Strategies for Decreasing Plagiarism and Cheating

The following passage about plagiarism and cheating was taken from DL’s course in development,  Best Practices for Online Courses:

Instructors are frequently concerned about cheating and plagiarism when developing course activities. This is another good reason to provide a variety of assessment types in your course. If your entire assessment relies on a series of multiple choice quizzes, expect that copies exist. There is no surefire way to prevent copying of a quiz so your best defense is to create assessments where cheating and plagiarism are difficult to carry out.

Papers can also be obtained through paper mills, former students, etc. This is especially true for general topics and for assignments that have been used many times. This is where we will start discussing specific ways to minimize cheating and plagiarism.

First, clearly state your college’s academic dishonesty policy in the syllabus. The CFCC Academic Dishonesty policy can be viewed in the Student Handbook section of the CFCC Course Catalog. Students should know what constitutes plagiarism and cheating and that they are taken seriously. You might include a question about this topic in your course’s icebreaker assignment. Also, sometimes students plagiarize because they do not know how to properly pararphrase or cite sources. Make sure you provide students with writing resources. For example, if you require that students submit essays with APA Style formatting, provide them with links to the current APA Style Manual or online tutorials.

In addition to stating your school’s policy and offering writing guidance, there are a number of things you can do when designing activities to decrease the possibility of cheating and plagiarism. Below are some suggestions to help you create such activities:

  • Recent references:
    Require that at least some references not be more than a year or two old or tie in the assignment to current events.
  • Specific references:
    Require that students use some references from specific sources, such as resources used in the course or articles from the school library.
  • Submit work in stages:
    When assigning large projects or papers, consider having students submit this in stages. For instance, you might have students first submit a summary or outline of their project, then a rough draft that will be revised before submitting a final product.
  • Personal:
    Make at least part of the assignment personal by including a component such as an interview, personal experience, etc. or use project-based assignments. Adding a personal component to assignments will also motivate students.
  • Presentations:
    Require that students present their paper or project and defend their position, design, etc. Presentations can be conducted by using presentation software (such as PowerPoint with or without audio) or other multimedia applications such as Camtasia or Screencast-O-Matic. Discussion about presentations can be conducted in the discussion forum of the course.

You can learn more about these strategies and others by reading Arthur Sterngold’s article, “Confronting Plagiarism: How Conventional Teaching Invites Cyber-Cheating”, available through NCLIVE.