Plagiarism by Adult Learners Online: A case study in detection and remediation
Keywords:Plagiarism, academic integrity, cheating, online, e-learning, adult education
AbstractDetecting and combating plagiarism from Web-based sources is a concern for administrators and instructors involved in online distance education. In this paper, we quantify copy-and-paste plagiarism among adult learners in an online geography course offered through Penn State's World Campus Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate program. We also evaluate the effectiveness of an "expectation management" strategy intended to discourage adult learners from unintentional violations. We found that while manual methods detected plagiarism in only about 3 percent of assignments, Turnitin.com revealed a 13 percent plagiarism rate among the same assignments. Our attempts to increase awareness and manage expectations decreased infractions measurably, but not significantly. In contrast, Turnitin.com substantially improved our ability to detect infractions. We conclude that raising awareness and managing expectations about plagiarism may be worthwhile, but is no substitute for systematic detection and vigilant enforcement, even among adult learners.
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