With knowledge at their fingertips online, as well as hundreds of essay writing services, college students are often tempted to plagiarize. Teachers need to educate their students on the dangers of plagiarism to their college education, their integrity, and their future careers. Teachers also need to inform students that they can easily check for plagiarism with plagiarism detector tools. Consider some of these topics when working on curriculum development.

Role of the instructor

The instructor plays an important role in informing and preventing students from engaging in plagiarism. “By teaching students about plagiarism, and by reinforcing their knowledge of appropriate research skills, you’ll also reduce the number of incidences of plagiarism in your course,” wrote Tami Strang in “Anti-Plagiarism Instruction in College Courses,” posted in Cengage Learning’s Engaging Minds blog, September 14, 2015. Teachers can explain that plagiarism:

  • Hinders academic achievement and advancement
  • Reduces ability of students to learn proper research and citation
  • Reduces students’ respect for learning and academia
  • Harms students’ reputation and integrity
  • Leaves a stain on students’ academic records
  • Reduces future career opportunities

Plagiarism affects integrity

Young adults don’t often think far enough ahead to consider how dishonesty, cheating, and plagiarism will affect their future reputation. They don’t see how plagiarism can damage their career opportunities. That’s why it’s imperative that teachers convince students that plagiarism is harmful and that the willingness to cheat is a reflection of their integrity.

In her book Quick Coach Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism with 2009 MLA and APA Update, Rosemarie Menager-Beeley wrote: “Preventing plagiarism is also a critical part of the academic integrity that is expected, or even required, by educational institutions. Many schools and colleges have well-defined codes of honor or conduct that prohibit dishonesty, including cheating and plagiarizing.” (2)

Increase academic performance

Tell students that writing their own papers, doing research, and properly citing sources are part of the academic process, not a torture devised by cruel teachers. “The best warnings also indicate that the responsible use of sources is part of the writing process, not a separate legalistic requirement.

When students build on the ideas of others at every stage in the writing process, they become more attached to their own ideas and feel more responsible to the community of which they are a part,” according to Yale Center for Teaching and Learning in “Teaching about Academic Integrity and Plagiarism.”

Plagiarism detection

Students often think they are smarter than their old, out-of-touch instructors. So be sure to inform students that there are many plagiarism detection tools available and in constant use by instructors. Many services are free.

Instructors simply upload a paper and the program analyzes for linguistics, scans for content copied from websites, searches social media, or compares against a database of papers and reports.

Punishments for plagiarism

Inform your students of the consequences of getting caught plagiarizing. Many schools have an academic integrity committee that reviews the student’s case for violation of academic performance and the school’s honor code.

Depending on the verdict, the student can expect a formal warning, a failing grade on that assignment, failure of the entire course, public shaming and harm to their academic reputation, loss of degree, and in extreme or repeated instances, expulsion.

How have you tried to convince your students against plagiarizing?

Reference: Menager-Beeley, Rosemarie. 2011. Quick Coach Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism with 2009 MLA and APA Update, 1st ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.