Sunday, February 15, 2015

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

Plagiarism and cheating has been an issue in the educational field for decades. As a child growing up, I can remember countless times where students cheated on tests and quizzes to get the best grade. This popular form of academic dishonesty was the best way for students, who did not put forth time and effort to study, to achieve high scores and recognition. If we fast-forward to today, the problem is that plagiarism and cheating has morphed thanks to the Internet. For this week’s discussion, I have been asked to provide my thoughts on the following four questions regarding plagiarism and cheating:

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

There are several online tools that detect plagiarism and provide accurate results. “Free online search engines such as Google allow instructors to track down copied phrases, while commercially available plagiarism detection software and online services (e.g., EVE, compare individual student papers to Web documents and/or essay databases to find and report instances of matching text” (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006, p. 5). I am most familiar with Turnitin as I have used this tool with Walden University and the University of Phoenix. From a student’s perspective, Turnitin is user-friendly and appears to provide accurate data.

How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

In the video, Plagiarism and cheating, Dr. Pratt states that he designs assessments that mirror real-life situations and encourage collaboration. I think this is a great way to prevent academic dishonesty in students because it removes the pressure and anxiety to single-handedly succeed. It is extremely difficult to succeed alone. Every success story I’ve heard started with the successor acknowledging another individual for their contributions. We live in a collaborative environment and many businesses are designing their offices to have collaborative workspace, so why not design assessments that mirror the real world. In doing so, you design assessments that allow learners to leverage other individuals and tools.

What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

 As an online instructor, I feel that it is important to be clear and specific about expectations. This includes providing learners with a detailed explanation of what constitutes plagiarism and cheating, as well as communicating the consequences of both. A few examples would also be helpful. I’ve also found that giving learners different assignments or using case studies can prevent plagiarism. In doing this, the learner relies on their words and thoughts to complete the assignment.

What additional considerations for online teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

In the video, Plagiarism and cheating, Dr. Palloff states that many learners do not consider copying and pasting material from websites to paper as plagiarism or cheating. With this in mind, it is safe to say that most learners do not know they are being academically dishonest with their actions. The instructor will need to establish how they will deal with plagiarism and cheating and be consistent. For example, if a student is a first-time offender, a warning will suffice. However, if the student is a repeat offender, severe actions will have to be taken.


Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete database.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from

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