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How to Prevent Plagiarism?How do we teach kids not to plagiarize?  I have said it a...

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asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 12:36 PM via web

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How to Prevent Plagiarism?

How do we teach kids not to plagiarize?  I have said it a thousand times - you have to cite your work, but some kids just don't get it.  They think switching a few words around is okay.

Recently I saw a teacher workshop advertised that was about using blogging to prevent plagiarism.  Not sure how that would work, but I thought it was really interesting. 

Any ideas?

By the way, Jamie, THANK YOU for starting this topic. This is a subject I'm always ticked off about!

15 Answers | Add Yours

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:27 PM (Answer #2)

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We just bought a subscription to www.turnitin.com.  Fantastic!  I have my students submit their papers to this site before they hand them in for a grade.  This site shows them what has been plaqiarized so they can fix it before it's graded.  I like it because the students who genuinely don't want to cheat have another check before giving me their papers.  The students who just flat out copied their papers in the first place usually don't bother to change anything.  This site provides a % of the paper that's plagiarized; I usually allow 10% or so depending on what was plagiarized and how.

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:29 PM (Answer #3)

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The best tool I've found to prevent plagiarism, and maybe it's already been mentioned here, is Turnitin.com.  We began using this program on a limited basis three years ago and we now have an all-building license.  The program helps students see when they haven't paraphrased properly because it shows them how simply changing a word or two in someone else's text doesn't make it theirs.  The program underlines exact phrasing and phrases that are only different by a couple words.  Our students have learned quickly that if they copy and paste, we will know about it.  Unfortunately though, my problem as administrator, is getting the other teachers, especially those who don't teach language arts, to use the program.

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:32 PM (Answer #4)

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Apparently we were writing at the same time, mrerick.  As you can see from my post, I'm a fan of Turnitin, too.  I also allow a certain percent of similarity because sometimes there is simply a common way of wording something plus I've found that Turnitin does not allow for quotes even if properly cited.

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asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:36 PM (Answer #5)

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Is this sold on a per school basis or per student?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:39 PM (Answer #6)

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Turnitin is sold on either a per student basis or a class basis.  When we had a class basis, we were limited on the number of submissions our students could make, now we are unlimited on the number of submissions.  It's not a cheap program but it is very good.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:40 PM (Answer #7)

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There are several different ways you can buy it.  Sounds like luannw buys the building license which is more expensive but can be used for every student in every class.  I'm the only one here that uses it so we bought the classroom license which allows 100 students to post up to 100 papers throughout the school year - more than enough for me.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:41 PM (Answer #8)

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Luannw - one of us may have an echo!

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 4, 2008 at 5:28 PM (Answer #9)

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The first thing we have to do in addressing plagiarism is to realize that while some of this is cheating, intentional, and even malicious, some other portion is a cultural and generational change.  These students grew up in a period when copying songs and movies was common place, and in the presence of continually forwarded email jokes. A large portion of their cultural lives is built upon easy copying, and this must be addressed.

Greg

 

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 4, 2008 at 5:28 PM (Answer #10)

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The first thing we have to do in addressing plagiarism is to realize that while some of this is cheating, intentional, and even malicious, some other portion is a cultural and generational change.  These students grew up in a period when copying songs and movies was common place, and in the presence of continually forwarded email jokes. A large portion of their cultural lives is built upon easy copying, and this must be addressed.

Greg

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asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 4, 2008 at 7:52 PM (Answer #11)

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Greg,

I agree.  Some kids don't get that it's wrong.  How do we teach them otherwise without beating them over the head with it?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 5, 2008 at 10:30 AM (Answer #12)

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On teaching them that its wrong - consistency is my only answer.  Reward them for original work and original ideas, provide plenty of connections between plagiarism and stealing, and go ahead and beat them over the head. 

On helping to prevent it, though, I've found that the more original the assignment, the less chance for them to find easy answers.  Asking for connections between literary works, modern examples, and unexpected approaches to the literature will make their own google searches more difficult.

One of my most successful research assignments is for "Waiting for Godot".  Students have to choose a time period in which to set the play, provide literary and historical evidence to support their choice, and explain the set direction that will demonstrate the time period.  This cross-curricular assignment does not have an easily researched answer, prompting the students to begin with their own ideas.  Once they've begun that way, they are more likely to continue so.

 

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 6, 2008 at 1:21 PM (Answer #13)

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This may seem obvious, but I thought it worth mentioning - If at all possible, rewrite reading, quiz, and test questions each year, and avoid using ones available on-line.  At one point, early in my life as a teacher, I thought, "Wow, these on-line sources are super for helping me come up with questions!"  Yes, they are...but anything I can get to, more than likely, the students can get to as well.

Although that has more to do with cheating than plagiarism, the idea is still the same - thwart the little rascals whenever and wherever possible! :)

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mvmaurno | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 6, 2008 at 6:45 PM (Answer #14)

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I personally try to create questions and topics that are so off the beaten path from the usual assortment that it would be just about impossible for a student to find a response anywhere but in there head.  Sometimes, however, it can be extremely difficult to come up iwth something quite that original. 

One other strategy I use is to train the kids in how to paraphrase appropriately and cite sources in conjunction with this.  When I have "caught" students in these activities (especially the younger students), I'm often pretty convinced that they didn't intend to plagiarise.

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 6, 2008 at 8:51 PM (Answer #15)

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Turnitin.com is awesome! It works great and students simply cannot plagiarize, but I hate that we have to resort to a computer program designed to catch kids copying. I wish that there was some way that we could get kids not to plagiarize without resorting to such drastic measures. I was always scared to death to copy someone else's work when I was in school, I took the teachers' warnings seriously.

I asked my husband what he thought and he said that he never plagiarized in college because he had to use turnitin.com, but he admitted that he would have done it if the program was non-existent or not required. I was disappointed because I always worked so hard, but he said he would have done it because it would have been easier and paper writing was always extremely stressful for him. Interesting, I wonder if there were some way to reduce the stress of writing papers, if we could get students to cite their work and quit plagiarizing all on their own.

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jamie-wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted January 10, 2008 at 7:32 AM (Answer #16)

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There was a fantastic commentary by writer Tom Dodge on our local NPR station this morning regarding plagiarism.  Here is an excerpt and a link.  Do read the whole thing (or listen, I believe there' s a button for that as well):

"As a freshman college student, I didn't footnote any of the ideas I put into my critique of a Shakespeare play. My professor knew it, as professors always do, and wrote the following on my paper: "You have skillfully summarized these critics' ideas and passed them off as your own. They have worked hard over many years to earn their critical reputations. You, on the other hand, have earned only an F."

Instead of ruining my literary life, he saved it by teaching me that writing is an act of creation. It is like a work of art that represents the writer. Good or bad, pass or fail, it is unique. The most important test of its success is whether or not it is honest."

http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kera/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1209203

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