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Community Participant

Plagiarizing another student in discussions

In discussions for my online classes, I use an approach that I think is fairly standard:  Students respond to my prompt and then comment on the responses of two other students.  I have set it up so that a student must reply to my prompt before seeing other student's responses.

A student alerted me that the response of another student (to my prompt) is very similar to hers.  I checked, and it is similar enough to NOT be a coincidence.

Given that students cannot see the responses of other students before posting, I am trying to figure out what happened.

I did come up with these possibilities:

1) The second student could have responded, submitted, read other replies, and then gone back and changed hers.  However,  her response is not marked as being edited.

2) Both students copied from another source.  I did do a quick Google search of the replies, but found nothing.

3) The second student could have a friend in the class and looked at the discussion with her account.

I guess my dilemma is that I do think this second student should be penalized (via the discussion grade) for this, but am not sure how she did it.

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there,  @rlennartz ...

I am reviewing some of the older questions here in the Community, and I came across your question.  I thought I'd check in with you because I noticed that we have not heard back from you since you first posted your question on September 6, 2019.  It looks like you may have stumped the Community with your question.  Were you ever able to determine how two students had a similar discussion reply in your course?  Another thought I had was that maybe the second student just posted a response with a word or two, and then that allowed the other responses to show up right she could have read through the other responses and then posted her own.  Also, in your course "Setting" screen, when you scroll to the bottom of that page, there's a link for "more options".  Is "Let students edit or delete their own discussion posts" checked or not?  If you could please come back to this topic to provide an update for us, that would be great.  For the time being, I am going to mark your question as "Assumed Answered"...not because we've necessarily been able to find a solution for you, but more because we haven't heard back from you in over five months.  However, that won't prevent you or others from posting additional questions and/or comments below that are related to this topic.  I hope that's okay with you, Robert.  Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.

Community Participant

I have had multiple students do this by "accidentally" posting just a letter or a punctuation mark so they could see others' posts and then plagiarizing their classmates.  Needless to say, they fail the discussion.  I will be putting strong language against this in the instructions next time since they clearly do not think I'm smart enough to figure out what they're doing (sigh).  I have also had more savvy students who must have edited or deleted their original posts instead of leaving the tell-tale sloppy "accidental" posts.  I will be setting future discussions so they cannot edit or delete their original post.