Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/11189/2397
Title: Plagiarism as an expression of agency
Authors: Barris, Ken 
Keywords: Plagiarism;South African universities;Digital age;Peer group pressure
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: The high incidence of plagiarism in South African universities has been attributed to increased opportunity in the digital age, peer group pressure, confusion about what constitutes plagiarism, and questions of language proficiency. Cultural differences regarding originality and authority have been cited as motives. It has also been argued that language proficiency implies more than an absence of technical ability, in that the issue is interwoven with the more complex one of membership in a discourse community. In this paper, I argue that plagiarism can reflect a quest for agency that is informed by strategic components, and that conscious choices are implicated in the performance of plagiarism. This discussion is based on a questionnaire given to students at a university of technology, which found that students choose to plagiarise in order to minimise time pressure and anxiety about language proficiency. The discussion is also informed by a case study of a teaching intervention in the same university, which focuses on the extreme persistence in plagiarising behaviour. This persistence is taken as further evidence for intentionality as a causative factor in plagiarism. In explaining these findings, the views of Ashworth et al (1997), Rudolph and Radcliff (2007), and Power (2009) are discussed, leading to the conclusion that agency is partly influenced by a ease of opportunity arising from contradictions within the university system, and by institutional incapacity to control plagiarism; and partly by alienation from the academic process, and from the value system that students associate with academic staff, but do not identify with at a personal level.
Description: Second Biennial Conference of the South African Society for Engineering Education (SASEE)
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/11189/2397
ISBN: 978-0-620-57123-4
Appears in Collections:Eng - Conference Proceedings
Prof. Ken Barris

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