Are you getting tired of reading identical assignments from your students? There is a name to it - plagiarism.
Plagiarism comes in many forms:
Plagiarism of text, aka borrowing without attribution
Students take text as it is and paste it in their papers without giving credit to the initial author.
Taking text and slightly modifying it: moving words around in the sentence, substituting words with synonyms, basic paraphrasing.
Combining phrases from several resources and putting them together in a sentence or a paragraph.
Also known as recycling - submitting same assignment for several classes.
Collusion, aka contract help
Having another person write a paper for you.
All these actions lead to the same result - paper is plagiarized and students missed their chance to actually learn new information.
Written assignments is a vital part of an education, since it gives a chance to make a deep research, analyse sources, write paper based on all the findings and ones personal analysis of the topic. This constitutes valuable knowledge that actually helps students succeed in a future career.
How can teachers help students write better and master writing skills?
1) Give interesting and meaningful assignments.
Students usually cheat on the assignments that they think are pointless. On the other hand, assignments that are exciting, create a whole lot of discussion and interest among students. Help students understand what is the reason for the assignment and why it is important to do it.
2) Come up with a new approach to the topic
If you don’t want to read first five search results in Google in all of the papers you have to grade, change the typical topic to something more personal or controversial.
3) Allow resubmission
Students learn when they are allowed to correct themselves. Giving a feedback and actually working with it, makes a lot of difference. Let students read your comments and improve their writing.
4) Check for plagiarism
Checking for similarity is definitely on the list. It is important that not only students do not copy from the Internet, but also that they do not copy from each other.
Checking for plagiarism has to be a constant and continued process.
Students tend to be more motivated to write original papers when they are absolutely sure, each and every paper is scanned. Also, students highly respond to justice, so all students’ papers should be checked. Do not skip your “best in class”, as this sends a wrong message to the rest of your students.
Plagiarism detection tool should be integrated into your educational process and be easy to use by both teachers and students - be it a Learning Management System your school is using or hard copy submissions.
PlagiarismCheck.org team has been interviewing teaches in schools on all six continents (penguins in Antarctica luckily do not plagiarise) to built a solution that would meet and exceed school’s needs. What they got as a result is:
1) Smart similarity search algorithm. It detects: word-to-word match, word rearrangements, word substitutions, poor paraphrasing, changes from passive to active voice and vice versa, hidden symbols.
2) Integrations. There are three smoothless integrations with Google Classroom, Moodle, and Canvas.
3) Institutional account. In case you are not using a LMS or do not wish to integrate, they have it covered. You are able to create accounts for all of your members with corresponding roles and levels of access: owner, teacher and student.
4) Intuitive interface. Be it within a LMS or as a stand alone solution, the system is really easy to use. Free yourself from piles of technical documentation and start working right away.
5) Price. Ironic how everybody talks about an importance of a quality education and it still gets under budgeted.
Excellent writing skills do not come easily. It is a lot of work for teachers and students. However, with due effort you can help your students master academic writing, provide credit to authors, correctly paraphrase text and, last but not the least, save your time grading.
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