Safeassign no safe sign for cheaters

[Zane, this article is plagiarised - please see the Proctor]

The number of students cheating at the University of Otago has risen on last year’s figures, but the rise is “not unusual” according to the University. The rise is documented in their annual report of dishonest offences, which shows there were 72 dishonest practice incidents in 2013. Despite there being a 56.5 per cent increase from 2012, the 2013 figure is similar to that recorded in 2010 and 2011, which had 85 and 61 incidents recorded respectively.

A breakdown of the figures shows that the Humanities Division recorded the highest level of dishonest conduct with 33 separate instances of cheating, up 19 from 2012. The Sciences Division recorded the lowest number, with only nine occurrences of dishonest practise in internal assessments and final examinations. Commerce recorded 19 incidents and Health Sciences 11 incidents.

Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies recorded 14 incidents, making it the individual subject area with the most dishonesty cases at the University for a second year running. International students were dealt with in 10 of the cases, with five of these offences occurring in final examinations.

Dishonest practices include conversing with another during an exam, impersonation, and possession of unauthorised material in exams. As in previous years, offences were largely due to knowingly and unknowingly plagiarising assignments. Common penalties vary, including: awarding a reduced mark for the assignment; awarding a fail for the assignment; or awarding a fail for the entire paper. These penalties were given according to the varying degree and seriousness of the offence.

Lenience was granted to first-year students that were believed to have not understood correct referencing procedures. Students that made second and third offences were often given harder punishment, commonly receiving a fail grade for the entire paper. Certain students were required to attend workshops at the Student Learning Centre, including “Referencing and Paraphrasing,” “Writing the University Essay” and, in special cases, one-on-one “Referencing in Assignments” sessions with a Student Learning Advisor.

Many offences involving plagiarism were caught simply by running the submitted work through SafeAssign, the student plagiarism software used University-wide. The software can detect copied work from both websites and previously submitted assignments.

An Academic Services spokersperson said that the “understanding that students have of appropriate academic writing practice is a factor contributing to the number of students recorded in the statistics.” The need to increase the university’s efforts to “educate students in appropriate academic referencing procedures” has been identified and shall be addressed through efforts from the Student Learning Centre, the Centre Library, Academic Services and Academic Departments.
This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2014.
Posted 4:35pm Sunday 9th March 2014 by Emily Draper.