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Approaches to tackling plagiarism amongst international students: Deploying weapons of mass destruction or preventing collateral damage? Janette Ryan 9.

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Presentation on theme: "Approaches to tackling plagiarism amongst international students: Deploying weapons of mass destruction or preventing collateral damage? Janette Ryan 9."— Presentation transcript:

1 Approaches to tackling plagiarism amongst international students: Deploying weapons of mass destruction or preventing collateral damage? Janette Ryan 9 June 2011

2 Problems expressed in assessing the work of international students are common, with staff becoming aware of the different learning styles and academic traditions of some international students. Assessment is also a difficult experience for these students, for whom the types of academic performance they were previously rewarded for can be penalised for not being independent or critical, and sometimes regarded as plagiarism. Ryan, J. (1996). Equal opportunities in the curriculum: A good practice guide, p. 19. Oxford: Oxford Brookes University.


4 Student A Local student Copied journal article in entirety Interviewed by phone Admitted offence ‘Extenuating circumstances’ Not on register Allowed to re-submit Student B Chinese Several words copied from Internet Formal interview Unable to answer allegations Broke down Distressing for all Had to repeat module

5 Interview questions (Students) Recount episode: was allegation reasonable, knew was plagiarism, why they did/why didn’t know, what led to this, expect to get caught, intentional or unintentional, contributing factors or pressures Understanding: of plagiarism, of ‘your own work’, use of electronic sources, how referenced Support: information or guidance in course or module, what should be provided Incidence: how many plagiarise, reasons, intentional or unintentional, how often students get caught

6 Interview questions (Staff) Recount episode: Intentional or unintentional, aware was plagiarism/why not, influencing factors Understanding: of plagiarism, ‘their own work’, allow electronic sources, issues involved Support: information or guidance provided in course or module, what else might help Incidence: how many, reasons, intentional or unintentional, how often they think students get caught

7 Student responses Fear and confusion – high stakes Unclear boundaries between paraphrasing and plagiarism and conflicting advice Feedback focuses on what is wrong not what was required Emphasis on containment and punishment Seen as guilty and having to prove their innocence Dismissive views of different academic practices

8 especially for the international students, it’s a sensitive issue, actually they don’t do plagiarism, but for the very beginning of their study, trying to avoid plagiarism is a difficult task for them. Especially in Bangladesh, actually, we don’t concerned about this sort of thing (Postgraduate Male Education student) I understand that that person had to do their job, but I’m here to basically give an insight as what was going on in my world… I didn’t put it in my own words and yes, I admit I’m guilty, but I was just a little upset as to how I felt. Well I cried for four weeks after… and I don’t cry easily. And um I did feel like a criminal. I did. I did.. It was the worst Christmas I ever had. And then this person said she’s, they are going to check my other work and, I’m thinking “Oh goodness!” You know, I’m going to be expelled, I’m this and that, it was just horrible. It was just horrible. (3 rd Year Female Arts student) I myself have been ‘convicted’ (nervous laugh)… I took some information from the Internet, because it is another language, it’s actually my fourth one… I was thinking that was kind of weird because I got into a lot of trouble for taking six words out of the Internet. (Female Postgraduate Student, Education) (the tutor) said that I’d put in so many quotes, um, she thought that I didn’t understand it …the reason I put so many quotes in I was so afraid of writing something, um, even rewording it because it wasn’t my own idea…I was paranoid about being caught up in plagiarising, and then because I’d done all this quoting I got called up for plagiarising … I was terrified… (3 rd Year Male Arts student)

9 Staff responses Fear and confusion – an emotional issue Extra work, pressure to re-mark, fear of reflecting on themselves, fear of not being supported, lack of confidence in university’s procedures, deliberate resistance Ambiguous boundaries between ‘cut and ‘paste’, patch writing or plagiphrasing Inconsistent approaches - many deal with plagiarism in their own ways Differences across disciplines and between individuals

