Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism in Online Classes

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by Dr Bruce Johnson

Academic honesty is a hot topic right now for the field of online education.

While the increase in Internet accessibility has fueled the growth of online classes it has also produced issues related to the availability of information.

When students are developing discussion responses and written assignments they often look for sources to inform their work.

What instructors are finding on a regular basis are incidents of plagiarism, along with other forms of academic dishonesty.

It is expected that online educators will uphold academic standards so it is important to understand the many types of violations that are possible to be proactive and to teach students how to produce original work.

The most common form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism, which occurs when a student utilizes a source without providing a proper citation or acknowledging the words that have been used.

Once an originality report has been received and reviewed, it is important to distinguish between accidental and intentional plagiarism when sources have been matched to the student's work.

Accidental or unintentional plagiarism means that the student made an attempt of some kind to acknowledge sources used but forgot an element such as an in text citation while still providing a reference list.

Intentional plagiarism indicates that there was no citation or notation or reference list provided when sources were clearly utilized.

It is imperative that online instructors utilize whatever resources are available to check the originality of students' papers.

Instructors develop a feel for their students' writing ability, especially through interactions within a discussion board. The first sign of plagiarism occurs when the tone and word choice used in the paper is vastly different from typical discussion responses.

Another indicator in students' papers are different font sizes and colors. A plagiarism checker is the most effective tool because it will search a wide variety of Internet resources, including paper and essay mills. Most originality checking services maintain a repository of students' papers.

There are other forms of academic dishonesty that can occur. The first is self-plagiarism and that occurs when a student has reused a paper from a previous class without first seeking their instructor's approval.

Other types include copyright infringement, collusion, and cheating. Collusion and cheating occur when a student has asked someone else to help them complete their paper or they have done the work for them.

This is harder to check in an online environment and an instructor cannot issue a sanction without definitive proof.

When an incident of plagiarism has been detected an instructor must follow the guidelines that are in place. Typically it is the role of the Academic Affairs department to make a final determination regarding sanctions to be taken.

Intentional plagiarism may result in a failing grade, a failed course, a written warning, and/or suspension from the school. It will usually be noted on the student's permanent record.

Because of the serious nature of academic dishonesty, instructors must be proactive in their approach to monitoring originality and teaching students how to develop their own work while utilizing sources. It is only through this dual combination that academic standards will be upheld.

Dr. Bruce Johnson has had a life-long love of learning and throughout his entire career he has been involved in many forms of adult education; including teaching, training, human resource development, career coaching, and life coaching.

Dr. J has completed a master's in Business Administration and a PhD in the field of adult education, with an emphasis in adult learning within an online classroom environment.

Presently Dr. J works as an online instructor, faculty developmental workshop facilitator, faculty mentor, and professional writer. Dr. J's first eBook, APPRECIATIVE ANDRAGOGY: TAKING the Distance Out of Distance Learning, is available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Learn more by visiting http://www.affordablequalitywriting.com

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