A preventative approach to plagiarism: An empirical study of a first-year unit for undergraduates

Sandy Darab


This paper reports on an empirical study into the communications of academic values, codes and conventions within a large-scale foundation studies unit for firstyear undergraduates at a regional Australian university in first semester 2005. In this unit, one of the foci was teaching students about issues of plagiarism and assessing how students reflected upon and took up those ethics. The unit’s content and its assessment were conducted online. Students engaged in experiential learning within multiple online tasks associated with plagiarism and of direct relevance to unit assessment. Unit design, delivery and assessment involved a cyclic process of action research, which facilitated insights into students’ value communications and academic skill development over the semester. A qualitative analysis of students’ communications within sequential online assessment tasks and anonymous surveys, as well as the value discourses articulated by students and staff, reveals most students were highly receptive to information on plagiarism and intent upon avoiding it through developing academic skills.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21913/IJEI.v2i2.87