10 Some academics … see this plagiarism issue in relation to international students as one way of signaling through their discontent with the changes that have occurred to, ah, academia over the last 10 or 15 years so again it’s, er, just a suspicion I have... We take these people on and then we, I mean they don’t have the skills, we know they don’t have the skills and then we expect them to live up to these other ethical standards. I think there’s a double standard going on there. (Male, Lecturer, Arts) [these are] matters that I find extremely unpleasant to do, having to talk to people as though they’re criminals. He seemed to be unable to communicate about it, very silent. Um, obviously trying to stifle um an emotional reaction as you know Chinese ah A- Oriental people try to do…he was trying to keep a brave face but he was just speechless and ah I just felt so badly for him. (Female, Senior Lecturer, Arts) we’re supposed to report everything even if it’s unintentional plagiarism, I’m reluctant to do that to be perfectly honest because they do have their name in a book so to speak…Faculty policy is much harder than I usually treat it… I might be a bit of a mug for doing that. (Female, Lecturer, Arts) [what] is very common in my experience is the ‘desperation’ plagiarism. It’s the um, you know, students panic, they get close to the assessment deadline…their lives are very complicated, there’s a bunch of stuff on the web and it’s just too easy in a way, it’s just too easy (Male, Professor, Arts Faculty)

11 Students’ words terrifying, scared, fear, devastated, intimidating, paranoid, confusing, being ‘convicted’, feeling like a criminal

12 Staff’s words time-consuming, arduous, burdensome, frustrating, unpleasant, disturbing

13 Over-representation of IS? Not generally borne out by research Easier to detect (not just the ‘tone’ but the ‘language;’ changes Impact of Turnitin: native speakers more able to break the string May mask other problems – pressure, English language skills Inability to manipulate language and use sophisticated language – conflated with ability Misunderstanding of academic writing conventions rather than deliberate cheating Link to timing and types of assessment (‘desperation’ plagiarism)

14 Causes New academic rules, practices and concepts Different views of writing and ‘common knowledge’ Assessment tasks and instructions assume tacit, shared knowledge People are ‘blind’ to their own academic culture and assume it is universal Language difficulties (up to10 times longer for IS to do reading)

15 Causes (cont’d) Previous experiences – examinations/tasks require students to demonstrate knowledge of the syllabus Internet created unprecedented temptations to plagiarise Textual borrowing is more a problem of writer development than deliberate academic dishonesty and may be a necessary developmental step (Schmitt, 2005)

16 ‘Western’ and ‘Confucian’ notions of scholarship and learning China: Tsinghua, East China Normal, Nanjing, Harbin Normal, Zhejiang, Sun Yat-sen and Beijing Language and Culture, Shijiazhuang Vocational Technology Institute Hebei, University of Hong Kong UK: Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Bristol & Cardiff US: Columbia, New York & Indiana Australia: Monash & Charles Sturt

17 ‘good’ scholarship should be, first of all, honest in [both] research and study. When you use other people’s thoughts, words, data and so on, the use should be acknowledged. (Professor, Education, Hebei Vocational Technology Institute) There are commonalities that good scholarship and effective learning share in both paradigms. An oft-cited belief in China is that the Western paradigm emphasises critical thinking whereas CHC paradigm emphasises rote learning, memorisation and breadth of knowledge. I believe that differences exist only amongst individual scholars whether Eastern or Western. They should not be taken as differences between the paradigms. (Assistant Professor, Humanities, BCLU) At the moment there’s lots of talk about plagiarism, and how the availability of ‘knowledge’, and even opinions, threatens the traditional skills of independent thinking and writing. I don’t think we are even close to an adequate appreciation of this as a challenge. I would be looking for more creative responses to the flood and exchange of information than to accuse everyone of plagiarism (after all, we head- in-the-air literary types pretend we’re quite comfortable with ‘intertextuality’). But I do share the worries about the erosion of the value of thinking for oneself. (Fellow, Languages, Oxford) [Good scholarship] should also acknowledge the achievements of others and this does not simply mean avoiding outright plagiarism. (Senior Lecturer, History, King’s College London

18 Impacts Contradictory messages - value cultural diversity but punish different writing styles Punished for practices that were previously rewarded Tendency to over-cite rather than risk plagiarising Inhibits risk-taking and creativity Shock at allegations; fear of repercussions Devastating affects on confidence and self- esteem








26 For more information about TIS… TIS website TIS newsletter TIS/CAPRI/CICIN conference: Internationalisation of Pedagogy and Curriculum in Higher Education: Exploring New Frontiers 16 & 17 June 2011 University of Warwick

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