Tutor Profile: Interview With Alex Lee Hong Sin

Interview With Alex Lee Hong Sin
Interview by Azahar Ahmad Nizar (azahar_ahmad@oum.edu.my)

ALEX LEE HONG SIN is a highly qualifi ed tutor and experienced module writer based in our Perak Learning Centre.

Azahar: Please describe your educational background.

Alex: I graduated with a double major degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Campbell University, US in 1992. I worked in the information technology industry for ten years and in the education industry for eight years. I enrolled at Open University Malaysia (OUM) in 2005 and graduated in July 2007 with a Masters in Information Technology.

Azahar: What is your tutoring experience like in OUM?

Alex: It has been an awesome and challenging experience. I am able to connect with the learners at their level of interest and experience due to my industrial experience. This helps me to understand my learners and their work commitments. We are able to draw on our work experiences and apply concepts to help solve problems and come up with alternative solutions. I hope the learners will study hard and be persistent in fi nishing their programme while enjoying the journey.

Azahar: What do you understand by “plagiarism”?

Alex: My defi nition of “plagiarism” is copying or using (digitally or non-digitally) an author’s ideas or research fi ndings without precisely acknowledging the author in your work.

Azahar: Why do you think learners plagiarise?

Alex: Firstly, I think learners plagiarise out of their ignorance of the seriousness of the offence. Secondly, learners are anxious about expressing their own ideas because of poor command of the English language. Lastly, learners lack confi dence when it comes to justifying their recommendations through constructive argumentation.

Azahar: In your experience, how is plagiarism detected in your learners’ work?

Alex: There are plenty of software and online websites which we can use to check for plagiarism, provided that the coursework is submitted in digital format. There are free downloadable anti-plagiarism software, but these may not be as effective as the paid ones. For hardcopy assignments, the tutor is required to analyse the sentence structure, grammar, choice of words and context.

Azahar: If learners continue to plagiarise, how will this affect their learning?

Alex: If learners continue to plagiarise, they will not be able to express themselves well and create their own ideas. In Bloom’s taxonomy, there is a cognitive level called “synthesis” in which the learners are required to read, understand and digest the content. They are supposed to think critically to generate new ideas based on the original ideas of other scholars.

Azahar: What steps should be taken to ensure that learners refrain from plagiarising?

Alex: On the fi rst day of tutorials, we should inform them of the seriousness of the offence and that they will be punished severely if found cheating. I usually ask my learners to sign a written letter stating that they will not plagiarise their coursework or risk failure. We should guide our learners by showing them samples of plagiarised work as compared to properly cited ones. Those who refrain from plagiarism should be rewarded accordingly.

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I can educate my learners about the wrongfulness of plagiarism by:

setting a good example i.e. not committing plagiarism myself in the notes or materials that I give them
teaching them the correct way to quote references in their assignments
explaining to them the difference between original work and plagiarised work
severely penalising them whenever they hand in plagiarised work
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