Research Crisis in Pakistani Higher Education: The Issue of Assessment and Plagiarism

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Muhammad Umer, Hashim Khan, Falak Naz Khan


Higher education in Pakistan is faced with multiple challenges. The most significant among them is the absence of creativity in students' work in higher education institutions (HEIs) and the lack of seriousness on the part of teachers in encouraging students to be original in their work. This is manifest in how students’ learning is assessed and how students study when they are preparing for assessment tasks. The purpose of this research was to explore the adherence of Pakistani HEIs to plagiarism principles and the extent to which learners benefit from assignments as a formative assessment tool. A public sector university was selected as a case study and its English-major learners (N # 160) of four semesters, i.e., 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th, were selected as a purposeful sample. 119 students participated in the research with 101 valid responses. The data was obtained through a student questionnaire on the 5 point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree). The questionnaire included both open-ended and close-ended questions. The quantitative data was analyzed through SPSS for frequencies and percentages, whereas the qualitative data was subjected to thematic analysis. The findings revealed that plagiarism at undergraduate level is not taken as an academic crime. Assignments that include copied materials from the internet and other sources, receive good grades. Students are even unaware of what constitutes plagiarism. Thus, they graduate with wrong learning beliefs and poor learning behaviors. Therefore, it is suggested that HEIs should have a clear policy and mechanism to ascertain that assignments that students submit are not plagiarized and reflect learners’ true academic writing proficiency.  

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