designing integrity: writing assignments that discourage plagiarism faculty workshop august 2015

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Designing Integrity:Writing Assignments that Discourage PlagiarismFaculty WorkshopAugust 2015 Plagiarism Prevention Software:Limitations and Responsibilities

Dr. Susan George SchornUniversity of Texas at AustinSchool of Undergraduate Studies

Detecting PlagiarismResearchers have found that careful human readers can spot 100% of plagiarized material in sample essays (Weber-Wulff).Markers include: unusual formatting and font changes, dated references, anomalies of diction (or Frankenstein style), words the student cannot pronounce or define.Running a word string with 3-5 nouns through Google is the most reliable detection method.What does plagiarism detection software promise?Ensure students are submitting original work.Prevent cheating before it happens.Teach students about plagiarism.Save time.


VeriCite:Create learning moments. Faculty members are always looking to teach. VeriCite helps the instructor to create a learning moment, a chance to discuss the different forms of plagiarism and to understand its impact.What does plagiarism detection software deliver?1. Ensuring original work?Using controlled text samples, Debora Weber-Wulff, Professor of Media and Computing at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, has repeatedly found high rates of both false positives and false negatives in all 15 software products tested.


Results of 2013 software study at UAS-Berlin:

Results of 2007 software performance comparison at UT-Austin:

By the far the best catch rate resulted from submitting word strings with 3-5 nouns to Google.Product:TurnItInSafeAssignGooglePercentage of sources found:60.76%43.4%91.3%How well do plagiarism-detection methods work?2007 test by Susan Schorn, Writing Coordinator, School of Undergraduate Studies

Results of 2015 test of TurnItIn at UT-Austin:

Total SourcesFoundPartially FoundNot Found3715 (40%)6 (16%)16 (44%)

Test Essay 2 consisted of text from six different sources. TurnItIn found four of them. Here, one of the missed sources.14

Source missed by TurnItIn in Test Essay 2 comes up as first result in a Google search using part of one sentence.15Teacher/librarian John Royce even found an example of TurnItIn missing plagiarized text in a sample paper featured on TurnItIns own website:Un-highlighted text from TII Originality Report:

Matching text from online source:

In other words,Plagiarism detection software can indicate the presence of plagiarism, but cannot prove the absence of plagiarism. (Weber-Wulff)Any paper deemed original by such software could in fact contain plagiarism, and some such papers undoubtedly do.2. Preventing cheating before it happens? Because plagiarism-detecting software misses so much replicated text, we must assume some cheating remains undetected. Not only is this cheating not prevented, we cant even discuss it with students, because it is invisible.2. Preventing cheating, cont. But, by promising to prevent plagiarism, plagiarism-detecting software reduces the likelihood that instructors will follow established best practices for preventing plagiarism: Devising assignments that require reflection and meta-learning; Tracking students' progress through drafting and revision; Requiring current, relevant sources. 3. Use as a teaching tool? Because plagiarism-detecting software produces so many false positives and negatives, it cannot accurately teach students what counts as plagiarism. In fact it more often confuses instructors and students alike.3. Use as a teaching tool, cont. The College Conference on Composition and Communication notes that plagiarism detection software1. Casts the student as someone who must be monitored. 2. Shifts the role of the teacher from educating to policing. 3. May create an adversarial classroom climate. 4. Becomes a substitute for conversations about academic integrity that should be central to the educational process.


3. Use as a teaching tool, cont. Of course, allowing students to run multiple drafts through software before submission can teach them how to alter plagiarized text sufficiently to fool the software.4. Saving Time?Students and faculty must learn to use plagiarism detection software. Extra steps are required to create and submit assignments, generate reports, and view those reports.Instructors who rely most heavily on plagiarism detection software often have classes that are too large to permit good writing pedagogy. 4. Saving Time, cont.The Council of Writing Program Administrators cautions that plagiarism detection software should never be used to justify the avoidance of responsible teaching methods:

Explaining plagiarism and developing clear policies (syllabus statements, honor code)Providing well-designed, regularly updated assignmentsTeaching the research process and conventions of genre (which requires time and low instructor/student rations)

24Responsible use of plagiarism detection software requires Understanding the limits of all such software, and the particular limitations of the software you are using. Includinga syllabus statement about the software and its use, including opt-out and appeals processes. Planning ahead for potential technological failures and error.Teaching Conventions of GenreExpectations about citation can differ substantially between disciplines (ex: boilerplate text in business or natural sciences).Even if students have learned citation formats, they often do not understand the reasons for them.

