September 2018

Helping students understand academic integrity (AI) and how it applies to them is a difficult task. How do you engage students to learn about a topic they either think they know or one that they think doesn’t apply to them (i.e., they’ll never break the rules or cheat)?

The International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) is an oversight organization serving higher education, globally.   The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a United States (U.S.) based, non-governmental agency with international membership.  Administration, faculty, staff and some students at schools, colleges and universities are made aware when “accreditation” is looming.  Typical “accreditation” in the U.S. may be regional (i.e. WSCUC, SACS, etc.) or discipline specific (i.e. AACSB [Business and Accounting], CCNE [Nursing], etc.).

A colleague (Phil Newton) recently published an article in Frontiers in Education that has received a lot of press. “Students worldwide pay to cheat” and “1 in 7 college students pay people to write essays” are just two example headlines. The issue at hand is something we call “contract cheating” (coined by Thomas Lancaster & Robert Clarke), which can be defined as students arranging for another to complete academic assessments that they then submit for academic credit. The press has ignored the nuances in Phil’s article, so Phil will be writing a blog post later this year as a follow-up to his study and the press that covered it.

As we wrap up Labor Day weekend, we also wrap up the summer. Many schools and campuses are back in session already, while others will begin in September. At this time of the year, it is a good time to reflect on the question - what is the main message we want to send to our students, our faculty, our administrators and ourselves? At UC San Diego, that message is "excel with integrity". At a highly competitive university like UC San Diego, it is important to remind the entire community that there can be no excellence without integrity.