When students resort to plagiarism, they lose the chance to develop important critical thinking and important literacy skills.

How plagiarism makes the literacy gap worse

When students plagiarize, they lose the chance to develop important critical thinking and problem solving skills

The lack of development of a child’s critical thinking skills can also reflect how they digest facts and truth. For example, Science investigated 126,000 news stories (both true and false) tweeted by nearly 3 million people more than 4.5 million times on Twitter from 2006 to 2017 and studied “the differential diffusion of all of the verified true and false news stories distributed.” They found that the false news stories dispersed “farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories.”

Furthermore, their study uncovered that despite popular belief, “robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.”

The solution to fighting plagiarism is not stricter punishments but addressing the root cause of why students plagiarize. Two different studies, one done in Germany and Slovenia and another in Malawi, have shown pressure for good grades is the primary driver of why students choose to plagiarize.

Instead, we should encourage students and build their confidence to express their understanding of the material in their own words so we can better gauge their performance of the material. This could be a more accurate measure of adjustments that need to be made with the learning material. Plagiarism detection software also offers plagiarism reports that allow students to review their words and catch plagiarism early on in the writing process, preventing the action before it even starts.

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