Something that I have noticed over the last few weeks, is how plagiarism seems to become a hot topic at this time of year, with lots of activity about it on Twitter, mailing lists, and other people’s blogs, and then it will drop off the radar until a similar time next year.
Obviously this is a time of the year where for many courses, they are coming to an end, and work is being submitted and assessed and there will be a connection here, but it does highlight to me, how many people seem to deal with plagiarism retrospectively (e.g. deal with it once they have detected it) rather than my preferred method which is to tackle it throughout the year in a preventative manner, and hopefully find your self in a situation where you don’t detect any plagiarised work, when you come to this mad few weeks at the end of the academic year.
Surely, the issue of plagiarism deterrence should be started as early as enrolment on courses and as part of the induction process, so the social media activity around plagiarism should peak in the late summer and early autumn, rather than now.
People often ask me when the best time is to educate learners about plagiarism, to which I respond as early as possible. I would bring it up at the start of the course when students are enrolling, to make sure they know that they are signing up for a course where plagiarism won’t be tolerated. I would then provide them with a brief element of introduction to this area of work during induction, but I wouldn’t cover it fully, as during induction they have so much information thrown at them, it isn’t the best time to deal with this, instead I would wait until the first piece of assessed work is issued, and educate the learners then, this way I can use real examples based on that piece of work, and there is less chance of them forgetting. Another question is about whose responsibility is it to educate the learners, and many organisations will have a dedicated person or team that will go round providing the training, but to me it should be everyones responsibility and the subject tutor is the most obvious person to deliver that element of the support.
The University of Bergen, have as part of their plagiarism deterrence practice, produced this video, which captures some of the ideas quite nicely.
I wish I could bring in a swat team, to deal with a suspected cheat – they wouldn’t do that again.
Thanks to David Hopkins blog post, that alerted me to this video