Academic Honesty Unit-Plagiarism Detection, Management and Records maintenance project

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Registration Name : eINDIA2011/AN/143
Project Category : digitalLEARNING::Best Technology Solutions for Education Institutes
Project Name : Academic Honesty Unit-Plagiarism Detection, Management and Records maintenance project

Details of Applicant
Name : D Ramaraju Gavarraju
Address : P O BOX:501564, Botho Education Park Kgale view, Gaborone Botswana
City : Gaborone
State : Gaborone
Country : BOTSWANA
Zip Code : 501564

Details of Project/Implementing Agency
Name of Organisation : Botho College
Address : P O BOX:501564, Botho Education Park,Kgale view, Gaborone ,Botswana
City : Gaborone
State : Gaborone
Country : BOTSWANA
Zip Code : 501564
Name of the head of Organisation : Mrs. Sheela Rajaram
Website : www.bothocollege.ac.bw

Brief description of the programme/project/Initiative :
The Academic Honesty Unit has a multi-faceted approach to handling plagiarism that can be viewed in 3 main categories, Prevention, Detection and Handling of cases. The management of these categories is immense due to the fact that plagiarism is being analysed at all levels, in all programs that include assessment of essay-type projects. This is the case from 1st year to 4th year. This also includes tracking of cases and tracking of investigation of cases. To successfully carry out this major task, 3 different types of software are used, Turnitin, Student Assessment Management System SAMS and Plagiarism Case Management System PCMS. Turnitin: Used to identify problem sections in submitted work. Problem sections would be sections highlighted by the website as requiring further investigation to ascertain whether or not they are plagiarised. This investigation can be carried out using Turnitin’s interface that allows for comparison between a particular section and a possible original source. Turnitin cannot understand languages in which assignments can be written, e.g. English. Instead it uses an algorithm to analyse word matches with online sources such as websites, online journals, newspaper articles, other student assignments and many other online text-based sources. When a particular section or sentences appears to have a significant number of words matching those found in a source, that section or sentence is highlighted in Turnitin to allow further investigation. The investigation will be carried out by the evaluator and sections that are not actually plagiarised are marked as properly written sections. Sections that are plagiarised are marked as plagiarised sections and the student’s document is referred to the AHU. SAMS: The system is used by the AHU to keep track of cases that have been referred to the AHU by evaluators. SAMS allows an AHU member to keep track of which students have been reported, for which assignment and infringement was found, and how serious the case was judged to be. SAMS also allows the AHU to record the date upon which the student was interviewed and the results of the interview (deliberate or inadvertent). At 4th year level, SAMS also allows for the recording of when the case was referred to the Academic Conduct Officer (ACO). PCMS: This system is used to keep track of students’ histories in terms of plagiarism at Botho College. The system allows the AHU to record information including – Full details of the offending student, – Assignment in which Plagiarism occurred, – Extent of plagiarism, – Disciplinary action meted out to the offending student, The program will allow AHU to identify students who have plagiarised more than once (repeat offenders). This helps to provide a basis on which decisions can be made including how a student can be helped to improve and what disciplinary actions can be carried out on repeat offenders. This helps to allow the AHU to deal with plagiarism on three different levels, Prevention, Detection and Handling of Cases. Prevention: Includes prevention through education and prevention through deterrence. Education: – Based on CSS classes and understanding of Turnitin Results Deterrence: – Disciplinary action based on confirmation of Turnitin Results. Locally designed software facilitates tracking of cases. Detection: Using manual and Software-based detection. Software-based:-Turnitin, results are analysed and confirmed. Handling of Cases: Cases and results of investigation of cases logged, tracked through locally produced software. Allows for exact determination of past history severity of past history. The use of Turnitin has greatly reduced the levels of plagiarism found in student documents over the last 3 years of use. This achievement is manifest in the following areas: Levels of Plagiarism: There has been a major reduction in the average levels of plagiarism. Turnitin provides statistics that the AHU analyses to assess students’ performance with regards to plagiarism. These statistics are collected after every 3 assignments and are based on the entire student population as opposed to a sample. By using statistics of the student population, the AHU is able to establish a very accurate assessment of student progress. Turnitin generates the statistics based on final submissions which means the statistics are not based on drafts that are submitted during the writing process. The statistics used by the AHU together with the management to review and modify policies on academic misconduct. This keeps Botho College’s policies appropriate and relevant as they are based on the current situation. The statistics indicate that the individual based assignment called ISAS, has seen a consistent reduction in plagiarism levels over the last 3 years. This is a major reduction and is the result of the multi-layered anti-plagiarism strategies employed at the college. Such reductions were made possible by Botho College’s policy of not simply punishing students, but also increasing awareness, counselling offenders and incorporating preventative measures into the syllabus. Botho College is likely the only institution in Botswana that uses Turnitin on a full scale. This probably means Botho College is the only institution that actually understands the extent of plagiarism amongst its students, the nature of plagiarism and how it can be best addressed. Types of plagiarism include copying and pasting, collusion, patchwork copying (certain keywords and phrases altered from the original) and submission of a particular document by more than one student. The use of Turnitin has greatly reduced extreme instances of plagiarism to manageable levels. As can be seen in the statistics, the number of students that carry out such extreme levels of plagiarism has been greatly reduced across all levels. The most significant improvement has been seen amongst fourth year students. These students submit their documents to be marked based on the top-up Institutions’ strict guidelines and penalties for penalties. Botho college’s own policies are just as strict as those of the institution, but the difference is the top up institutions use their own accounts and in some cases, their own programs to analyse student documents. This means top up institutions such as Open University use their own interpretation of what constitutes plagiarism. A reduction in plagiarised documents has been achieved and this is a very important achievement. Students who study IT using English as a second language can be caught up in the difficult requirements of the British institutions. A reduction in plagiarism amongst these students is the culmination of a lot of hard work put into making the use of Turnitin a successful enterprise. Writing Process and Feedback: The use of Turnitin has helped many students garner a deeper appreciation for the writing process and its intricacies. With the extensive links to websites that provide more information on anti-plagiarism strategies, students are able to use Turnitin for themselves, not only to submit documents for checking, but also learn more about how they can write better, prepare better notes, study methods and better research methods. A comprehensive Communication and Study Skills (CSS) curriculum has been designed with full consideration given to the type of students common to Botho College. The CSS curriculum has therefore been geared to deal with the major problems found amongst Botho College students and contains many concepts relevant to students studying in Botswana. By avoiding the pitfalls of cultural bias in such a core program, Botho College has helped ensure that CSS addresses the relevant cultural problems at Botho College as an institution in Botswana that is dedicated to facilitating learning in the globally relevant industries of IT and Business.

