Teaching & Learning Tips

A collection of tips and tools designed to aid in transitioning instruction online.

Re-Thinking Plagiarism Detection

Aug 12, 2021

rethinking-plagiarism-detectionEmma was concerned about the increase in plagiarism among her students. As an instructor for an advanced composition course, she knew that most of the plagiarism was unintentional and could likely be reduced by giving students more writing practice and feedback, but how could she do this without drastically increasing the course’s already heavy grading load?

Emma decided to use the plagiarism detection software in her learning management system as a teaching tool instead of a punitive one. With her teaching team, she crafted a four-step approach:

  1. All assignments and rubrics were revised to include clear expectations about academic integrity.
  2. As part of writing instruction, students learned how to submit their work to the plagiarism detection program and interpret the generated report.
  3. Instructors created “Check Yourself” links for all assignments so students could generate a plagiarism detection report before officially submitting their work, enabling students to catch and correct their errors.
  4. Students were required to submit benchmark assignments and unscored drafts for quick instructor review, thus allowing the team to address possible infractions in a low-risk environment.

Not only did these changes significantly reduce instances of plagiarism, but also students reported significant increases in satisfaction. They indicated a perceived reduction in their workload simply because they could check and correct their writing prior to turning it in. Students consistently stated that they felt the software made revision easier and kept them out of trouble. One student even jokingly compared the software to Safe Auto, the insurance company whose commercial tagline was, “We keep you legal for less.”