“Keith Findlater Photography” is certainly well known to ITGS project moderators. It is not because of the photography, but because they know the text in exemplar 1 on the Teacher Support Material almost word-for-word! Why? Because of the number of instances where students copied material from the examplar:

  • questions used for criterion A Consultation
  • content from criterion B Analysis
  • columns 1, 2, 3 and 6 in criterion C Project Schedule
  • diagrams, wording for techniques and sources, test plan in criterion D Project design
  • some of the text from criterion E Project development
  • questions on the feedback for criterion F Feedback and future project development

What is most alarming is that all of the projects that included “suspected plagiarized” material were read in draft form, were also marked as part of a sample and then were sent to a moderator. This raises a number of questions:

  1. Do students really understand Academic Honesty and what plagiarism means?
  2. Do students realize the seriousness of plagiarism or any other malpractice and what the consequences will be?
  3. Are the projects being supervised and moderated criterion-by-criterion? When criterion A is submitted for feedback and it contains evidence of material from the exemplar, a student should receive a clear warning of having plagiarized material in their documentation and that this is unacceptable in all IB work
  4. How much more plagiarized material exists from the Keith Findlater Photography that was not selected as part of a sample?
  5. How much more plagiarized material exists from other exemplars and sources that was not included in samples and went unnoticed?

ITGS is firmly based on the ITGS Triangle. One of the cornerstones of ITGS is social and ethical considerations. Yet the ethics involved in developing an ITGS project has been ignored by some students. Other instances of “suspected malpractice” also include not citing sources in the Documentation and Product:

  • All sources used in the making of the product need to be cited in criterion D Project design and as relevant to the techniques in criterion E Project development.
  • Source code which adds functionality to a webpage and is copied from another source must be documented within the code on that webpage and in the Documentation.
  • The sources of images, music, text or other content material used in any product must be cited.
  • Any public website needs either authentic or copyright-free material or the permission of the originator to use the content material.
  • Ideas for the design of the product or the use of templates must be cited.

When in doubt whether to cite a sources, the guideline is to cite.

How can we work together to avoid problems relating to “suspected plagiarism or malpractice” in ITGS Projects?

  1. Students must be familiar with the IB document Academic Honesty (download from the OCC) and the serious consequences that are involved in cases where this has been violated.
  2. Students often plagiarize when they do not understand the requirements for the Project or when they require more guidance. Students need to understand the expectations of the particular assessment criterion and see an examples of each criterion before they develop that criteria for their project.
  3. Teachers need to supervise and moderate Projects criterion-by-criterion. In this way, students who have plagiarized material for criterion A can already be warned and can make adjustments in their approach on that criterion before progressing to criterion B.
  4. Teachers may provide feedback on each criterion. Teachers may not indicate what to write or what to include, but they can point out where the work submitted by the student falls short of the assessment criteria.

Instances of “suspected malpractice” in ITGS, like all IB work, are sent to the IB Curriculum and Assessment Center for further investigation.  In order to avoid serious consequences for students, it is best to supervise students closely to ensure that they are following a responsible, legal and ethical approach in their ITGS project development. This is not only important for their ITGS project, but also as the approach they should take in their future university work and in professional careers.