Why was the project started :
Some students we submitting projects that were not properly written, mainly in the form of unreferenced material, copying and pasting of large portions of material from another source as well as collusion. Lecturers had to manually identify suspect sections and investigate further by typing a sentence into a search engine, or by personally checking the attributed source. It was becoming very difficult for lecturers to effectively mark numerous student papers with the same standards. Sometimes, students who cheated got away without being detected. A standardised way of identifying problem sections was needed, where all students were treated fairly and equally, regardless of who is marking their work and when it is being marked. At the same time multiple assignments submitted at different levels (1st year to 4th year) mean there could be many cases to deal with over a period of time. This becomes particularly difficult when it comes to keeping track of case histories to identify repeat offenders. Keeping track of these students helps the AHU ensure that students are educated appropriately on avoiding plagiarism. Another major reason for tracking cases is to ensure that the appropriate disciplinary action is imposed on the repeat offender.

Objective :
To create a standardised approach to ensuring that the academic work that is submitted follows legal, ethical and academic standards; such that the evaluator can verify that he/she is marking a student’s own work that has been correctly augmented with material found through research, while also helping the student improve his/her writing, researching and studying skills through extensive feedback. This would then be maintained through an extensive and long-term system that would allow the AHU to maintain case histories and use case histories in making decisions
Target group :

All Botho College Students
Geographical reach :
Students at all campuses in the country of Botswana, 3 campuses: Gaborone, Francistown and Maun.
Date from which the project became operational : 7 December 2007
Is the Project still operational : YES

10 points that make the programme/project innovative?