Class ActivitySources: Why Use Them?I use this in Rhetoric classes, but it easily adaptable to any field or topic.Introduce the passages one at a time and ask students their impression of each author, and what questions they have for him/her.Show students how sources strengthen writing.Then, help them master the tools: paraphrase, summarize, quote, etc.ReferencesRoyce, John. Carried Away. Blog post, April 6, 2013, at

Straumsheim, Carl. What is Detected? Inside Higher Ed, July 14, 2015.

Weber-Wulff, Debora. Finding False Feathers - Dealing with Plagiarism. Research Integrity & Responsible Conduct of Research, Aarhus University, Denmark, April 17, 2013.

Academic Integrity: Policies and Prevention

Office of the Dean of StudentsStudent Judicial Services

Why do students cheat?Bad student vs. Good studentPressureBad HabitsUnprepared for collegeUnaware of expectationsEveryone else is doing it

Why do students cheat?Cheating is contagious.- Don Rettinger (May 2009) Research in Higher EducationDirect knowledge of others cheating was the biggest predictor of cheating

The Locked Door Analogy- Why We Lie (May 2012) Wall Street Journal1% of people will be dishonest, try to pick a lock and steal1% of people will be honest and never steal 98% of people might be tempted to steal if a door has no lock

Preventing CheatingStudent Honor Code

As a student at the University of Texas at Austin, I shall abide by the core values and uphold academic integrity

Preventing CheatingConsistencyHow is Academic Integrity discussed in the syllabus and assignment expectations?Is it revisited throughout the semester?How does Academic Integrity relate to subject? Be a Broken Record- TAs and Professors sending the same message Novotney, A. (2011) Beat the Cheat. American Psychological Association, 42 (6), page 54

Preventing CheatingLow- Tech Solutions Emphasize Academic Integrity, examples of unacceptable behavior, and potential consequences. (Novotney, 2011)

Have students read and/or sign the Honor Code. (Novotney, 2011)

Theres also evidence that focusing on honest, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility and promoting practices such as effective honor codes can make a significant difference in student behaviors, attitudes and beliefs. In a student completed at Harvard, Lisa Shu studied the morality of cheating and found that participants who passively read a generic honor code before taking a test were less likely to cheat on the test, though it didnt completely curb cheating.34

Preventing CheatingDont Assume students know citation expectations and required style (MLA, APA, Chicago Style)Can students look at old papers?Is the draft for credit?Purdue Owl - Avoiding Plagiarism have developed a writing styleIDEA: Require multiple submissions of written assignments

Addressing Academic DishonestyDocument the situation with as much detail as possible.

Two options to resolve: Faculty Disposition or Disciplinary Referral

Meeting with the Student (Optional)Ask student to meet with you in your officeMeeting with studentAsk student if they know why they are thereShow the student the evidenceAsk the student what happenedAddress the action, not the personWere the students actions intentional or due to a lack of understanding/training?Good students make bad choicesLearning moment for the student

Meeting with the Student (Optional)Walk through the faculty disposition and students rightsIf applicable, sign the faculty disposition with the student and forward paperwork to SJSIf student does not respond to you or requests for SJS to review the case, forward evidence to our office

Resources:SJS: SSB 4.104, 512-471-2841Student Ombuds: SSB G1.404, 512-471-3825

Resolution by SJSStudent meets with the SJS administrator

The SJS administrator determines if the evidence supports a finding o

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