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I have spent some time speaking to teachers from other departments to help develop the best strategies for promoting academic honesty in the completion of essays.  I have learnt a few tricks which I will mention here but the most importantly I have come away feeling lucky to teach science.  The reason being is that this subject offers so many great opportunities to provide the students with true ownership of their work.  For example I have task in my year 10 unit which requires the students to promote the use of alternative resources in the production of electricity – Alternative Energy report.   However, by getting my students to select both the country and the resource it provides a rich diversity of content, which in turn helps promote academic honesty.

I recognize that keeping track of all stages of the formation of an essay reduces the opportunity for plagiarism by increasing the teacher’s awareness of the content.  Yet this also provides increased opportunity for teacher feedback to help students respond and create an improved final product.  Ms. Perry from my department showed an excellent example of this in an assignment asking students  for the consideration of if the issues surrounding access rare earth metals impact on their worth there for us? This essay planning and structure document clearly includes all of the discussed stages of research, structure development and a final draft production.

Within the earlier mentioned research stage it is vital that it incorporates methods that incorporate the recording the sources.  This simplifies the task of referencing when compiling the final draft.  I use a document which ask students to extract either guiding questions or required information from the assessment task instructions and to map these with the sources used – Research management with guiding questions tool.

Use an on-line plagiarism checking tool, such as as an opportunity to teach students not catch them.  So allow and promote students submitting versions onto in advance of the final deadline so that they can identify places where they need to improve their referencing and/ or paraphrasing skills.

1)      Choose a task which provides students with the opportunity for individual ownership.

2)      Identify and support the skills required at every stage of the student process in constructing an essay.

3)      Provide adequate time for students to complete each stage.

4)      Provide adequate time for you to give valuable feedback.

5)      Expect all sources to be fully referenced and embed the appropriate preparation into the student process.

6)      Use as a tool to help students identify academic honesty issues in advance of handing in a final version.

I hope that by following my own advice I can really improve the academic honesty of my students over this academic.  I will keep you informed of how I do., as ever, though this blog.