Why Students Plagiarise: Corrupted Morals or Failed Education?

Abstract

Why do students plagiarise and how can we tackle the problem? An accurate understanding of reasons for student plagiarism is a crucial step to successful formulation of effective solutions to the problem. To this end, a focus group study was conducted to collect information from an “insider” view on why Hong Kong university students might engage themselves in acts of academic dishonesty. A survey questionnaire was eventually developed and then self-administered by a sample of Hong Kong university students. Based on the students’ self-report, among other forms of academic dishonesty, plagiarism is the most common type of academic misconduct. In addition, plagiarism seems to be a “gateway behaviour” that might signify a “syndrome” of other academically dishonest behaviours. Regarding reasons for student plagiarism, a majority of students participating in the focus group study attributed this to its “convenience” and to inadequate learning support from teachers. Survey data reveal that plagiaristic behaviours are better explained by interactions between personal and contextual factors. Further, students in the focus group study generally opined that the plagiarism detection software currently adopted did not yield accurate detection and could be deceived. Taken together, our data tell us that the problem of student plagiarism should be treated as a challenge to teaching and learning rather than merely an issue of discipline violation. For its solution, emphasis should be placed on education instead of punishment.



Author Information
Joseph Wu, City University of Hong Kong, China
Wing Hong Chui, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China
Ming Tak Hue, The Education University of Hong Kong, China
Anthony Yau, City University of Hong Kong, China

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2021
Stream: Higher education

This paper is part of the ECE2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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