As an instructor, there are certain key things you can do to prevent or deter plagiarism from your class. Here, we share five strategies to help you guide your students away from plagiarism.
- Be specific about your assignment: Tell them what needs to be done and what you are expecting out of the assignment. If it is a group assignment, clearly mark out roles and sub-groups with specific responsibilities. Tell them what kind of research you would need them to do and how you will be going to verify it from their work. For example, would you need three experts to be cited, or a local expert to be interviewed? Outline how they can ask for feedback and discuss their work with you.
- Encourage them to choose their topics: Give your students specific topics that they can choose from for their assignment. If they can choose something they are confident about and interested in, chances are that they will not plagiarize. When you give the students freedom to select their interested topics, there are fewer chances of copying and reusing someone’s work. If your students can come up with their own suggestions, encourage them to put together a list for the class.
- Mark the steps: Break up the assignment into a series of steps so that students are able to plan their work and manage their time better. If possible, ask students for specific progress on interim dates that you agree with them beforehand. For example, ask for a rough outline within one week of the assignment, perhaps a discussion on the draft a week before the due date. This will not only keep communication channels open but also help in feedback and review.
- Turn on the spotlight: Ask students to make an oral presentation of their work before the class. Communicate this requirement right at the beginning of the assignment. Knowing that they will have an interactive session at the end will help deter any temptation to plagiarize.
- Capture lessons learnt: On the day of submission, ask the students to capture what they have done and what they have learnt during the process in a short essay they can give you a brief summary. This will not only help students reflect on their study support skills but also give you an opportunity to compare their writing skills to what has been submitted. Ask them to name sources that influenced them the most and where they came across them. This will help detect sources that have been unintentionally omitted from the work.
However, the greatest deterrent to plagiarism is awareness and education. If you are able to convey to students that plagiarism is a combination of stealing and lying, and how they should handle sources responsibly, it will help students do their part in keeping the work clean and honest.