Curtis, G.J., Slade, C., Bretag, T., & McNeill, M. (2021) Developing and evaluating nationwide expert-delivered academic integrity workshops for higher education sector in Australia. Higher Education Research and Development, DOI: 10.1080 / 07294360.2021.1872057

Introduction

This research accompanied the rollout of national academic integrity workshops (19 in total) funded by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and facilitated by a small team of academic integrity researchers/practitioners, led by Professor Tracey Bretag. These workshops, held in late 2019, added to previous sector-wide academic integrity initiatives and preceded the development of a toolkit of resources, freely available on the TEQSA website.  Therefore, the workshops aimed to capitalise on existing academic integrity knowledge and practice across universities and independent higher education providers and to encourage a collaborative culture across the sector. Four hundred and fifty-two participants attended the three-hour workshops across 17 different locations. To the knowledge of the authors this is the first investigation of its kind, in assessing the impact of academic integrity workshops across a nation.

Research Approach

The goal of the research was to quantitatively measure participant learning related to the workshop content, rather than just their reactions to the workshop itself. Only one question related to participant reactions. The response rate was 75.7%.  Short pre- and post-workshop surveys were given to participants that contained eight items as outlined in Table 1.  The surveys focused on awareness of key issues discussed in the workshops, the confidence levels participants had in their institutions’ academic integrity approach, and whether there were any changes across the items pre-and-post workshop.

Table 1: Awareness and confidence items used in the workshop surveys

Item No. Awareness of… How confident are you that your institution’s…
1 The Model Statement of Commitment to Academic Integrity Strategies will be able to mitigate academic integrity risks
2 Australian and International academic integrity research Staff can detect contract cheating
3 Your institutional policies and procedures Contract cheating responses are aligned with those recommended by the TEQSA Good Practice Guide
4 Ways to promote academic integrity Technology effectively supports academic integrity

 

Results

The research found that participants’ awareness increased for Items 1,2 & 4, particularly concerning academic integrity research (Item 2). The aggregated data here suggests that participants benefit from academic development workshops, led by expert facilitators with first-hand knowledge of the topics and teaching delivery skills.  Responses for Item 3, ‘Awareness of your institutional policies and procedures’ however, indicated decreased awareness, pre-and post-workshop. Reflection by the facilitators post-workshops suggests that as participants progressed through the workshop content, they may have realised that their institutions’ policy and procedures were lacking.

Questions around confidence levels was the second area investigated. Only a small increase in confidence was seen, which was influenced by institutional demographics, such as size and type. In particular, the research found, however, that confidence levels in participants from larger institutions were higher post-workshop than those from smaller institutions, with the former participants beginning the workshop with a significantly lower average confidence level.

Implications

The findings provide empirical evidence, based on pre-and post-workshop changes in both awareness and confidence concerning the workshop content. Further, it shows the benefit of one-off workshops in which participants can respond to content stimulus by reflecting on their institutional progress in addressing academic integrity issues, and the policy or practice areas that still need improvement. This research adds to the limited evidence of the efficacy of academic integrity professional development workshops for higher education institutional staff (both professional and academic) and adds empirical support to the scholarly discourse of improved effectiveness of such workshops if they are part of an overall sequence of themed academic development activities.

Conclusion

This study shows the potential of one-off workshops, led by experts in the field and part of a sequence of initiatives, can make substantial advances in participant awareness and confidence of academic integrity foundations and practices.

Acknowledgements

The author thanks TEQSA for their financial support for this work, and acknowledges the expertise of her colleagues, Professor Tracey BretagDr Guy Curtis and Dr Margot McNeill in developing and facilitating the workshops and toolkit of resources and undertaking this research. The author acknowledges the loss of Tracey who passed away in 2020. Her contribution to the sector and the field of academic integrity is greatly missed.