ICT Demonstration: Study skills and plagiarism: developing on-line learning resources in a multicultural context

Research output: Research - peer-reviewConference abstract for conference

  • Tine Wirenfeldt Jensen
    Tine Wirenfeldt JensenDenmark
  • Gina Bay
  • Center for Undervisningsudvikling
  • Det Samfundsvidenskabelige Fakultets Bibliotek
In this demonstration we present and discuss two interrelated on-line learning resources aimed at supporting international students at Danish universities in building study skills (the Study Metro) and avoiding plagiarism (Stopplagiarism). We emphasize the necessity of designing online learning resources about these topics which take aesthetic aspects into account in order to create an engaging and supportive learning climate (Biggs, 2007) in which discourse and design strategies are employed to construct the student as “trustworthy” (MacGregor, 1960). Finally we point to the need for and challenges associated with making tacit knowledge about these topics explicit in a multicultural educational context, and we share our experiences with using cross-disciplinary/institutional collaboration as a method to overcome these challenges.

Stopplagiarism and the Study Metro:
‘Stop plagiarism’ is a web tutorial about plagiarism and how to avoid it for international students in Denmark. The tutorial consists of several components. The introduction provides a definition of plagiarism and examples of plagiarism. An explanation of why plagiarism is unacceptable is provided, along with information about the consequences students can expect if they do plagiarize. The second section presents the basic tools for ensuring academic integrity by introducing the basic concepts necessary to avoid plagiarism: quotations, in-text citations and summarizing. A quiz allows students to test their knowledge about plagiarism and gives them an idea of how and where they might improve. The tutorial also presents six videos in which experts discuss plagiarism from their particular viewpoints. Finally, the site offers students links to additional resources, and educators are offered suggestions on how to teach and talk about plagiarism. ‘Stop plagiarism’ is a collaboration between four Danish universities and the Danish Research Library Association's Forum for Library User Education, and the English version is funded by the Conference of Directors of Research Libraries.

The Study Metro is a digital learning resource designed to support international students in building the study skills necessary to succeed in a Danish educational context. The Study Metro is shaped like a subway map with four routes: Standards for Academic Papers, Writing an Academic Paper, Studying and Information Literacy. Each route has several stations with material in the form of texts (including advice, lists and guides), exercises, tasks, links to relevant external material and literature. The metaphor of the subway map provides students with a mind map of the key skills they need to build in order to be able to study at university level and to visualize the interconnectedness of these skills. The Study Metro is designed and run by the Centre for Educational Development, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University and the material on information literacy is based on the work of Søren Elle (Library for Language, Literature and Culture) and Jette Bohn (Library of Aesthetic Studies), Aarhus University.

The two learning resources described above are intertwined in several ways. The Study Metro situates the ‘Stop plagiarism’ material in a broader context, showing that the topic is an essential study skill and closely related to other skills such as writing, oral presentation etc., and the designer of the Study Metro shares an educational developer’s perspective on the concept of plagiarism in a podcast in ‘Stop Plagiarism’. Both learning resources reflect a holistic understanding of the academic learning process which views finding information, handling sources, choosing a topic, formulating a research problem as well as writing techniques as deeply integrated elements of the academic work process.

The importance of creating an engaging and supportive learning environment:
When teaching subjects such as plagiarism and study skills, the student can easily be constructed as a cheater and a poor student by discourse that emphasizes rule-breaking or which highlights poor study skills rather than focusing on knowledge building. This view of the student as “untrustworthy” (McGregor, 1960) can be communicated not only through explicit discourse; it can be implicit in the design of learning materials (for example, a list of rules). A learning climate that does not construct the student as trustworthy will not inspire students to want to learn how to become better students. Therefore both Stopplagiarism and the Study Metro are designed to create an engaging, inviting learning environment where the student is offered the role as a learner who can be trusted to make independent, constructive decisions about how to engage with the learning material.

The need for and challenges associated with teaching study skills and how to avoid plagiarism in a multicultural educational context:
Both learning resources were originally designed for Danish students, and Danish versions of both are available. Both resources received positive feedback, and both tools seemed to filla gap in available materials. But 75 percent of the feedback was: ‘Does this exist in English?’ It became clear that there was a need to teach the concepts of study skills and plagiarism in a local academic culture to international students in Denmark. Recent years have seen an apparent increase in the incidence of plagiarism among international students in Denmark, which points to a need to make aspects of Danish academic culture, which is primarily monocultural, more accessible to students from diverse cultural backgrounds. It is a challenge for educators to make such culturally bound expectations and practices explicit, as they exist primarily as tacit knowledge. One means to reaching this goal is for educators from different fields and institutions to work together. Even when they come from the same cultural context, the situation requires them to make expectations, rules and desired behavior explicit for one another, a process which may act as a bridge to making such tacit knowledge explicit for students with a non-Danish cultural background. Part of both the Study Metro and Stopplagiarism were developed in interdisciplinary collaborations between university educators, librarians and others.

Demonstration format:
As a part of this demonstration we will use student personas with specific needs connected to completing specific tasks. We also invite the participants to share their own experiences with related learning materials as well as their institution’s approach to preventing plagiarism and building study skills in a multicultural educational context.

Abasi, A.R.; Graves, B. (2008) Academic literacy and plagiarism: Conversations with international graduate students and disciplinary professors. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 7, 4, Oct, 221-233
Carroll, Jude: A handbook for deterring plagiarism in higher education. Oxford : Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, 2007
Biggs, J. & C. Tang (2007): Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Open University Press, McGraw- Hill Education.
Gu, Q.; Brooks, J. (2008). Beyond the accusation of plagiarism. System vol. 36, Issue 3, pp. 337-352

Jensen, T.W., Hansen, L.K. 2003, "Next Stop in the Study Metro", i Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2003, AACE, Chesapeake, VA, s. 1291-1296.

McGregor, D. 1960. The Human Side of Interprise. New York: McCraw-Hill.

Pennycook, A. (1996). Borrowing Others' Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and Plagiarism. TESOL Quarterly. Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 201-230

Original languageEnglish
Publication year2 Sep 2011
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2011
EventEarli 2011 - Exeter, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Aug 20113 Sep 2011


ConferenceEarli 2011
CountryUnited Kingdom

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