Explore potential strategies.
Students might not understand or may have different models of what is considered appropriate help or collaboration or what comprises plagiarism.
National studies and repeated experience on campus confirm that many students don’t know the definition of plagiarism or understand how to credit an idea appropriately. Students might also lack the prior knowledge and skills to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate collaboration. Because collaboration policies can vary from course to course, students might find it hard to decide on gray areas. Some students might have difficulty understanding the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable forms of collaboration due to cultural differences.
Clearly state what you allow and what you consider inappropriate and provide concrete examples for aspects that might be difficult for students to understand. For example, a History Department professor and the Modern Languages Department have explicit statements of their policies. You can reference the university policy and augment it with situations specific to your course. Discuss the policy in class.
And provide models of how to properly give credit and how to cite references.
As with other kinds of policies, it is important to make sure students understand why the policy is in place. Discuss with students the value of doing the work themselves and why it is important to give credit to other people’s ideas. In order to make sure students understand the policy, consider having students sign a document saying they have read and understood the policy. Equivalently, some professors use Blackboard to have students take a quiz on the syllabus and its policies. Students are required to get a perfect score on this quiz as a prerequisite for the course.
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