Thwarting Plagiarism in the Humanities Classroom: Storyboards, Scaffolding, and a Death Fair

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Mary Hale


Best practices research on plagiarism in the University classroom shows that modifying assignments and classroom environment can have a positive effect on lowering a student’s desire to cheat.  James Lang suggests four features of a learning environment that can be fostered to ameliorate a student’s desire to cheat: mastery of the material for its own sake, low-stakes assignments, intrinsic motivations for learning and, a high expectation of success.  Scaffolding has been shown to be a useful pedagogical technique for empowering students (fostering a high expectation of success) My past experience using a variety of visual classroom exercises (cartooning, mind-mapping, advertising campaigns, etc.) gave anecdotal evidence that artistic and visual assignments encouraged a level of engagement and collaboration across language and cultural boundaries not experienced in other types of assignments.  I hypothesized that this level of engagement and collaboration could be used with scaffolding to motivate Lang’s four features and experimented with the use of poster presentations and other visual and spatial assignments in a second year undergraduate Religious Studies course on Death.  Very preliminary qualitative data support the hypothesis that, by addressing Lang’s four features and incorporating scaffolding and visual assignments into the course, students are cheating less and learning more. This research strengthens the extant literature on the impact class environment and expectations have on plagiarism while also adding to the growing body of literature supporting the use of visual assignments, such as poster presentations, mind mapping, and storyboards in the Arts and Humanities.


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How to Cite
Hale, M. (2018). Thwarting Plagiarism in the Humanities Classroom: Storyboards, Scaffolding, and a Death Fair. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 18(4).
Author Biography

Mary Hale, Saint Mary's University

Assistant Professor

Department of Religious Studies