When I was a Freshman in high school we were given an assignment to take the plot from one story and combine it with the characters from another story. I chose to take the plot of Romeo & Juliet and used the characters from the X-Men comic books. For whatever reason my teacher thought I had plagiarized the story-I had not!-and my parents had to get involved. In the end, my teacher let it go and gave me a passing grade. The technology for detecting plagiarism did not exist at the time (early 90’s), but if it had existed, my plight might have been relieved sooner.

One example of technology that can help detect plagiarism is the Turnitin software that is used at Walden University. When the student turns their assignment in, it is scanned and Turnitin compares it to other documents in its database. There are other tools which can do a similar job for a facilitator of a course.

The design of assessments can be another tool used in the prevention of academic dishonesty. I like the idea, as discussed in the video Plagiarism and Cheating (Laureate Education, 2010), of designing an assessment where the student would have to put a lot of critical and personal thought into the assignment, making it difficult to use their own previous work or the work of others. Another method might be to have each student do a different topic, but this might get unwieldy to fairly grade in a class with many students.

One technique suggested by Chao et al (2009) to prevent plagiarism is to communicate with the student about how to document their work properly and to emphasize the code of conduct. This seems like an obvious idea, but might be one that is often overlooked.


Chao, C., Wilhelm, W., & Neureuther, B. (2009). A study of electronic detection and pedagogical approaches for reducing plagiarism. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 51(1), 31-42.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from


1 thought on “LIAR, CHEATER, FRAUD!

  1. Z.

    First off… didn’t the original assignment your writing teacher gave you begging for plagiarism? I mean the directions were to combine characters from 2 different published stories. I would point this back to serious flaws in the instructional design.

    I agree with you that the assessment needs to be used as a tool for prevention of plagiarism. I think plagiarism and cheating are not always the same thing. As we learned in the video for this week in our course at Walden, often times plagiarism happens unknowingly. So, this gets back to the need for the instructor to make sure they know the level of knowledge on these issues and teach to the gap. Or, it simply needs to be taught making sure assumptions are not in place about what a learner may or may not know.


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