Explore PT: Avoiding plagiarism for artifact


I’m not sure if I’m the only one with this problem, but I thought I’d post in case it can be a heads-up for other teachers.

I realized at least a small handful of my students are creating their artifacts (mostly diagrams) by finding existing diagrams that they like, then re-creating that diagram. For example, at least two students doing self-driving cars found different pictures of self-driving cars with the sensors labeled, then they both (independently) found the same image (as the originals) of those cars and put the same labels on those pictures - at most rewording some descriptions. I’m glad I caught them relatively soon.

Student: “So… should I use a different picture?”
Me: facepalm

I did have some difficulty explaining where to draw the line of what counts as plagiarism and doesn’t count. I told them to be on the safe side, instead of using existing artifacts as “inspiration” and just tweaking them, they should make their artifact from scratch. Come up with an idea on your own, based on your own understanding of that innovation, then make the article from scratch.

I’m guessing there’s not really a clear cutoff between what is and isn’t considered plagiarism? Possibly the thought process that led them to their artifact?


thanks for bringing this up, frank! my understand from talking to the CB is that it’s actually totally fine for artifacts to include visuals made by other people. for example, look at this sample, computational artifact copied below:

and here’s the written response to the prompt about making a computational artifact:

When researching this topic, I chose to examine multiple sources. For my computational artifact, I researched pictures of bitcoin mining machines using the Google search engine. After I found the images, I copied them to a page in photoshop accompanied by some information from my research. . To research the artifact, I used a search engine like google to get a rough idea of the websites I would gather my information from, websites like Opposing Viewpoints, to get more in-depth information. Using Photoshop, I was able to make a clear artifact by being able to add pictures and words and by giving them a visual appeal. For the final process, I used google docs so I could work on it both at home and at school.

the student obviously didn’t make these visuals, but just combined them here. in the scoring commentary, the student got the point for the computational artifact because “The computational artifact identifies bitcoins as a computing innovation and explains the purpose of Bitcoins as cryptocurrency that can be used for online selling and purchasing of items.”

NOTE that this sample is missing citations for these images, but the student didn’t get points for criteria 7 (the one related to citations), so maybe that’s how they handle it.

tl;dr: this is confusing, but it seems like it’s okay to use existing work, as long as it’s cited. that said, i think frank’s advice to make something from scratch is the way to go, and is the advice i would give as well (to try and avoid confusion).


Thanks, Brook! However, sorry I wasn’t clear what my students were doing…

Imagine a student took the sample you put up… found the original images, then reconstructed the artifact. So they put “Bitcoins” at the top… they they write subtitles “What are bitcoins?” and “Why is cryptocurrency different”? Then mayyybe they reword the rest of it. I was pretty dumbfounded, as I didn’t even think that would be a thing.

As for taking images from other sources, yes, I did tell my students that was okay as long as they cite the source and attribute credit underneath the image (“Image from ___” or “Image courtesy of ___”).