- When she uncovers students plagiarizing in her class, Allison Berryhill, an English and journalism teacher at Atlantic High School in Iowa, looks at what might lead them to do that. she writes in Edutopia. She works to help them strengthen their writing skills, so they feel more confident and won’t feel a need to copy published material.
- When she does find a student who has plagiarized, she has called them into her office to ask what led them to that choice. She has found that, in at least one case, the student didn't understand the expectations of an assignment.
- Ultimately, Berryhill believes that both teachers and students may have played a role if plagiarism has taken place, and educators should consider examining what actions they can take to support students rather than automatically punishing them.
If they discover a student who has plagiarized, educators may want to consider that there is an underlying problem, one that a child may be having difficult overcoming.
Students can turn to plagiarism for many reasons including anxiety about a lesson, or even lacking skills to manage their time, as Edutopia alludes to in its story. If a teacher finds a student in their classroom has turned to plagiarizing, one course of action can be to draw the student’s attention to the offense, then review the basics of what is, and is not, plagiarism so that children know what is expected of them. Having guidelines and even lessons on how to avoid plagiarism may be helpful, and has been shown to reduce instances.
When creating policies, administrators can also consider whether they would like to give students an opportunity to repeat an assignment — instead of taking a punitive course of action on a first offense. Children then have the chance to retry, and improve on their work.
When students fail, but are given an opportunity to try again and learn from their mistakes, children can develop a sense of trust, build critical thinking skills and come away with resilience and confidence — two character traits that will help them on their educational path.