Assignment Design to Reduce Plagiarism (ranked choices)

Assignment design can deter plagiarism.  Below are resources that list strategies for developing assignments that make the writing task distinctive and more engaging, either through the sequencing of its development or the form of the final product, such that plagiarizing would not work or would simply not seem worth it.  

This article provides insight and advice from three perspectives: 1) how and why students plagiarize, 2) strategies teachers can undertake to prevent plagiarism, from explaining the concept to designing effective assignments, and 3) techniques and tools for detecting plagiarism. Harris expanded this article The Plagiarism Handbook (2001) (ISBN: 1884585353).   

This Best Practices document offers perhaps the most in-depth look at designing assignments, syllabi, and courses to minimize the possibility of plagiarism.  The document argues that preventing plagiarism means more than putting a plagiarism statement on the syllabus and having a one-time class discussion, and makes the case that plagiarism prevention can be seamlessly integrated into a course’s writing and research on many levels.

This guide includes a section on “Plagiarism-Proof Assignments.” The title is enticing, but the text itself merely offers a laundry list of 15 strategies to use in designing clearly defined assignments, with no further exploration of how to apply the strategies. Among the strategies not given in our own suggestions above are the following:

  1. Make the assignment clear
  2. Provide a list of specific topics
  3. Require oral reports of student papers
  4. Have students include an annotated bibliography
  5. Require most references to be up-to-date
  6. Require a meta-learning essay

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