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The Study Hall

Learning Integrity: Plagiarism

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“Plagiarism” is a loaded term. The careful and sensitive instructor knows the importance of contextualizing a student’s behavior and distinguishing between a lack of academic sophistication and an intent to deceive. 

Whether students are faced with the immense pressure to succeed, are overwhelmed by workload, or come from a culture which defines “appropriate citation” differently, many factors can affect a student’s moral disposition when engaging in online assessments. There are students, for example, who misinterpret the definition of plagiarism completely, causing them to engage in unethical behavior unintentionally.  

As resources become more widely available to students throughout the web, the lines of morality are seemingly blurred. According to Donald L McCabe and the International Center for Academic Integrity, a study conducted between 2006 and 2010 showed that the number of students who believe copying information from the internet is actually considered “serious cheating” declined from 34% the decade prior, to 29%. conducted a study which revealed that 58% of high school students admitted to committing plagiarism. In another study conducted by Rutgers University, 36% of undergraduate students admitted to “paraphrasing/copying a few sentences from the internet and not footnoting it,” while 3% admit to “fully obtaining a paper from a paper mill”–an online resource where students pay for papers that are already written. 

In an effort to help instructors distinguish intent, Proctorio’s plagiarism detection software includes originality verification, manipulation prevention and submission verification features. As a matter of duty, and by implementing plagiarism detection into the assignment verification process, institutions are able to protect the value of their degrees and the integrity of the assignments they issue. 

Originality verification

Above: Proctorio's plagiarism tool inspecting issues found within a document.

Originality Verification helps students avoid plagiarism by confirming the authenticity of their work, while also capturing images, symbols and abnormal characters. This feature also scans submissions for similarities in other documents across the internet. Should another document be identified, Proctorio provides a source link for the instructor to verify the degree of plagiarized material.

The submission verification feature authenticates the student’s identity and requires that they sign a pledge of originality. Requiring this signature reaffirms the institution’s expectations and standards regarding plagiarism and–in turn, encourages the student to participate in academic integrity by pledging originality. 

Another form of plagiarism comes not in written assignments, but from students duplicating answers from existing quiz material that is available online. Web Sweep is a new tool for the Canvas LMS that alerts instructors when quiz questions are at-risk, i.e. accessible by students online.

Web sweep

Above: Proctorio's WebSweep tool detecting a match to a quiz question found online.

Proctorio’s Plagiarism feature is now available within the Canvas LMS and is easy to enable for assignment submissions. Proctorio will be attending InstructureCon in Long Beach, California from July 9 through 11. Visit booth #1 to learn about Plagiarism detection and Proctorio’s Web Sweep technology. Bennet Tchaivosky and Tim Van Norman will be presenting about applying Proctorio in Irvine Valley College classrooms on Thursday July 11 from 2:30- 3:10 in room 104C.