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Preventing plagiarism starts with people

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In its first public event since joining Turnitin, Ouriginal shared the stage at the European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism in a panel entitled “New challenges in plagiarism detection”.

The common thread throughout the conversation was that the key to preventing plagiarism and encouraging academic integrity is through positive student-teacher relationships. This comes as no surprise as teaching and learning are very human and relational elements. 

However, pandemic lockdowns disconnected students and teachers. How can educators recover from more than two years of lost time to rebuild these relationships? Here are some tips from the panel:

Prioritize transparency with students.

Show students exactly what goes on in the evaluation process to assist with transparency and building trust. 

Educators can prioritize transparency with students by providing rubrics and checklists as well as a walkthrough of the assistive technologies used during the evaluation process—such as text similarity checkers, grammar tools, productivity tools, and content organizers. This provides context and a clear roadmap to students on how to succeed. 

Detail and define academic integrity and academic misconduct. 

Many cases of academic misconduct are unintentional, resulting from a misunderstanding. When institutions detail and define expectations from the beginning, unintentional misconduct is easier to address.

Outline how misconduct will be addressed. 

The solution should focus on knowledge and skills building, rather than reprimanding. Sharing this information may help reduce anxiety about “getting it wrong” and encourage students to be more comfortable in asking questions.

How can education technology companies support educators in rebuilding these relationships?

Prioritize transparency with customers and the industry.

Companies should involve accessibility and inclusion in product design, not as an afterthought. 

This means accounting for audio, visual, and kinetic learners as well as, maybe most importantly, making technology available in and tailored to students’ native languages and cultural backgrounds. Edtech companies must truly listen to customer needs, implement that feedback and, whenever possible, involve users in product development.

Provide quality, personalized training on edtech tools to both educators and students.

Edtech is an assistive tool that does not, and should not, replace human decision making or pedagogy. With proper onboarding and strong company-client relationships, educators and students can unburden some of the administrative tasks involved with teaching and learning—such as manually checking each sentence of a paper for text similarities with existing content—to free up more time for real student-teacher conversations. 

Partner with edtech to combat essay mills. 

The cheating landscape is far more predatory and advanced than ever before. It is unsustainable to combat essay mills in silos. Edtech providers and institutions need to join forces and share insights and resources to support educators with the absolute best, most innovative tools that help uphold academic integrity. 

Access guides for academic integrity and original work and learn about the evolution and spectrum of 12 different types of plagiarism.


This article was originally published in the European Network for Academic Integrity newsletter on 16 June 2022.

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