March 25, 2008

The Electronic Portfolio – A Timesaving Solution to Plagiarism That Puts the Accent on Learning

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

During a workshop which I recently gave on plagiarism and other types of electronic cheating associated with a Profweb report of the same name, I proposed certain preventative strategies. Among them are the following:

  1. The Exit Profile on Using IT for Learning Purposes developed by the IT Representatives’ Network promotes research methods on the web that have been shown to avoid the copy/paste methods that so often lead to plagiarism for students.
  2. Using copy/paste often stems from ignorance of the rules around citing electronic sources. It is therefore important to make our students aware of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. The Owl at Purdue offers a concise and instructive look at this issue. The section “Is it Plagiarism yet?” is of particular interest in explaining how to avoid plagiarizing.
  3. One of the most effective strategies for preventing plagiarism is to track work through several stages leading to a final submission. This method emphasizes the student’s process and discourages plagiarism by not allowing only a final product to be submitted.

In the collegial network, there has been a growing interest in the electronic portfolio as a method of documenting process. This format allows the student to conserve different versions of their work. Not only discouraging plagiarism, the portfolio shows student development, saves teacher comments and encourages the student to think about their work because justification at each step is required. This point is underlined by Ginette Bousquet, a teacher in Sciences humaines at Cégep de Sherbrooke in an excellent report on the subject. The electronic portfolio puts the accent on the learning process and not on the final product. It encourages the student to self-evaluate. Robert Bibeau makes the point that the portfolio is also an activity that encourages skills development within the program context in an article that appeared in the bulletin Clic (in French).

In his very interesting story about portfolios (in French), Yves D. Morin, a teacher at Cégep Marie-Victorin, notes that this method also has a positive impact on student motivation. Wow!

Is this a way to save time?

During the workshop on plagiarism, a teacher asked me if strategies to discourage plagiarism represented a significant increase in the teacher’s workload. This is not an easy question to answer because there is so much variation in methodology from one teacher to another. Once the initiation period of the portfolio was over, a high school teacher noted that the electronic portfolio permitted a considerable savings of time in corrections because student work is all in the same place and accessible at the click of a mouse.

Do you find an electronic portfolio at the college level intriguing?

For many of the reasons mentioned above, the IT Representatives’ Network working with the IT Partners1 has decided to develop an online model of the electronic portfolio for teachers in regular and continuing education in the cegeps. Input from teachers is a must for the creation of this document. Certain people have already expressed an interest in participating.

Does this subject pique your interest? We would truly appreciate your suggestions and your input as a collaborator or a reviewer. Get in touch with us and share your opinions with other Profweb readers using the Reader Response Feature below.

About the author

Nicole Perreault

She began her college career as a Psychology Teacher and Education Advisor at Collège André-Grasset. She was then the Director of APOP and the CLIC newsletter before becoming an Education Advisor at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit. Since 2005, she is pleased to be the Community Manager for the Réseau des REPTIC (IT Representatives Network) which brings together ICT Education Advisors from across the college network. She has written numerous articles and given many workshops on the pedagogical use of technology. Their integration within the context of student success is a subject that she finds particularly interesting.

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