  1. Allows for paperless submissions. Reduces assessment costs both for institution and student and is a step towards a greener assessment process. Reduces amount of paper involved in tracking cases and eliminating need to paper in storing case histories
  2. Allows students to check their own work and make corrections where possible, as long as this is done before the assignment’s due date. This is at the Turnitin level before cases are logged and tracked.
  3. Helps students understand where they went wrong (before their work is marked), by providing user-friendly results where problem sections are highlighted. Also helps AHU to refer to previous cases to help identify student problems in writing.
  4. Helps students understand finer points of rewriting material obtained through research by allowing them to compare their own writing with the original source. These comparisons can be made on screen with both sections of text next to each other.
  5. Students are allowed to make as many corrections as possible within the scheduled timeframe. The website, however, runs in such a way that students not tempted to cheat when making their corrections, allowing them to make corrections that help improve their work without using unapproved methods.
  6. Evaluators can refer cases through a fixed system thus allowing electronic tracking of cases raised.
  7. The AHU has standard way of going through each case thus making sure no cases are omitted by mistake
  8. The AHU provides electronic evidence of cases and how those cases were investigated thus providing investigative procedures that can be moderated to ensure quality.
  9. The AHU can identify students who plagiarised after implementation of the system, even years after the student has left.
  10. The AHU has a more reliable method of identifying and dealing with repeat offenders. This method can be reviewed by those outside of the AHU as a quality measure

List the 5 achievements of the programme/project?

  1. Has helped reduce the amount of time it takes to investigate, log and track cases.
  2. Has provided centralised storage for all data involved in all cases.
  3. Has provided the AHU with a standard method of investigating cases that can be replicated across all campuses, thus assuring a standardised approach is used at all campuses.
  4. Outstanding cases can be identified quickly and dealt with using the systems allowing cases be closed in a reasonable amount of time.
  5. Allows AHU to show relevant stakeholders efforts made to assist repeat offenders before final disciplinary action is imposed (where required).

List the 5 key challenges faced while implementing the programme/project/iniative

  1. Standardised usage of different systems across different campuses. – Extensive training carried out for all AHU members
  2. Numerous amounts of Data dealt with in different systems. – Work carried out in tranches based on deadlines
  3. Technical challenges, as is to be expected in newly implemented systems. – Updates prepared by the designers of the systems readily deployed where and when required.
  4. A lot of data needs to be entered in a short period of time. – More than one AHU officer entering data from within one location and constantly communication to avoid duplication.
  5. Major reliance on electronic data which could be lost during some major problems e.g. Viruses. – Backup constantly maintained at all times

List the 5 points how can the prgramme serve as a model that can be replicated or adapted by others?

  1. Raise awareness of plagiarism and what is wrong with it, both within the academic environment as well in the outside world, to show the seriousness of the problem.
  2. Raise awareness on anti-plagiarism strategies and how they can be effectively employed in the writing process.
  3. Raise awareness on how Turnitin works and how results are interpreted.
  4. Show the importance of procedure in investigating, tracking and logging of cases and how a system can be developed to address particular situations.
  5. Ensure disciplinary actions are based on a standardised approach and apply to all students who fall within that category.

List 5 points to elaborate on the scalability of the programme/project/iniative

  1. The project woks on a yearly renewable licence for each student and thus can be scaled up or down depending on requirements.
  2. The project can be applied to academic work submitted by staff members as well.
  3. The project can cover students in any geographical location around the world as long as they have are enrolled at Botho College.
  4. The local systems can be updated based on requirements.
  5. The project can allow for tracking of students over a period of years, thus allowing for long term implementation of the project


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2 Responses to Academic Honesty Unit-Plagiarism Detection, Management and Records maintenance project

  1. Masina Aaron Pondayi says:

    This is the Best Technology Solutions for Educational Institutes, especially in Botswana, the first of its own kind. The impact is massive on the students! Promotes creativity.

  2. Pilar Sadberry says:

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