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Personation- the new plagiarism; implications for pedagogical practice.

Author Joe MacDonagh and Deryck Payne
Abstract A key focus of many educational institutions has been the development of policies to combat plagiarism. Best practice to shape behaviour and curb future plagiarism has involved rigorous instruction on plagiarism coupled with submission requirements involving international detection programs, such as Turnitin. This paper examines the rise of personation, or someone authoring a college assignment for students, which is a means for students to achieve academic grades while avoiding detection for plagiarism. It explores why students engage in this practice, also known as contract cheating for some forms, and examines ways of quantifying how much personation exists. It analyses whether personation, particularly in the form of 'essay mills', may expand and will examine the best ways for colleges and lecturers to detect and combat these. Some of these ways involve linguistics, on the semantic contact of submitted work, and computer science, on the idiosyncratic typed pattern of the work submitted for each student. The paper suggests approaches to combating personation, including greater emphasis on discussing submitted work with the students concerned, increased use of small group tutorials plus the authoring and discussion of texts in a class environment. Finally, personation is set in a conceptual framework, particularly Vygotsky's zone of promixal development. Also examined is the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and the need to create a dialogical space in which student texts are open to dialogue within the community of practice; something which personated assignments close off and negate. This paper will be of interest to all those who are interested in detecting and combating personation and in finding out how to develop pedagogical practice which avoids this in the first place.
Keywords Personation, Plagiarism, Collusion, Contract cheating
Published In ICEP Proceedings 2012
Date 2012
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