Navigating Source Code Plagiarism Challenges: Strategies to Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 Disruptions




computer programming, source code plagiarism (SCP), source code plagiarism detection (SCPD), theories on behaviour and decision-making


In South Africa, the immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a hard lockdown, which shocked the educational community.  The disruption to teaching and learning was particularly profound for first-year computing students, especially those with disadvantaged backgrounds. One of the biggest impacts of emergency remote teaching and learning was on assessment, which is widely regarded as the driving force of learning, particularly in the programming context. Source code plagiarism emerged as a prevalent practice during the pandemic due to the challenges students face, including infrastructure limitations, learning in isolation, and the opportunities presented by online continuous assessment practices. Through an empirical study, the authors, as academics, investigated the occurrence of source code plagiarism during the COVID-19 lockdown period, along with the transition required to adjust to a post-COVID setting. The different theories that drive behaviour and decision-making in this context are analysed, and qualitative data is collected using open-ended questionnaires. Findings yield vital recommendations for the mitigation of source code plagiarism. Reflecting on the findings suggests that engaging students on source code plagiarism can assist in establishing shared norms, playing a positive role in reducing source code plagiarism. This is necessary, especially with the recent introduction of artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT, which may take source code plagiarism to a new level. Academics face long-term challenges and exciting opportunities in addressing source code plagiarism issues in the post-COVID context of integrating online and face-to-face modalities.

Author Biography

Imelda Smit, North-West University

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Sciences and Information Systems

Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

North-West University


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How to Cite

du Plessis, Linda, and Imelda Smit. “Navigating Source Code Plagiarism Challenges: Strategies to Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 Disruptions”. Progressio, 18 pages.



Themed Section 1
Received 2023-05-13
Accepted 2024-03-05
Published 2024-04-04