Using plagiarism feedback as assessment for learning to socialise students into disciplinary writing: A theoretical perspective

Keywords: plagiarism, lecturers, writing, discourse community, assessment, discipline


Plagiarism is an increasingly common offense at some South African institutions of higher learning. The plagiarism range of assessment tasks escalated during the last two decades, as a result of the changing student body that has entered universities after 1994. To address this problem, universities have implemented different electronic plagiarism detection programmes such as Turnitin and Safe Assign that can identify similarities in paragraphs of texts from different documents. The problem is that students are not being trained on how to interpret the results provided by these plagiarism detection programmes. Presently, feedback from plagiarism detection programmes is not being utilised as a self-assessment learning tool but instead is used as a discipline measure to penalise students. Given this gap, this theoretical article argues that the feedback from plagiarism programmes should be used by lecturing staff to teach students about citing and making knowledge claims to socialise them into the literacy of the discipline. This article draws from Knight’s (2001) and Chew, Lin Ding, and Rowell (2015) model on assessment for learning, which argues that feedback on assessment tasks should be used to improve students’ writing to avoid plagiarism. This emphasised the need for a standardised “Turnitin policy” be in place at institutions to enable a continuous learning experience for all students across the institution. The article concludes the critical role of lecturers to socialise students into the discourse community, by making explicit the rules of the discipline through assessment, resulting in students not being tempted to plagiarise.

Author Biography

A. Hass, Central University of Technology, Free State

Department of Languages and Social Sciences


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How to Cite
Hass, A. 2022. “Using Plagiarism Feedback As Assessment for Learning to Socialise Students into Disciplinary Writing: A Theoretical Perspective”. South African Journal of Higher Education 36 (2), 133-50.
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