Background of the Study
The purpose of this study was to investigate plagiarism among undergraduate students at college of education ikere ekiti. This study also investigated students’ awareness of what constitutes plagiarism and the higher education institution’s policy and guidelines regarding plagiarism practices. The study addressed how the institution can improve students’ awareness of the various guidelines and policies regarding plagiarism.
The success of an educational enterprise particularly in terms of quality depends to a large extent, on the regular supply of teachers in adequate quantity and quality. In the National Policy on Education, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) also asserts that no nation can achieve economic, social and technological progress and self-sufficiency without a good system of education to sustain its achievement. The training and production of the manpower required for the attainment of national objectives should be framed on the quality and quantity of teachers. Fafunwa (1974) stressed the dependence of manpower training and development on teachers. He argues that teacher education should be basically related to every phase of development in Nigeria, for wherever one turns, be it economic, political or social spheres of activities, one is faced with the over-reoccurring problem of trained manpower needs but no adequate training can take place without competent teachers to handle the programme.
The origin and development of teacher education can be traced to the beginning of western education in t h e country, the various church Missions such as the Wesleyan Methodist, the Church Missionary Society, the Baptist, the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and the Roman Catholic were very active in Nigeria between 1842 and 1860. They contributed in no small measure to the development of teacher education. According to Ajayi (1965),the missionaries devoted their attention initially to the development of elementary (primary) education in the country. According to him, this might be due to the little stipend the missions relied upon from their overseas headquarters. Adeyinka (1971) remarks that the missionaries trained their teachers through the pupil-teacher syst em. In such a setting, the missionary teacher kept the school in his premises and his pupils lived with him as part of his family.
Devlin (2006) pointed out that it is understandable that colleges do not want to risk their reputation by accepting that they have a problem with plagiarism. Park (2004) argued that it will be inappropriate for higher education institutions not taking responsibility and admitting that they have a problem. The main reason will be the unfairness towards those students who choose not to plagiarise. Plagiarism can devalue the academic credibility and reputation of the institution and the academic integrity amongst students and academic staff could be undermined.
Academic dishonesty at colleges of education is a common phenomenon among students of all ages and specialties. Nowadays, the widespread use of the Internet and the popularity of mobile and wireless devices have made it easier for students to reach and transmit information in illegal and dishonest ways. Academic dishonesty can be defined as the students’ use of illegal activities, techniques and forms of fraud during their examination or evaluation processes, usually for the purpose of achieving better grades.
In general, academic dishonesty can be divided into three main categories: Cheating, plagiarism and collusion (Moon, 2006). The first two categories seem to be the most common among students, especially those of younger ages. In general cheating is considered as an intended violation of rules in order to acquire illegal advantage or better academic results in exams or similar forms of assessment. This may happen by ‘stealing’ ideas and other material from different sources (Mares, 2005; Dobrovska and Pokorny, 2007). On the other hand, plagiarism involves passing off someone else’s work as your own without acknowledging the source (Carroll, 2002).
The academic community is currently giving a lot of attention to increasing the awareness of students about ethical issues, including ethics of copying and using information in the electronic age. Publishing ethical codes of practice and teaching ethics courses have become an essential part of almost every discipline in the university which indeed can help in fighting academic dishonesty prevailing among students. In addition, studying students’ attitudes, what they think about academic dishonesty and why they practice it may help overcome this phenomenon, while increasing the students’-as well as the faculty members’-consciousness about the danger and consequences of such acts.
It would be interesting to know the extent of the spread of academic dishonesty among college of education students and the reasons behind committing it. It is also important to understand the attitude of students towards cheating and plagiarism and what their conception is about their ethicalness. This may help in targeting the reasons behind the spread of these actions and could increase the awareness of students about the danger and consequences involved thereof. Overcoming academic dishonesty is essential in preparing students for a promising and successful professional future. To this end, we conducted a study among the female students in our department.
The use of technology in education has been one of the major changes of the past decade. The learning and teaching process with the use of information technology is becoming increasingly popular. Almost every student today is a skilled Internet user and the availability of Internet resources helps students meet their study requirement within a short amount of time and may encourage them to become more engaged in the learning process. Students of the information age are thus more exposed to sources of cheating and plagiarism than their older peers. Although colleges today strive to combat these phenomena, students still heavily rely on easily accessible resources to get their work done, most probably because of the lack of awareness about what is considered an act of cheating and/or plagiarism. Indeed, it is sometimes hard to distinguish these two concepts, since both of them involve using some material that is not the product of one’s own effort and presenting it as one’s own work in some way.
Both cheating and plagiarism are considered as a subcategory of academic dishonesty (Howard, 2000). Cheating in the academic context is the ‘theft’ of ideas and other forms of copy righted material (Mares, 2005; Dobrovska and Pokorny, 2007). The act of cheating is intended to give the cheater some advantages (profit); for example, the achievement of higher grades than what one is capable of. Thus, the student’s academic performance becomes less reliable (Mares, 2005). Cheating takes place only when there is an intention to commit this act. So, it is a dishonest act with intention. Also, cheating usually takes place during examination or other assessment processes by providing or obtaining information from an unauthorized person.
Statement of the problem
The use of other people’s words or ideas without giving proper credit is only one part of the general problem of cheating. Anecdotal evidence as well as a few studies suggest that student cheating is much more widespread than usually recognised. (Although exams are thought to prevent cheating more than essays, actually the rate of cheating on exams may be higher than for any other assessment mode.)
Most cheating is undetected. For every student caught plagiarizing, it is almost certain that many more plagiarizers escape detection.
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