Global Innovation Awards 2016: Honorable Mention

Category: Academic Integrity | Higher Education | UK

Plato Kapranos

Plato Kapranos

Senior University Teacher, Director of Science & Engineering Foundation Year: University of Sheffield, Sheffield

“I think the impact was instantaneous and quite effective. Even if you drill into them that you shouldn't copy and cheat, it’s not as effective as seeing the actual Turnitin picture of the highlighted areas of copying.”

Lecturing to students about the importance of academic integrity in engineering didn’t seem to be working, says Plato, who teaches a variety of subjects within the Department of Material Science and Engineering. No matter how many times he delivered a “don’t copy” sermon, his students didn’t seem to grasp the importance of originality. That’s what prompted him and his team to look into trying a different approach. The result was to introduce something novel within their interdisciplinary “skills week”—a series of workshops for first year engineering students—which focused on competencies outside their normal coursework, like ethics in scientific writing.

In one of the workshops, students were asked to write an essay and submit their work via Turnitin. The following day, in an interactive session on plagiarism, they saw their own anonymized essays used as examples of proper citation, paraphrasing, and issues in need of improvement:

“I think the impact was instantaneous and quite effective. Even if you drill into them that you shouldn't copy and cheat, it’s not as effective as seeing the actual Turnitin picture of the highlighted areas of copying.”

The visual effect was dramatic, says Plato, and personalizing the issue embedded the concept into students' consciousness.

Although the evidence is still anecdotal, Plato sees improvements already. He freely shares his success stories at conferences, because he believes building on others’ good ideas is important in education - as long as there is proper attribution!

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