Cheater, cheater…

I consistently see a variety of forms of plagiarism occurring in the classroom. How can I combat this?
– O., Ohio

In real life, group projects do not require individual final products from each team member. So, you could deter cheating on group projects by accepting one work product from each group. Employ a jigsaw approach and require different members complete different sections of the project or lab report.

Try to determine if the cheaters are bullying coercing other students into giving up the answers. This situation requires involvement of the teacher and perhaps administration. Students can easily copy fill-in-the-blank, matching, and multiple-choice assignments. Use them for review or have students complete reflection slips to promote individual thinking. If you have only one or two students cheat on an assignment, you could give them a second chance with different, perhaps more difficult, worksheets.

No matter what strategies you use, make sure to inform your students what the consequences for plagiarizing and other forms of cheating will be. When you receive plagiarized work, you could:

  • Return the copied assignments to be done again and designate different questions on returned assignments for each student to elaborate on.
  • Call the students’ parents or guardians.
  • Record a zero grade for the assignment.
  • Select one member out of a group who cheated to receive a grade on the work and mark the others as incomplete. If you select the one who didn’t do the work, the author will likely howl in protest.
  • Grade one submission, deduct a 20% “cheating penalty,” and then divide the result evenly among the group.

Keep sharing the message that plagiarism is serious and not tolerated.

Hope this helps!

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