Documentation:Teaching Challenges: Online/Plagiarism

From UBC Wiki


Most adult learners enroll in courses because they are genuinely interested in learning more about the topics under study, and perhaps because they believe that the material will help them in their personal and/or professional lives. This makes it less likely that course participants will engage in behaviour that we might call “cheating” – a phenomenon that is more common where learners are extremely time stressed, or feel pressured to complete work for ‘bureaucratic’ reasons rather than in pursuit of personal learning goals.

On the other hand, accepting plagiarized material from learners denies them the opportunity to engage in the meaningful critical reflection and writing that contributes to good learning. Moreover, learning to accurately assess the credibility and authority of information sources, and learning to accurately attribute material and ideas to their original authors contributes to a learner's personal and professional skill set. There are various strategies for trying to prevent plagiarism, such as giving clear information on what is unacceptable, and building a relationship with learners so you get to know their skill levels.

If you suspect plagiarism, it can help to:

Remember that some learners may not understand what plagiarism means, or why you have concerns about it. This detailed Resource Guide teaches learners how to correctly cite their work.

  • Direct learners to UBC Library resource pages on Evaluating Information Sources
  • Give the learner the opportunity to explain themselves.
  • Give the learner the chance to resubmit work.
  • Consult the course coordinator or your department head to develop a plan of action.