Internet plagiarism plagues half of teachers

Over half of teachers say they face a major problem with students copying and pasting essays and other work off the web, according to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Some 58 per cent of the 300 sixth-form teachers surveyed from across the UK said that it's a major problem, with a quarter of work turned in containing plagiarised works.

ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said the survey reflects the pressure put on students to pass tests and get high scores at any cost: "Unsurprisingly pupils are using all the means available to push up their course work marks, often at the expense of any real understanding of the subjects they are studying."

Bousted warned that in the long-term, students will lose out because they'll lack the skills they appear to have. Nine out of ten teachers surveyed agreed, saying internet plagiarism could harm a student's future prospects.

However, it's also a problem for teachers because they spend too much time cutting, pasting and searching to check for plagiarism, Bousted said.

Despite these concerns, only 44 per cent of schools have a policy for preventing and dealing with plagiarism, and just 38 per cent of teachers think their students understand what constitutes plagiarism.

Indeed, the ATL reported some amusingly blatant examples of internet intellectual theft. One teacher from Leeds described an assignment handed in... complete with adverts from the web page it'd been cut and pasted from.

And Gill Bullen, from Itchen College in Southampton, said: "Two GCSE English retake students were very late handing in their last piece of coursework, an essay on Romeo and Juliet. When finally given in, the pieces turned out to be identical - and significantly better than either of them could have done."