Curriculum and assessment design


Plagiarism is a growing concern in Healthcare Sciences in the current digital era. Plagiarism threatens institutions’ integrity and academic reputation; therefore, it is essential to understand all contributing factors to eradicate unethical practices effectively. The study aimed to establish the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of plagiarism among Healthcare Science students at a selected higher education institution in Gauteng. A cross-sectional study was used, with a total population of 803 second to fourth-year students from the School of Healthcare Sciences, and 83 students completing the survey. Ethical clearance and approval (617/2021) were obtained from the ethics and research committee of a selected higher educational institution in Gauteng. An adapted Likert scale self-reported questionnaire was sent via a Google form link to the teaching platform with the consent form embedded. The statistical Package for Social Science was used to analyse demographic data descriptively, and Spearman’s rho test determined the correlation between study variables. Most students were female (94.0%) and non-native English speakers (71.1%). The majority (83.1%) of the students reported understanding the instances of plagiarism; however, approximately one-third (36.1%) were unable to identify specific instances correctly. Just over half (56.6%) of the students felt self-plagiarism should not be punishable. The correlation between the knowledge of plagiarism and negative attitudes towards plagiarism was found to be statistically significant (p=0.009). The results demonstrated low practice of plagiarism, possibly due to a lack of self-awareness. Therefore, continuous in-depth education on plagiarism and improved policies should be fostered to promote the integrity of future healthcare professionals.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Familiarity with the definition of plagiarism but the inability to identify specific instances which constitute plagiarism presents as the most prominent gap in plagiarism knowledge fostered by undergraduate students.
  2. The gaps in knowledge pose a threat to their own academic work, as well as the reputation and integrity of the university and especially future patient quality care.
  3. In-depth knowledge and fostering of University policies are mandatory to improve plagiarism instances in higher education students.
  4. A positive correlation between the knowledge students possess regarding plagiarism and the seriousness with which they view plagiarism. demonstrates the importance of fostering in-depth educational programs.
  5. Encouraging Healthcare Science students to foster negative attitudes toward academically dishonest practices is essential to eradicate plagiarism and ensure exceptional future patient care.

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