Broaden an Institutional Plagiarism Policy

To address plagiarism, teachers incorporate Turnitin into a larger plan at Lindenwood University that involves a writing placement program, the development of a strict plagiarism policy, and a mandate to pass a writing test to graduate.


Lindenwood University
St. Charles, MO
Private Liberal Arts University
15,000 Students

Background

Andy Thomason is an assistant professor of English and American Studies at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. With approximately 15,000 students, Lindenwood is a growing liberal arts institution that is dedicated to excellence in higher education. English is a popular major at the university and Thomason and his colleagues place an emphasis on honing students' writing skills so that they are sufficiently prepared for the remainder of their educational career and for the workforce.

Problem

Professors at Lindenwood, especially those in the humanities department, realized that many of the incoming freshmen were lacking the skills needed to read and write at a college level and, because of this, they saw an increase of plagiarism in students' written work. "We were finding a handful of cases of plagiarism in each class," said Thomason. "This was a serious issue for us. Professors were spending three to four hours per paper tracking down cases of plagiarism thus taking away time for thoughtful review."

Solution

To address the need to improve students' writing skills and to combat student cheating, Lindenwood initiated a writing placement program to help students improve in this area, developed a strict plagiarism policy and mandated a writing test that students must complete and pass before graduation. In addition to these initiatives, Lindenwood also adopted Turnitin which professors are encouraged to use with their students. Used both natively, as well as through an integration with Blackboard, Turnitin is now used by the majority of the professors across many disciplines at the university. Lindenwood has helped encourage this adoption and wide-spread use of Turnitin by instituting ongoing discussions at faculty meetings and conducting professor-led workshops about Turnitin's use.

Results

"When we first started using Turnitin I was teaching two composition classes. As a test, I used Turnitin for one of the classes and didn't use it for the other," said Thomason. "There were dramatically fewer instances of plagiarism in the class that used Turnitin." Over the past few years, plagiarism university-wide has been cut back significantly because of the many efforts of the faculty at Lindenwood. "The pressures of college are sometimes overwhelming and because of the prevalence of computers and the Internet, good students sometimes succumb to the temptation and plagiarize. I feel that we are actually doing students a disservice by not using Turnitin."