November 2015 Site of the Month

Plagiarism 101

Author: Allison Hosier

Institution: University of Albany, SUNY

Interviewee: Allison Hosier
Interviewer: Carolyn Seaman

Tutorial Description (provided by the author):

Plagiarism 101 is a tutorial that covers the basics of plagiarism, including what it is, what the consequences are, and how to avoid it, in three separate sections that can be viewed separately or as a whole. At the end of each section, students are prompted to answer a multiple-choice “Check Your Knowledge” question in order to proceed. Students who answer correctly are given a choice to continue to the next section or exit the tutorial, while students who answer incorrectly are taken through a brief review. At the end of the review, students who would like further clarification have the option of choosing a longer review in which the incorrect answers are explained more thoroughly. With this design, students who are already knowledgeable about the subject can navigate to sections that are of interest and do not have to sit through review information that may not be relevant to them while students who need more information have opportunities for learning more.

Q: What was the motivation for creating this tutorial?

A: When I started in my current position as an Information Literacy Librarian at the University at Albany in September 2014, one of the first projects I was asked to work on was the Plagiarism 101 tutorial. The version of the tutorial that was active at the time had been popular with faculty who liked that they could assign it for credit. The content of the tutorial, which had been created in the early 2000s by Karen Starr, was still good, but the format (static web pages with large blocks of text) had aged less well. I was asked to revamp the tutorial to better align it with current best practices and to make changes to the content as needed.

Q: What inspired you to create Plagiarism 101 with a “test-out” design?

A: In the beginning stages of the project, I spent some time exploring tutorials I found in ACRL’s PRIMO database. I particularly liked ones that used quiz questions and activities, not only at the end but, throughout the tutorial to check students’ learning along the way. However, I thought the quiz feature in Captivate was a bit limited in terms of the feedback students received based on their answers to the questions. So I used other features, such as buttons, to create different paths based on students’ answers to the questions. This way, those students who had demonstrated their understanding of the topic could move on more quickly, while those who might need the extra information had the opportunity to review. I have since created a similar effect in a tutorial, Working with Scholarly Articles, using hotspots and markers in Camtasia.

Q: What led you to create the tutorial with Adobe Captivate? Was any training needed to complete the tutorial?

A: I had used Adobe Captivate to create screen capture tutorials in the past, so I was already familiar with the software (albeit an older version) going in. The challenge was that I had never used Captivate to make a tutorial that was concept-based rather than demonstration-based. I had to teach myself a lot about things like how to animate images and how to create buttons that would advance to specific points depending on what the user clicked. Adobe’s help pages were surprisingly difficult to navigate, so a lot of this was trial and error.

Q: From planning to launch, how long did it take to complete this project? Was it more or less time than you originally had planned?

A: When I began the project in September 2014, I was asked whether it would be possible to have it ready by the start of the spring semester in January 2015, so that was my goal and I was able to meet it. However, there were many more steps along the way than I anticipated, especially during the planning process. Before I wrote a script for the new tutorial, I reviewed the existing one in-depth and did a search for literature on best practices for library tutorials. I also communicated with faculty who had used the old tutorial in the past to get a sense of what they valued about that version. Additionally, I had never used Captivate for anything other than a screen capture tutorial before, so I had to take some time experimenting and figuring out how to do a more concept-based tutorial.

Q: Were there any best practices and/or accessibility guidelines you tried to follow while creating this guide?

A: I knew the tutorial was going to be on the long side. I had found advice about “chunking” information and recommendations for organizing the content in a “pyramid” style so that the most important information came first in case users didn’t get all the way through to the end. I found the article “Best Practices for Online Video Tutorials in Academic Libraries” by Melissa Bowles-Terry, Merinda Kaye Hensley, and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe to be especially useful in learning about this topic.

In terms of accessibility, Joanne Oud wrote an article, “Improving Screencast Accessibility for People With Disabilities,” that was very eye-opening for me. I wanted to put into practice at least some of the guidelines and techniques she described. Captivate has a lot of options for making tutorials accessible, but not a lot of guidance on how best to use those options (that I’m aware of). I wish programs like these were more flexible in that regard and made it easier to create accessible projects. This is something I’m still learning about.

Q: Who is the intended audience for this tutorial? How is the tutorial primarily being used at University at Albany, SUNY?

A: Instructors from a variety of disciplines assign this tutorial to students before they complete research-based assignments. This semester, it has been used by students in composition courses, history courses, women’s studies courses, and more. The tutorial has also been made part of a collection of online instructional materials about academic integrity that has been promoted for use on campus, especially with students who may have had issues with plagiarism. The intended audience is undergraduates who are new to the topic, though hopefully it’s a good review for any users who might already be familiar with the information. Exactly who uses the tutorial and the types of classes it’s being used for (i.e. online, hybrid, traditional) is something I’m hoping to do more analysis on in the future.

Q: How is this tutorial being promoted?

A: Aside from appearing on our Academic Integrity page mentioned above, the tutorial has also been promoted on the libraries’ homepage and our Information Literacy department homepage via the sliders on those pages. I also maintain a mailing list of instructors who have expressed interest in our tutorials and other online resources and use that to update them periodically and get their feedback.

Q: How are your students and faculty responding to the tutorial?

A: I haven’t received a lot of direct feedback, but the usage statistics for the tutorial I keep track of through Drupal are growing, so I think that’s an encouraging sign!

Q: Have you done any assessment on the effectiveness of the tutorial? Are there plans for any changes or updates?

A: The tutorial ends with a form on which students have the opportunity to share one thing they learned from the tutorial and one thing they still have a question about. This information gets e-mailed to their course instructor as a confirmation that they completed the tutorial so that the instructor can give them credit for the assignment. I also have access to what they submit on the back end and at the end of each semester will review students’ responses and identify any themes that might indicate whether changes need to be made. The most common theme in students’ responses so far has been their worry about unintentional plagiarism. They want very specific information about how to actually cite in order to avoid this. The tutorial includes some general recommendations, but no hands-on practice. Given that the tutorial is used across disciplines, I’m not sure that the tutorial could be changed to satisfactorily accommodate students on this, but it’s good to know that this is on students’ minds.

Q: What tips would you give to anyone who may be interested in producing a similar tutorial?

A: A key part of this project for me was taking the time to communicate with faculty members who had used the old version of the tutorial with their students in the past. Not everyone I contacted was responsive to my questions, but those who were really helped shape this project by giving me a sense of what they had valued about the old version and what they would find valuable in a new version. As with a one-shot session, I sometimes had to find ways to negotiate between their expectations and my own vision in order to meet their needs. In the case of the tutorial, for example, I had originally envisioned changing the theme of the tutorial from “don’t plagiarize” to “practice academic integrity.” The faculty I worked with on the project felt strongly that such a change would not put the proper emphasis on the idea that plagiarism is a serious matter with potentially serious consequences. Seeking this kind of feedback meant the process for creating the tutorial took longer, but it was worth it in part for the buy-in it helped create. I would recommend identifying and consulting with stakeholders such as faculty, students, and other librarians as an important component of any tutorial creation process.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to talk about the Plagiarism 101 tutorial!

November 2015 PRIMO Site of the Month