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Plagiarism. George Siemens. What is plagiarism?. Is it the same as it used to be? The move from information scarcity to abundance creates a new climate Do we want students to collaborate and work together? What are new guidelines?. Definition.

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George Siemens

what is plagiarism
What is plagiarism?
  • Is it the same as it used to be?
  • The move from information scarcity to abundance creates a new climate
  • Do we want students to collaborate and work together?
  • What are new guidelines?
  • “the act of passing off as one's own the ideas or writings of another."
types and gradients
Types and gradients


  • Accidental
  • Semi-aware
  • Intentional


  • Limited
  • Moderate
  • Significant
how has it changed
How has it changed?
  • Prevalence
  • Sophistication
  • 80% of college students have cheated
  • 54% of college students admit to plagiarizing from internet
  • 47% say instructors ignore known issues of cheating
  • 55% of instructors say they wouldn’t be willing to devote real time to document suspected plagiarism
the new plagiarism
The new plagiarism
  • “The New Plagiarism requires little effort and is geometrically more powerful. While the pre-modem student might misappropriate a dozen ideas from a handful of thinkers, the post-modem student can download and save hundreds of pages per hour. We have moved from the horse and buggy days of plagiarism to the Space Age without stopping for the horse less carriage.”
why the change
Why the change?
  • Ethics
  • Outdated definition of plagiarism (new tools for collaboration, old views of “do it yourself”)
  • Internet
  • Mobile devices
  • “rip, mix, burn” culture
  • The stakes of academic success
  • Open, searchable, and findable information (Google, Yahoo)
  • Paper-mills – professional plagiarism
  • Co-creation is a concern
  • How do we define individual contributions when society increasingly values collaborative work efforts?
it s not just students
It’s not just students…
  • Academics, research, authors
  • Claiming work as own, or using without appropriate acknowledgement, are forms of plagiarism, academic dishonesty, or (at minimum) ethical lapses
  • “With their arsenal of electronic gadgets, students these days find it easier to cheat. And so, faced with an array of inventive techniques in recent years, college officials find themselves in a new game of cat and mouse, trying to outwit would-be cheats this exam season with a range of strategies — cutting off Internet access from laptops, demanding the surrender of cellphones before tests or simply requiring that exams be taken the old-fashioned way, with pens and paper.”
options as educators
Options as educators
  • Policing
  • Redesigning learning activities and assessment model
  • Turnitin
  • iThenticate
current views
Current Views

“Digital plagiarizing calls for digital policing.

Such is the philosophy behind a wave of anti-plagiarism digital software that colleges are using to deal with the widespread use of essay-writing Web sites and online databases of pre-written papers, and to uncover writing copied from other students' work.”

USA Today, May 25, 2006

policing drawbacks
Policing drawbacks
  • Expensive (software)
  • Emotional costs (time invested research plagiarism, dealing with incidents)
  • Additional work for instructors
  • Culture of distrust
  • Core problem not addressed: assessment at a higher level (authentic)
  • Clarify what plagiarism means
  • Embed as strand through all courses/programs
  • Redesign assessment models
  • Start seeing assessment as a learning tool, not only evaluation of learning
assisting students in avoiding plagiarism
Assisting students in avoiding plagiarism
  • Detail appropriate collaboration
  • Communicate paraphrasing, quotations, acknowledgement, common knowledge
  • Sourcing ideas (note taking)
specific changes
Specific changes
  • Request reflective journals
  • Ask for outline, draft, and final
  • Mark for process, not only product
  • Pursue authentic assessment techniques
  • Peer assessment
  • Move to advanced levels of evaluation
  • Multi-pronged

Changes in assessment require time to develop

  • Alternative assessment takes extra time (interviewing 100 students vs. a computerized multiple choice test)
  • What we define as plagiarism says more about us as educators than it does about our students
    • New models of evaluation
    • New views of collaboration and co-creation
      • Focus on what the individual learner learns through collaborative work
the issues
The issues
  • Plagiarism is a teaching, learning, and assessment issue
    • Too often cast as only learning
  • Teaching and assessment are in our hands
  • Time required for authentic assessment
levels of learning
Levels of learning
  • Bloom, Fink, and others – tiered levels of knowing (each impacted by emotions, motivation, context)
  • Basic
    • Knowledge, facts, basic elements of a field, awareness
  • Intermediate
    • Application, analysis, involvement, human/social elements, pattern recognition
  • Advanced
    • Synthesis, complex thinking, metacognition, multi-perspective, evaluation, meaning recognition
  • T/F, multiple choice, short answer, etc. target basic learning levels
  • Completion, essay, interviews, short answer, presentation, etc. target intermediate learning levels
  • Interviews, essay, self-assessment, journal, performance, debate, portfolios etc. target advanced learning levels