Last week I wrote about the need to support students with academic honesty in their studies and explained some of the reasons why students may engage in academic malpractice.
Solely having a rulebook, punitive approach to dealing with academic malpractice is not supportive of students in developing the important habits associated with academic honesty.
School leaders must encourage and support teachers to work with students in developing good study habits that promote academic honesty that will serve them well not only at school but also at university and life beyond.
Below are some of the educational practices teachers may engage in to support students in producing their own authentic work for assessment:
- In supervising student assessment tasks, teachers provide students with feedback at various stages and in various forms to minimise the opportunity for plagiarism. For instance, longer assignments, such as projects and Extended Essays, may have several intermediate deadlines. The monitoring of progress at each stage will help teachers ensure that the final product represents the students’ own work.
- Teachers may closely monitor what students are doing, talk to them about what they are working on, and giving advice based upon their observations. This not only helps students learn, but also reveals the potential for plagiarism before it actually occurs.
- Teachers may set tasks that assess the oral or written progress of students within the classroom, studio, or laboratory.
- Teachers regularly develop new tests, assignments, and projects to replace ones from prior years.
- Teachers work together to maintain deadlines for assignments and keep submitted work secure.
- Teachers use a wide variety of assessment items: formal and informal, short tests, examinations, essays under supervision, fieldwork, practical or laboratory activities, research, and oral presentations to thoughtfully balance assessment and to provide a means for detecting discrepancies in student performance that may be associated with academic malpractice.
- Teachers advise students of potential plagiarism or poor referencing during the drafting stages of their work. We also have a teacher librarian who can support students with appropriate referencing their work.
- Teachers may set tasks that encourage students to use a variety of source materials (including primary data), minimising direct quotations, and referencing all ideas and sources appropriately.
- Teachers may set tasks that encourage student reflection and analysis of information rather than fact or information gathering.
- Teachers regularly require students to submit work through Turnitin, which checks for plagiarism. Please note that Turnitin is not foolproof and that teachers can best determine whether a student’s work is indeed authentic. There are other plagiarism checking solutions available.
We can see from the above that the teacher is largely responsible for supporting students with developing good habits in order to practice academic honesty. Having plagiarism checking software is not enough on its own and is a easy way out for teachers who are not committed to putting in the extra mileage to supporting students with the core habits that produce authentic and academically honest work.