skills to incorporate all 3 learning styles learn faster and remember longer.
The Visual or Auditory style, whichever scores the highest, is considered the primary preferred learning style. The Tactile/Kinesthetic is considered secondary, even if the score is higher than the other two. This is because we do most of our learning through our eyes and ears, and use the senses of touch, feeling and motion to enhance our primary learning.
What should I do now?
To be flexible to meet any academic situation, you need to use your strengths but also try to build up your weaknesses. Capitalize on your learning strengths because it's like money in the bank you can draw from. Try to convert study materials to the sensory format of your preference. But why should you focus on things you're not good at?
- Not every learning situation gives you a choice.
- Teachers with a learning style different from yours give assignments they find naturally appealing.
- Flexibility = Freedom. The more ways you can learn, the more options and power you will have over your life.
- It's not clear whether learning styles are inborn or the result of experience. Constant deliberate effort can often change your style. But it will take repeated practice and may even be a little painful at first (like working out at a gym.)
Learners taking written tests are expected to retrieve the information in the VISUAL learning style. All students must learn how to strengthen their visual skills if they are to succeed in college because nearly all college testing is conducted in the visual or written mode. If you do not naturally learn in the visual style, you can get the most help by developing some of the visual learners' techniques.