This paper discusses methods that students can employ to prevent involvement in plagiarism and academic dishonesty. This is particularly in the context of the digital era which has facilitated an expansive educational system. This paper is not intended to be a comprehensive and conclusive discussion on the numerous subtleties and options of promoting integrity. However, the most widespread aspects will be touched on. In the end, any student with a wavering moral standing as far as their academics are concerned should find this paper quite edifying. More so in the area of plagiarism since in and of itself, is not considered as a serious academic violation by many students.
Academic dishonesty refers to any sort of deceptive activity which unfairly or improperly enhances a grade on an individual assignment or a course grade. Plagiarism is one of numerous forms of academic dishonesty. Other forms include but are not limited to: copying from one another, using crib notes and use of electronic devices such as phones to communicate or to obtain information from the Internet.
It is the responsibility of each individual to make a conscious decision to maintain integrity. However a lot can be done to establish an ethical “culture” both at home and school. An ethical culture promotes honest and honorable conduct and discourages dishonest, deceitful and dishonorable behavior ().The principal approach is to impart core values through a process personified in the acronym T.E.A.M. – Teach, Enforce, Advocate and Model. The process is instrumental in instilling the six core values promoted by Character Counts! (don't confuse it with document word count tools ;). The Six Pillars of Character which are: caring, fairness, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness and good citizenship.
Students ought to cultivate the six pillars of character in order to prevent academic dishonesty. These are traits that are not only relevant to school and academic ethics but also to life in general. Good citizenship is especially important since in school, the influence of peers is most felt. This influence can be positive in terms of cultivating the other five pillars. Its challenging to undertake any sort of rebellion in school all by your lonesome. In this way, incidences of academic dishonesty can bet reduced and done away with altogether.
Plagiarism refers to the act of passing off someone else’s published or otherwise recognized ideas and work as your own. The occurrence of plagiarism has been especially fueled by the ready availability of academic materials online as either e-books or uploaded text documents. Moreover, magazine and newspaper articles, journals and web pages on any particular subject are numerous hence sometimes students are tempted to purposefully participate in plagiarism by presenting such work as their own.
The readily available information sources provide another challenge to students: tracing the source of a particular idea that one may have incorporated into their work. The root of this is another prevalent behavior among students: procrastination. In the rush to meet deadlines for assignments, students skim over the myriad of information sources, picking up ideas without keeping track of their sources. They end up giving incorrect information about the sources of quotations or failing to put quotations in quotation marks altogether.
Also, some subjects are not well written about i.e. the electronic sources have limited information concerning these subjects. This means than when a student finally locates an appropriate source for the subject, he/she may copy so many words and ideas from it that it makes up the majority of their work, whether they give credit or not. This is in contradiction with fair use rules, one of which states that the more you take the less fair your use is likely to be.
Students are not guilty of plagiarism when in good faith they try to acknowledge others’ work but are unable to do so fully or accurately. These shortcomings are primarily the result of failures in past teaching and learning: students lack the knowledge of and ability to use the conventions of authorial attribution. Just as students are expected to live up to their obligation to behave honestly and ethically as learners, teachers must also be aware that they can discourage plagiarism not just by policy and reproach, but also in the way they set up assignment objectives and in the processes they use to help students define and gain interest in topics developed for papers and projects.
In order to curb the festering infection that is plagiarism, the six pillars stated above are essential. Chief among them, good citizenship and this starts with individuals who join to form movements that can exact change. In this case, prevent incidences of academic dishonesty.
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McLaughlin, R. D. & Rose, S. M. Student Cheating in High School: A Case of Moral Reasoning vs. Fuzzy Logic. High School Journal: 100.
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