Integrity Matters

An ICAI Blog providing the latest insights about academic integrity



On Wednesday of this week, ICAI will host its 3rd International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. The purpose of the day is to share one day, around the world, where every educational institution will stand up and speak out against contract cheating. While we've not yet reached the goal of “every institution”, our hope is that each year a growing number will join a loud chorus of unified voices who aim to shine light on this disease invading educational systems. We also hope that this day of action will force action by political and educational leaders to finally take actions to eradicate the pervasive pathogen of the unscrupulous, unethical and unhelpful contract cheating providers.

In other wo...

In this second edition within my blog series on academic integrity policy, I want to address three common questions that arise when developing or revising institutional policies and procedures.

Are we going to have a Zero-Tolerance approach to cheating?

Zero-tolerance policies, once a popular experiment in educational behavioral modification starting in the 1980s through the early 2000s, can still be found in many institutional policies across the world.  Zero-to...

For the blog post this week, I asked Dr. Camilla Roberts, Kansas State University, to describe the Development & Integrity Course that many K-State students take after a violation of academic integrity. The course has existed since 2000 and provided inspiration to other Universities that now also offer similar type courses (e.g., University of California, San Diego). While coordinating and teaching such a course in-house requires some resources, the in-person, in-context learning after a violation can be extraordinarily beneficial for leveraging the cheating moment as a teachable moment. This might be experiential learning at its finest hour. ~ Tricia Bertram Gallant, Editor, Integrity Matters Blog


When students...

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.

Fake news.

This phrase is ubiquitous in traditional and contemporary media. It is, according to the Washington Post, regularly tweeted out by the US President and its use has spread globally as a weapon against not only free press but democracy. Just recently in Uganda, for example, a popular singer who has been an outspoken critic of political corruption in Uganda has been jailed by the President in a military facility but the President decries reports of the singer’s fate as “fake news”.

Is there a lot of cheating on our campus?  What’s a lot of cheating, anyway? Do students not know, or not care?  Is the internet making things worse? If you had asked these questions in the 1980’s, you might have received an answer, but it would have been at best an educated guess.  In 1990, Dr. Don McCabe started a career of groundbreaking research on academic integrity, which lasted until his retirement in 2014. It resulted in the creation of the leading assessment of academic integrity and hundreds of publications which answered questions like those above, and many others.  

Creating an effective and well-followed academic integrity policy at your institution does not have to be difficult, overly legalistic, or a chore to establish.  In the first post of a series on academic integrity policy, this details a process on how to establish the integrity values of your institution and a process to implement them with all stakeholders getting involved.