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A longitudinal study on students’ action, thinking and feeling about plagiarism in their inquiry group project work
Yaqiu HUANG, Qian KONG, Xuan WANG, Ke ZHU, Yin ZHANG, Xiao HU, CHU Sam

Last modified: 2017-05-08


Introduction: Plagiarism has been a prevalent problem in schools (Yeung, Chu, Chu, Fung, 2016). It is regarded as a very serious offence in academic studies. Given its serious consequences, it is necessary to raise the awareness of this widespread problem among secondary school students, when they start to engage actively in inquiry project-based learning for a variety of courses.


Purpose: This study investigates the current level of plagiarism amongst the students in their inquiry-based group projects, and observes the increase in their understanding of plagiarism after receiving training regarding it. More specifically, it examines the students’ level of plagiarism for the first 3 years in a secondary school, in terms of their action and mindset about plagiarism. The study also assesses the effectiveness of a plagiarism-free inquiry project-based learning pedagogy that tries to help students avoid this unethical academic behavior.


Methodology: This is a 3-year longitudinal study that follows junior secondary students in a local school from secondary 1-3 (average age of 13-15). A mixed-method research approach will be taken. To measure the effectiveness of the plagiarism-free inquiry project-based learning pedagogy on students’ perception and behaviour of plagiarism, quantitative and qualitative data will be collected through a survey and an interview. Besides, an information literacy test will be administered to assess students’ competency in information literacy, which will also cover their understanding of plagiarism. By analyzing and comparing students’ data before and after the new pedagogy (lasting about two years), the effectiveness of the new pedagogy could be identified. Moreover, by analyzing students’ subjective opinions to plagiarism, e.g. their awareness and feeling regarding plagiarism through interview, reasons behind students’ plagiarism could be identified.

Significance: This research will help us gain a deeper understanding of students’ plagiarism behaviors, and their perceptions of plagiarism. It will also help improve the pedagogy that aims to reduce students’ levels of plagiarism by increasing their awareness through a systematic training on the topic. The pedagogy can serve as a guide for teachers to help students avoid plagiarism.