The concern that faculty have regarding plagiarism is of utmost concern in the academy. Maintaining academic integrity promotes good scholarship and maintains the reputation of the university. But helping students learn what plagiarism is and how to avoid it can be difficult. Services like TurnItIn.com can work fine, but it can also seem, to some students, as a lack of trust between the two sides of the classroom. I offer three ways in which instructors can maintain a trust with students, while also helping them avoid plagiarism.
Inform students. Among the most important aspects of good pedagogy is letting students know about the expectations in the assignment. Alerting students to a specific citation style and kinds of sources can help students understand how to do the assignment, and it can help students avoid plagiarism.
Engage with students. Not all students know the entire process of writing a research paper, in any discipline. It is a faculty responsibility to instruct students how to do disciplinary research. One way to teach this is to separate the larger project into several smaller assignments, that all contribute to a better-formed research project. One benefit of this practice is that it alleviates some of the pressure that students might experience, and the instructor becomes aware of the project in ways that can stanch plagiarism before it starts.
Be interested. A specifically-worded question can decrease the likelihood of plagiarism. Such an assignment maintains the instructor’s interest in the responses, and it forces students to use their own resources and not use work that’s already been done.