Online cheating tech leads to huge plagiarism drop

There has been a marked drop in the frequency of plagiarism at colleges and universities that deploy anti-cheating technology, just as campuses adopt online academic integrity policies in large numbers.

cheating-plagiarismThe number of schools that have official academic integrity rules for web-based courses has steadily increased in recent years, and a new report from plagiarism software company Turnitin shows that colleges that use the proprietary technology saw a 39 percent drop in unoriginal writing since 2009.

The Turnitin study, which analyzed more than 55 million student assignments from 1,000 colleges and universities, also found that the number of student papers graded digitally increased by 100 fold over that five-year span.

Results varied from one institution to the next. Two-year colleges with 3,000-5,000 students saw the largest decrease in unoriginal writing from 2009-2014, with a reduction of 78 percent.

Four-year institutions with less than 1,000 students documented the smallest change, with a 19 percent decrease in plagiarized papers and assignments.

“Employing technology to evaluate work and encourage original writing among students improves the critical thinking and media literacy skills that are essential for student success,” said Chris Caren, chairman and CEO of Turnitin. “This study shows that instructors are adopting digital tools in order to measurably improve student outcomes.”

There was also a time-saving element to the Turnitin survey results, with educators using the technology reporting a 31 percent time savings, according to the study.

The Turnitin study coincided with a nationwide adoption of specific rules for online learners about what constitutes cheating and the resulting punishments.