Celebrating a Small Win

We achieved some small wins on our 3rd international day of action against contract cheating providers. We had our largest number of registered institutions since we started the DOA in 2016 – 88 institutions in total. And these participants were global – located in Africa, Australia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America, and the UK. We reached thousands of users and made thousands of impressions on the DOA with the #defeatthecheat and #excelwithintegrity hashtags. 800 people signed our first ever Pledge Against Contract Cheating (thanks to Turnitin’s collaboration), and we were only shooting for 500! And the activities across the world looked engaging and worthwhile. Just check out our page or search in twitter using #defeatthecheat and #excelwithintegrity hashtags to see news and photos of some of these events.

At institutions around the world (e.g., American University of Nigeria, Bow Valley College, Majan College, Rio Salado College, Seneca College, University of Waterloo), students were educated on contract cheating, signed the pledge against contract cheating, and declared their own intent to #excelwithintegrity on whiteboards which were then snapshot and posted.

Faculty were invited to workshops or presentations to help them understand, prevent and detect contract cheating and create cultures of integrity at institutions like UC San Diego, Universityof Calgary, European Network for Academic Integrity, University of Wollongong (both in Australia & Dubai!). Our DOA received attention from the news media as well as celebrated publishing outfits like University Affairs (Canada), Times Higher Education (UK), and BioMed Central (UK).

 

And, GSM London even published a board game under a creative commons license for us all to use on our own institutions!

 

These small wins on the DOA do not stand alone in their significance. There are small wins continually occurring all over the world in our fight against contract cheating providers. There is some important and useful research coming out of Australia thanks to funding from the Australian government and the research team led by Tracey Bretag of University of South Australia. The UK petition against the contract cheating providers (what the Brits call “essay mill cheating services”) has over 55,000 signatures. And Turnitin is getting ready to release a product that should help faculty detect contract cheating.

And yet, contract cheating providers are still operating. Students are still paying them to write their papers, sit their exams, and complete their theses and dissertations. And so business is good for these providers. Dismantling the contract cheating industry will be hard. It will be contentious. And it will be tiring.

So, dismantling the contract cheating industry will be the BIG WIN. We won’t achieve that BIG WIN in one day of action per year, or within one country’s efforts to tackle the providers. Instead we will achieve that BIG WIN with one small win at a time.

Rosabeth Kanter – author of “when a thousand flowers bloom” and a great influencer of my own thinker reminds us that “If world problems feel too big to tackle, think small. Step by step. Small wins build confidence, lead the way to change.” We cannot institutionalize academic integrity by only acting on one day. But, this one day push may cause a thousand more flowers to bloom than would have bloomed before. And when thousands upon thousands of flowers bloom, the landscape will change.

Together, our small wins will change the landscape of education. Together, we will continue to plant the seeds of integrity within our communities. Then together we must condition the teaching and learning soil so the seeds have nourishment off of which to feed. And finally, if together we foster institutional environments that support integrity propagation, we will be able to fight the forces that seek to destroy true and meaningful education.

On that note, let us continue to seek small wins in our fight for the integrity of education around the globe. Sign up today to participate in the 4th International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. And, document your small wins at our website so others can glean ideas and inspiration from you.

I’ll end with this quote with an important reminder from notable organizational theorist and “small wins” guru Karl Weick that small wins do matter:

A small win is a concrete, complete, implemented outcome of moderate importance. By itself, one small win may seem unimportant. A series of wins at small but significant tasks, however, reveals a pattern that may attract allies, deter opponents, and lower resistance to subsequent proposals. Small wins are controllable opportunities that produce visible results.

About the Author
Tricia Bertram Gallant, Ph.D. is the author of Academic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century: A Teaching and Learning Imperative (Jossey-Bass, 2008), co-author of Cheating in School: What We Know and What We Can Do (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), editor of Creating the Ethical Academy: A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct & Empowering Change in Higher Education (Routledge, 2011), and section editor for the Handbook of Academic Integrity (Springer, 2016). She is the Director of the UC San Diego Academic Integrity Office and Board Member of the International Center for Academic Integrity, and has been an ethics lecturer with the Rady School of Management. When Tricia blogs, the content is hers and should not be attributed to her employer or ICAI.
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