Using another’s written work either by blatant copy-and-paste or by poor paraphrasing amounts to the same thing : plagiarism. When I taught high school mathematics, I assigned a report on a famous mathematician and I was pleased with the results. As I tapped the set of papers on my desk to straighten them out, I noticed one report was shorter than the others – the bottom of each page had been cut off. I quickly did a search for a sentence in the report and discovered the entire paper online. This student had simply cut off the reference information that was printed at the bottom of each page. Needless to say I checked the rest of the papers as well and thankfully, found no further plagiarism.
When I started to do some research into adult online learners and plagiarism, I was hoping that being an adult implied a higher sense of integrity. However, plagiarism was still an issue and it really does not matter if they are online or not. Detection software is the key to deterring it. All written work is available electronically and can be subjected to an online plagiarism checker, such as TurnItIn. An interesting article about a study at Penn State’s World Campus in the Geographic Information Systems certificate program discusses Plagiarism by Adult Learners Online: A case study in detection and remediation. Well worth reading!
How do you handle plagiarism in your courses, online or face-to-face?