SafeAssign by Blackboard - Best Practices

Plagiarism can be avoided if you design your writing assignments with care. Here are some things to keep in mind as you create a writing assignment for your course.

"Instructors often find themselves playing an adversarial role as "plagiarism police" instead of a coaching role as educators when...
  • assignments are highly generic & not classroom-specific
  • there is no instruction on plagiarism & appropriate source attribution
  • students are not led through the iterative processes of writing & revising"
Defining & Avoiding Plagiarism: WPA Statement on Best Practices

Design Creative Assignments

Design assignments to prevent plagiarism by giving students unique and creative assignments. (Generic assignments are easy to plagiarize.)

  • Inspire and engage students with problem-oriented assignments that require personal exploration and original thinking.
  • Encourage intrinsic motivation, so students seek to better themselves, rather than just receiving a good grade.
  • Build rubrics that give high marks for personal expression, creativity and originality, rather than focusing on the perfectly worded answer.

Educate Your Students

Educate your students about plagiarism and define your expectations for academic integrity. Check to see that your syllabus focuses more on providing students with resources to avoid plagiarism than it does on the consequences.

  • Do you include an academic integrity policy in your syllabus?
  • Do your clearly define what plagiarism is for your students?
  • Do your students have tools and resources to know how to properly cite their sources?
  • Do they understand the ethical consequences for copying others' work?

Use SafeAssign as a Teaching Tool

Use BbLearn's plagiarism detection software, SafeAssign, as a teaching tool. Share SafeAssign's originality report with your students to aid them in revising their work, correcting their citations, and learning how to paraphrase correctly. Best practice is to allow more than one attempt for an assignment submission with only the final submission being graded. By allowing multiple attempts, students are able to resubmit their corrected work after reviewing the originality report.

  • Requiring students to turn in drafts can aid students in learning to write more effectively and reduce the incidence of plagiarism because they ran out of time.
  • Keep in mind that some forms of plagiarism are considered unintentional. The Council of Writing Program Administrators has a Statement on Best Practices that can help you determine intention.
  • Everyone functions better in an environment where they are presumed innocent. Avoid "gotcha" plagiarism policing. Give students the benefit of viewing their report and re-submitting.


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