Faculty Council hosted a discussion workshop on plagiarism on February 27, 2014. The event was facilitated by: B. Berry, M. Lechner, R. Tucker & N. van Houten. To start the discussion, M. Lechner provided an overview of the problem at SFU and FHS. He referred to recent reports from the CBC that revealed that SFU recorded nearly 500 cases of academic discipline compared to 36 reported by UBC (see links below). Indeed, the Annual Report on Student Discipline from SFU indicates that 498 cases were filed in 2011-2012 and 436 cases in 2012-2013. The FHS filed 5/498 incident reports in 2011-2012 and 31/436 incident reports in 2012-2013, indicating that the number of incidents are going up and this certainly includes cases of plagiarism. This rise plagiarism cases reported is almost certainly paralleled by a rise in cases not reported. This provided a topical starting point for the discussion.
Participants were asked about the type of plagiarism they had observed at different levels of the undergraduate and graduate programs. R. Tucker recorded the comments on a flip chart, which is shown below in Figure 1. Examples ranged from first year undergraduate to the graduate level and included practices such as copying each other on exams, cutting and pasting from websites without use of correct citation methods, and buying essays from paper mills. Participants also expressed concerns about not having enough time to adequately deal with plagiarism issues and indicated a strong interest in acquiring more information about online plagiarism detection tools such as Turnitin.
To provide a sense of what is happening in other units at the university, Donna McGee-Thompson, the academic integrity advisor for the Student Learning Commons, was invited to describe resources that are available for students. The Student Learning Commons is a division of the library that provides support for students in the areas such as writing. She mentioned that the most frequent consultations at the center involved one-on-one consultations about writing, and that the center offers, on average, 700 consultations per year. Students from all learning levels, and all faculties use the center. The Learning Commons takes a preventative approach to plagiarism by providing worksheets on quoting, citing, paraphrasing and guiding students through them. They also recommend the on-line tutorial. D. McGee-Thompson notes that they catch plagiarism in students because they are hypervigilant in noticing changes in writing and investigating observations like a change of tone in the writing style.
While the Learning Commons is a great resource for students, it does not provide resources specifically for instructors. D. McGee-Thompson identified the T&L Center and the academic integrity website as centers that would provide assistance to instructors.
Last, B. Berry and N. van Houten asked the participants to identify factors that enable plagiarism, promote good scholarship, and to brainstorm ways that FHS could move forward on this issue. Participants recorded their responses on aqua or pink-coloured sticky notes, which were then organized into conceptual categories. The main points from this exercise are summarized below. The individual statements can be viewed in the appendix.
In answering the question “What is missing?”, we realized that we haven’t heard from students on the issues concerning plagiarism.
Propagating academic culture & citizenship through promotion and modelling of “good” behavior
Providing resources such as well trained TA, caps on course size, and access to plagiarism detection tools such as Turnitin
Teaching plagiarism avoidance by encouraging and rewarding use of plagiarism tutorials
Provide students with feedback and require students to turn in drafts, use peer review to detect problems
Assignment design that is appropriate for student level and requires students to complete original work
Ensure that the assignments are appropriate to student skill level and are specifically tailored only to the course
Define clear consequences backed up by action
Time constraints on students and faculty such lack of time, poor time management, or coinciding assignments
Repercussions are poor and there are insufficient consequences.
Academic and personal culture of plagiarism is widespread, belief that everyone is doing it and that it isnt a “big deal”
Poor writing skills, lack of writing experience or struggles with english
Assignment design that resorts to groups, no feedback, is too generic between courses
Plagiarism facilitated by online access it is easy to cut and paste
Multiple writing assignments that are replicated across the curriculum
General distractions of life
Provide tools for faculty such as a workshop on Turnitin and providing model syllabi.
Develop a surveillance system
Improve scholastic culture culture by developing a culture of respect for people’s work and embed professional development into coursework at all levels
Review writing in the curriculum
Summarize the topics (see above)
Come up with some guidelines for writing in FHS (in process)
Host a workshop on Turnitin to explore the software and solutions about how to use Turnitin to help improve practices related to academic writing (April 3rd 12:00 – 1:30)
Have a workshop on Copyright – by the SFU library copyright officer.
Host a workshop on improving group project interpersonal dynamics and professionalism
Continue to work as a Writing Team in Undergrad to unpack writing graduate attribute and map curriculum
Identify writing assignments and activities that will satisfy the types/forms and requirements of writing faculty wish to see in FHS students.
Organize workshops on designing writing assignments that will achieve intended writing goals established by the faculty.
Clarify requirements in the syllabus and make sure this is also in CANVAS.
Undertake a survey of undergraduate and possibly graduate students in FHS to explore and unpack their experiences learning to write in FHS courses.
Write an FHS Teaching/Learning Blog story on the plagiarism discussion, workshops, resources to keep everyone in the loop
Make a summary of this available for WSWG (writing skills working group).
Teaching and Learning Centre – general site
What is SFU doing about plagiarism?
The PEAK “SFU cracks down on academic dishonesty” . March 17, 2014.
What can we do to support students and to reduce plagiarism?
Videos on plagiarism prevention
Professional essay writing: CBC news, Feb 26, 2014
Cheating in the news
CBC Vancouver, Feb 25, 2014
CBC Manitoba, Feb 25, 2014
and this from CBC the National Feb 25, 2014