Plagiarism in the Classroom Prevention rather than Detection

Preventing plagiarism in the classroom might be simpler than you think, and the solution to the copying epidemic can also lead to a cure for mediocrity. What if the solution to plagiarism in the classroom meant a quantum boost in student creativity? Bet you’d be interested in that one.

The problem with classroom plagiarism in the age of the internet is how easy it is for students to use the net as an electronic vacuum to suck up and spit out copied facts, passing the work off as their own. What if, instead of trying to nab students for copying factual information and plagiarizing, we changed the nature of their assignments instead?

Instead of bemoaning the internet as a sea waiting for students to fish for facts, the net becomes a compliment to the students’ own original contributions. Instead of regurgitating facts, students are given creative assignments and asked for their own insights.

There’s more. James McKenzie in his article “The New Plagiarism: Seven Antidotes to Prevent Highway Robbery in an Electronic Age” offers brilliant insights and some very creative and exciting solutions to the problem of plagiarism in the classroom. He literally turns the problem on it’s head.

McKenzie describes three levels of research, namely:

* Just the facts
* Using other people’s ideas
* New ideas & synthesis

He sees the solution to the plagiarism epidemic as encouraging teachers to eschew the first two levels of research in favor of the third, New ideas & synthesis.

What a concept, and about time. Structure student assignments to encourage student creativity and original thinking. Teach the students how to ask questions so they can ask the essential questions and join in the great dialogue instead of regurgitating factoids.

Teach and encourage the students how to use synthesis in their thinking. Traditional classroom curricula place far too much emphasis on analytic, left brain types of thinking. Synthesis coupled with questioning skills will give students the tools they need for original thinking. Combine these skills with assignments that ask students to make up their own minds and we’ll have reached a new plateau in education.

The essence of this approach encourages, no requires students to make answers instead of sucking up other people’s ideas or raw facts from the internet and passing them off as their own.

Originality isn’t dead, it’s just asleep in far too many classrooms where we send students off on mundane assignments that are nothing more than fact gathering missions. This not only invites plagiarism, it encourages the practice. We can waken the creativity inherent within each student and turn the tables on plagiarism. Any takers?