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Addressing & Preventing Plagiarism in the Classroom

Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

In this lesson, we will define plagiarism, discuss common reasons for students plagiarizing or being tempted to plagiarizing, writing problems that may lead to plagiarism, and tips for teachers to minimize plagiarism in the classroom.

Defining Plagiarism

Most of us know that plagiarism consists of copying someone else's work directly, but did you know that plagiarism encompasses other things as well? For example, it's not just about copying someone's work. If someone paraphrases, summarizes, or quotes information and fails to properly cite, or give credit for the work, that is also plagiarism. In addition, plagiarism can be either intentional or unintentional, but either way, it's still plagiarism, and the same penalties apply whether the writer is aware of what he's doing or not. Furthermore, even copying just three words in a row from another person's work is considered plagiarism. Yep, just three words. In this lesson, we will discuss the reasons why a student may plagiarize, discuss common writing problems that students have that can lead to plagiarism, and we will also provide tips for you to minimize instances of plagiarism in your class.

Why Would Someone Do That?

Good question. And believe it or not, the most common answer is that the student just doesn't know any better. Many students, even those in a college or university setting, honestly don't know that you can't copy someone else's work. It is very common for students to believe that as long as they cite the work, that using the author's exact words is okay. You wouldn't believe how much this happens.

Another reason that a student might plagiarize is because he or she has never been taught how to paraphrase or summarize somebody else's words. It is easy for teachers to tell students not to copy an author's work, but how many of us actually take the time to teach paraphrasing and summarizing to our students?

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