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Preventing Plagiarism in Online Learning

Now more than ever, it is important to promote and enforce academic integrity. Online learning has opened doors for many and has changed the way people think about education. Although it has also raised the possibility of plagiarism and academic dishonesty, this should not be a deterrent from online teaching or learning. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has put together a guide called Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education, which contains tips for institutions, professors and students on how to promote academic integrity in an online learning environment. These tips are categorized under Institutional Context and Commitment, Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty Support, Student Support, and Assessment and Instruction.

Here are some especially helpful tips that we have highlighted from the document:

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Where are students getting their plagiarized content?

Campus Technology reported on a study conducted called Plagiarism and the Web: A Comparison of Internet Sources for Secondary and Higher Education Students. The report revealed that Wikipedia was the “top individual source” plagiarized by students in over 33.5 million papers reviewed for the study. Wikipedia showed matching text for 7.99 percent of the plagiarized instances. Yahoo Answers came in second, tagging along behind Wikipedia as the source for 7.55 percent of plagiarized text.

Although Wikipedia came in as the top individual site, encyclopedia sites like Wikipedia weren’t the most plagiarized, as a category. In the study, more than a quarter of the students plagiarized content from “social and content sharing sites” such as Facebook, Yahoo Answers, and SlideShare. Second in popularity were “homework and academic sites” (nih.gov, medialibrary.org, etc.). Third were “cheat sites and paper mills”, sites where students pay for pre-written content. Fourth were online news and media sources. At number five finally came encyclopedia sites like Wikipedia, Britannica Online and Encyclopedia.com.

Academic integrity is extremely important to practice in education–especially here in the digital age. Here are some valuable UW Bothell plagiarism resources:

…and some non-UWB resources as well

Preventing Cheating in Distance Education

For professors, one of the big drawbacks of distance learning is the potential for a student to cheat on or plagiarize assignments for the class. Unfortunately, students sometimes feel as though they have more room to cheat in a hybrid or online course, since their professor cannot always physically see them.

The Faculty Assistance Center for Teaching (FACT) at Utah State University has put together the guide How to Prevent Cheating in Distance Education. Meant for instructors, the guide gives helpful tips on how to plan and organize your distance learning class in a way that prevents cheating and promotes learning. Here are some highlights: