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Published February 15, 2010

Colleges and Teachers in the Battle Against Electronic Plagiarism

Barely three years ago, I wrote a report in Profweb about Plagiarism and Other Types of Electronic Cheating. My experiences writing the report enabled me to realize to what degree electronic plagiarism had become a major preoccupation not only within the college network but at all levels of instruction and not only in Quebec!

Wherever I gave a workshop on the subject, participants seemed concerned over the high rate of plagiarism. 91% of teachers have had to deal with plagiarism in their classes. They are concerned that 75% of their students have few or no reservations about copy/pasting text without citing sources. People in my workshops wanted to know how to prevent electronic plagiarism.

A publicity campaign against plagiarism at Collège Ahuntsic

Since then, a significant number of colleges have taken the time to reflect on this problem and take action. Some colleges have put together a working committee composed of teachers, professionals, administrators and even students to look for and establish solutions to prevent and eventually to punish electronic plagiarism. Some colleges have created posters and folders around the issue. Others have organized educational campaigns targeting students and teachers alike. Some colleges have modified their learning evaluation policies and revised the sanctions taken to discourage plagiarism. Teachers have been better prepared to deal with this issue through continuing education activities on the subject and procedures to facilitate detection. Certain colleges have asked their students to sign a non-plagiarism contract and others have subscribed to plagiarism detection services such as Turnitin or Compilatio.

Logo of an information section on plagiarism on the Collège François-Xavier-Garneau site

The InukTIC site is another resource which has become available to the college network. Among its many features, it contains links to various resources to make students aware of proper procedures for citng sources and preventing plagiarism. InukTIC is a response to a need expressed by the youth of Generation C in a CEFRIO survey conducted in 2009. The results of this study revealed that youth wanted to learn more about research tools, respecting copyright and strategies to investigate the validity of information sources. Interestingly, data on electronic plagiarism reveals that the practice is often the result of a lack of information and ignorance over the standards for the correct citation of sources.

Furthermore, the problems associated with plagiarism have obliged teachers to review their own grading strategies. Instead of the traditional report, concept maps and digital portfolios have become de rigueur. Students are being asked to post various aspects of their research such as their notes on the subject, their research objectives and the justification of their opinions as well as drafts of their work at various stages. Furthermore, evaluation strategies which discourage plagiarism have become available such as the digital portfolio which can display projects at various stages of development.

Is plagiarism a topic that concerns you? Have you developed prevention strategies? Have you wondered if plagiarism detection software is an effective solution? Has your college developed antiplagiarism publicity in English similar to the French examples in this column? Share your resources, experiences and concerns with your colleagues by using our Comments feature below!

About the Author

Nicole Perreault She began her college career as a Psychology Teacher and Education Advisor at Collège André-Grasset. She was then the Director of APOP and the CLIC newsletter before becoming an Education Advisor at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit. Since 2005, she is pleased to be the Community Manager for the Réseau des REPTIC (IT Representatives Network) which brings together ICT Education Advisors from across the college network. She has written numerous articles and given many workshops on the pedagogical use of technology. Their integration within the context of student success is a subject that she finds particularly interesting.

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