How to Help Students Understand Plagiarism

Posted by Steve Copacino on 11/29/16 11:00 AM

high-school-students-in-class.jpgEducators face a widespread problem with students committing plagiarism, and often focus only on eliminating obvious types, such as neglecting to cite information from internet sources and copying another student’s work. This approach, however,  overlooks the many other forms of  plagiarism, and neglects to address the fact that students may not even know about these other types of plagiarism. It's essential for educators to teach students about  all forms of plagiarism so they don't suffer the negative consequences.

Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism comes in many forms, and it is not always intentional. Here are some of the most pervasive types you might encounter in your school.

Self-Plagiarism

Students write many papers throughout their academic careers and might revisit similar topics multiple times. This type of plagiarism stems from students unintentionally reusing identical phrases in their work.

Accidental Plagiarism

Sometimes honest mistakes happen, and students skip over sources or fail to meet citation requirements. They had every intention of including this information but forgot about it entirely before turning in the assignment.

One-to-One Copy

While some forms of plagiarism may be unintentional, a direct copy of someone else's work is breaking the rules. Entire pages, sections or a whole paper can be plagiarized in this form.

Paraphrasing Without Citation

Paraphrasing exists on a spectrum, from swapping words to avoid plagiarism detectors to using someone else's ideas as the basis for the paper. This behavior falls into a gray area in some cases, but other situations are clearly plagiarism.

Patch Writing

Students scatter stolen text from multiple sources, patching them into the existing piece. They use this method to try and trick anti-plagiarism measures from detecting matches.

Why You Need to Educate Students About Plagiarism

What is and is not plagiarism may not be clear-cut to your students. They might believe only direct copying counts, which leaves them at risk to lose out completing their diploma or degree. Cheating students develop negative behavior patterns and may also encourage other students to plagiarize.

When your cheating students leave school and enter the workforce, they may normalize these actions and look for other unethical ways to cut corners. While in an educational l environment, you have an excellent opportunity to intervene and set the students back on an ethical track.

Additionally, copying someone else's work does not require critical thinking or creativity, so students who plagiarize  fail to take advantage of the opportunity to build these two characteristics. Lacking these critical skills may put students at a disadvantage in the workplace in the long term.

How You Can Provide Plagiarism Education

Start by teaching your students the correct way to cite information. Students may not understand how to properly cite their work, but will correct their mistakes with the proper lessons and guidance. Grade-appropriate information on copyright law and how it intersects with referencing is another important aspect of plagiarism education.

Educators should also explain the potential consequences of plagiarism, and provide many thorough examples of the different types. If you have the resources available, offer plagiarism checker software and online services to help your students discover potential problems in their writing. They will learn how to correct these issues and avoid them in the future.

Finally, do not turn a blind eye to the problem of plagiarism in the classroom. Students can face immediate consequences such as suspension or expulsion, and  in the long-term might not develop full critical thinking skills or the ability to follow an ethical code. Do your part to provide students with the resources they need for healthy academic development.

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Topics: Public & Private High Schools, Colleges & Career Schools

 

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