How to prevent and eliminate plagiarism and cheating?

Isn’t cheating and plagiarism a huge concern in MOOCs?  Yes, as highlighted by Siemens (p6) here and McEachern in MOOC post here.

Cheating and plagiarism is rather common in online education, and in particular MOOCs.  Surprised?

One professor doesn’t want to give out the correct answer in MOOCs – in this post of “one-mooc-professor-wont-let-students-know-right-answers”.  The intention might be to minimize cheating in MOOCs.

How to prevent cheating and plagiarism?

Her is a nice post with videos on plagiarism and cheating.

It takes time & efforts to develop good assessment tools and questions (MC) in the same domain of known knowledge. There is a “threshold” limit where one could exhaust all questions on certain topic, unless you open up new topics. Cheating is still a challenge as students could appear as multiple “candidates”, and could share answers once they are known in multiple forms (emails), and even websites/social networks that are closed. The timed tests (MC) may be one way to control, but again, if multiple tries are allowed, one could “improve” upon time, and candidates could merely copy all the questions and answers and “resell” to others who want to know these. I am not an expert in cheating, but from observing and experience, we know that there are many tricks that could be used.

The most effective way to prevent students cheating is NOT to use Multiple Choice, or even Peer assessment as the sole means of assessment in MOOCs. But this would include more stringent assessment requirements, and may drive more students away, as this could mean that only LEARNING remains, without much “assessment” by the MOOCs. The assessment would then be done by taking “real tests, assessment or examinations, portfolios, and participating in Forum etc.” like what the first cMOOCs are required. This may not be the perfect way to prevent cheating and plagiarism, but at least, this would deter those who want to get the qualifications easily by ensuring that they work with authentic tasks, and produce original work. I seldom see students able to cheat that easily with customized and personalized learning tasks, and assessments.

What are you experiences on this area?


What may be the biggest problem in online course assessment? Cheating and Plagiarism!

What are the issues relating to cheating in online courses?

Cheating goes high tech:

“This is the gamification of education, and students are winning,” the professor told me.

The Shadow Scholars could just be the tip of the icebergs – in cheating.  Copying and plagiarism in online courses are also a concern for educators and education authority.

How to solve these cheating and plagiarism problems?

1. Use of technology and tools –  like face recognition, or other electronic identification, as outlined in this post interview to identify the persons, and tools such as turnitin or playchecker to check on plagiarism.

I have used playchecker in checking my own writings based on plagiarism, and here is the result.

2. Course terms and conditions – checking and monitoring of students’ submission of work based on agreement to terms and conditions, and an honor code.  Coursera and Udacity provide comprehensive terms and conditions of the registration and use of course materials, and submission of work.  This may not exclude students from cheating or plagiarism but could deter any students from cheating with intention in online courses.

3. Human intervention – where professors and instructors would interview the students via virtual conferencing or by referring to third party agents (employers, college or university authority, or authorized local representative) to check on the identity of students.

4. Test and examination centres – where students are required to sit for the tests and examination under surveillance, and monitoring if there are any cheating or plagiarism.  This could be a costly exercise, though worthwhile to prevent and reduce cheating.

Prevention is better than cure.  I think the excellent terms set out in the courses such as Coursera and Udacity would help students in appreciating the importance of integrity and honesty.

Here are the Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education.


Postscript: This post on Dozens of Plagiarism Incidents highlights the seriousness of plagiarism.

Another related post.

A post on Plagiarism retrieved on 26 August 2012.

Nice post about cheating.

A post on cheating accessed on 8 Sept 2012.

#Change11 #CCK12 What is the price of copying and plagiarism?

In this what is plagiarism:

plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.

Is copying the same as plagiarizing?  It seems that people could be a good “copier”, but not necessarily a plagiarizer, as the argument goes here.  “Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned after revelations that a large portion of his doctoral dissertation had been plagiarised.”

There are lots of controversies about copying others’ work, and in academia, a big concern relates to plagiarism.

How to prevent or minimize such plagiarism in higher education and research?  In this review of “A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education”, Jude comments:

“The main hope seems to lie in re-designing courses and assessments so that plagiarism is rendered more difficult.  There is also the task of how to get the message across to the students.”

In MOOCs, we may be able to develop effective strategies in combating plagiarism by encouraging and supporting participants to debate and discuss about the importance of proper citing of information sources, and to re-write or develop their artifacts in their own words, ideas as far as practicable.  This could be reinforced with a connectivist learning approach, where participants would develop posts, artifacts based on aggregation, curation, re-mixing, re-purposing (or even re-creating) and  feed-forwarding such artifacts to the open public, with proper citing the sources of information.

Using such an approach not only would encourage and support participants to develop creativity and to aggregate  and curate innovative ideas in their artifacts development, but also ensuring that such “copying and remixing” of ideas are worked out in an ethical and professional manner.  Indeed, we all learn by sharing and copying of each others’ ideas, and re-forming or mixing our own ideas and concepts that would lead to new and emergent concepts in our learning journey.  These are important aspects in digital literacy and are crucial to digital scholarship.

Plagiarism in research could be a concern especially when there are difficulties in tracing the source of original ideas and authors who posted those ideas.  How to avoid plagiarism in networked research may be a good research topic in MOOC.  What do you think?

Here are some further resources on plagiarism:

What are some of your strategies in dealing with plagiarism?