Preventing Plagiarism in the Online Classroom

Plagiarism in the online classroom has become an extreme problem due to the endless amount of information available on the internet as well as the fact that most students do not have any face-to-face interaction with the instructor or classmates. Instructors have to be aware and prepared for preventing plagiarism from occurring as well as detecting it when it does. “Watson and Sottile (2010) have reported that cheating online can manifest in a number of ways including students who: (1) submit others’ work as their own, (2) receive/send answers from/to other students (by texting, using instant messaging, talking on a phone) while taking a test or quiz, (3) receive answers from a student who has already taken a test or quiz, (4) copy other students’ work without permission, (5) knowingly plagiarize from an article or book, or (6) use a term paper writing service” (Cabrera, 2013).

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

There are several different types of software available for instructors to utilize in order to detect and prevent plagiarism in the online classroom. Anti-Plagiarism, DupliChecker, PaperRater and Plagiarismchecker are a few of the plagiarism software detectors available to instructors to ensure that the students are not copying information from the internet. “As it is shown by the growing educational concerns, plagiarism has now become an integral part of our digital lives as technology, with the billions of information it gives us access to, led to the exacerbation of this phenomenon” (Pappas, 2013). Unfortunately due to the fact that it is so easy to copy information, from the internet, it is important for online instructors to have the resources to detect it and prevent it from happening.

How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

There are many steps that instructors can take to limit plagiarism from occurring through the design of the assessments. One way that can help reduce the problem is by assigning group assignments. “For a project to be truly collaborative, each group member should be familiar with everyone else’s work, and be able to describe how every group members’ contribution supports the whole group assignment. Students who are using the work of others may not be able to adequately describe the significance of their ‘own’ work, or how it integrates with the group’s overall project” (Cabrera, 2013). A student would have a much more difficult time explaining someone else’s work opposed to his or her own work as it applies to the group assignment. Instructors can also provide a mix of subjective and objective questions on assessments so that the student is not just answering multiple choice questions but is having to explain his or her thinking. Using objective assessments makes it much easier for students to cheat opposed to subjective questions where they are having to explain the reason and show their understanding of the goals and objectives.

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

The facilitation strategies I propose to use as a future online instructor to decrease plagiarism are objective questioning, group projects, assigning projects that require presentations, discussion questions as well as having students submit a plagiarism form.  Presentations encourage students to go deeper than answering objective questions and can also provide hands on experience that would not be applicable in multiple choice or true and false questioning. “To further scrutinize work on the presentation, students may be asked to include time for questions and answers. Students who have developed the presentation should be comfortable answering a range of topic-related questions” (Cabrera, 2013).

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

An instructor should take the stand point that plagiarism and cheating will occur and take measures to prevent it before is does. In the event that it does, a plagiarism software detector should be in place so that the instructor can stop it right away. Often times, allowing the students to choose his or her topic for an assignment or project will help decrease the chances of cheating and/or plagiarism from occurring. In this respect, the student has a level of interest and will more than likely take the time to produce his or her own work. ”



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  1. Krista,

    Great post! I agree with you that cheating and plagiarism has become more rampant now than it has in the past “as many as 72% of students admitted to one or more instances of serious cheating on a test or examination (Kraus, 2002), up from 39% on the same campuses in 1963 (Bowers, 1964).”( Brown, V., Jordan, R., Rubin, N., & Arome, G, 2010, p. 113). The fact of the matter is that we all need to prepare for a student to cheat in our courses. I like your idea of using subjective questions so that a student cannot cheat. My own suggestion would be to follow what Dr. Pratt states “the way I design every assignment, every project, and every exam, to where I do not care if they cheat or not” (Laureate). Instead of worrying if the student will cheat make an assessment or assignment where it does not matter if they do or do not cheat. Brown, V., Jordan, R., Rubin, N., & Arome, G. (2010) agree with this idea by stating “One method is to use authentic assessment, which involves the students in the learning process and reflection” (p. 114). I like this idea that instead of trying to stop cheating or find it we rather just say go ahead and create assignments and assessments that will adequately determine a student’s understanding of the material with or without cheating. Krista, would you ever use this system of “free to cheat” assessments and assignments? Why or why not? Also do you feel that cheating is always due to the student acting nefariously? Why or why not?

    Brown, V., Jordan, R., Rubin, N., & Arome, G. (2010). Strengths and Weaknesses of Plagiarism Detection Software. Journal Of Literacy & Technology, 11(1/2), 110-131.

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

  2. This is a fantastic post Krista! I love your idea of a group assessment and making them work together so that they have to collaborate and work on their own pieces. This is a great plagiarism checker because not everyone will ever be ok with someone cheating on their portion especially if they worked really hard doing theirs right.

    Good call

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