2022

Managing student academic misconduct cases can be challenging and frustrating for practitioners and faculty alike, and case resolution may come to an impasse with a student for no clear reason. When these issues arise, we often rely on mediation techniques from other disciplines. Neuroscience may be used to assist in mediation and is transferrable to the management of academic integrity cases. When practitioners and faculty approach academic misconduct with an open mind, they may find they resolve cases with understanding. The SCARF Model* and the Ladder of Inference** are two such theories.

The SCARF Model was popularized by David Rock in 2008. Rock argues that people respond using their fight or flight response when confronted with threats to the five domains of our social behavior,:

Status: how people view themselves relative to others.

Certainty: understanding the possible outcomes of a situation.

Autonomy: control over a particular situation.

Relatedness: connection and safety with others.

Fairness: perceptions of fairness.

When applying this to academic integrity case management, we can see why students may deny cheating in the face of clear evidence of cheating. The threat to their perception of themselves as a good student and a good person may be challenged when faced with the label of “cheater.” Similarly, they may feel the situation is out of control and that they have no clear idea of what was going to happen next. With an accusation of cheating, they may be facing a disconnection with their faculty and peers, like an island standing alone in the face of a process they do not understand. Finally, when face-to-face with their faculty or academic integrity practitioners, a student may react poorly if they perceive unfairness. We must strive to be open and to allow students to share their experience to fully understand their perspective on what occurred and whether it constitutes academic misconduct.

Another model for consideration is the Ladder of Inference. At the bottom of the ladder is the data and facts, and the next rung includes perceptions of that information. This is followed by assumptions, beliefs, and actions. Essentially, it is a model of decision-making. When handling cases of academic misconduct, be aware of where you are on the ladder. When practitioners and faculty walk into those meetings, start back at the lowest rung. Present the information you have and allow the student to share their data. Once you have all the information, then you should evaluate your perceptions and assumptions. Were they correct? Did the new data change your perceptions? Once everyone is on the same page with the data and assumptions, you can move up the ladder to determine what you believe happened and how to handle it.

Have you used any neuroscience to help with difficult cases? Tell us about it on Twitter @TweetCAI or by using Facebook or Instagram.


*If you are interested in learning more about SCARF, this YouTube Video provides some useful background information.

**If you are interested in learning more about the Ladder of Inference, this YouTube Video provides some useful background information.

It was early in the Spring 2021 semester; COVID was raging across the United States, and most of us were working from home. As a remote worker (Assistant Director of the Office of Academic Integrity at the University at Buffalo), I regularly spoke to my Director and two graduate assistants, but as time went on, we were curious about what was happening out there on virtual college campuses in our region and across the world. We were also disheartened that no conferences would be in person, and we hadn’t seen our colleagues since the ICAI conference in Portland, Oregon in March 2020 (one week prior to the world shutting down). Within this context, we reached out to a few academic integrity connections in our home state of New York – would they be interested in meeting for a Zoom call? The answer was a resounding YES! 

The inaugural meeting of the ICAI Northeast Regional Affiliate occurred via Zoom on April 28, 2021 with five academic integrity professionals: two from the University at Buffalo, two from Binghamton University, and one from the University at Rochester. We discussed the need for a regional group, the differences between our institutional policies, how to deal with group chat violations, Chegg concerns, and appropriate paraphrasing. We started a Google doc to share materials that might be helpful to each other, and we agreed to meet the last Wednesday morning of every month. 

With a few summer/winter breaks, we’ve kept the promise to meet monthly. For the past 17 months, our group has grown to include 18 institutions across a couple of states, and the conversations keep getting better every month. We discuss sticky situations (graduate students presenting plagiarized material at conferences), faculty buy-in of policies (or not), proactive initiatives (ambassadors and meme contests), and everything in between. There are core members who always attend, and other members who float in and out as time permits. What doesn’t change is the passion with which all of us approach academic honesty. 

One of the things that I’ve learned through our meetings is that academic integrity professionals are good people. Truly, they are. Most of our regional conversations center around how to educate students about expectations, how to nurture their abilities to self-reflect, how to help them make better decisions, and how to clarify the consequences of their actions. I haven’t met one professional who is in this line of work to solely punish. The nature of our labor may involve sanctioning, but we find ways to turn a difficult event into an educational experience. Sharing our educational practices benefits all institutions and improves our own practices.

Another major take-away is that our labor is varied. Some institutions have honor boards, some have offices, and some have professors who take on academic integrity work in addition to their faculty role. This doesn’t just come down to policy differences. More importantly, it involves the structure of our institutions. Are we faculty? Staff? Administration? Are we on the student affairs side of the house or the academic? Do we have the authority to make decisions, or will the ultimate sanctioning be passed up another level? So many differences make it difficult to find the people who do this work, but our regional meetings attract them and make our own labor more visible.

Sometimes academic integrity work can be lonely, exhausting, and mentally challenging, but knowing I have colleagues who are willing to share their expertise is encouraging. I’ve developed friendships within our group that would have never been possible pre-COVID, so for that alone, I am grateful. I look forward every month to our discussions and encourage each of you to find a community who speaks this language. Reach out to another institution across town. Forge a friendship and invite others. You won’t have a hard sell; most academic integrity professionals are operating by themselves. I know that my own professional growth is greatly enriched by my interactions with regional colleagues. Don’t be afraid to set up a Zoom call, take it slowly, and see where it leads.

 

*Field of Dreams. (1989).  Universal Pictures.

At the beginning of this semester, I went to a program orientation for new doctoral students at my university to speak about the university’s academic honesty policy. I had a rich discussion with the students about different cheating scenarios based on those that occurred at our institution, including the complexities of prohibited and permitted conduct. Upon concluding my presentation, I thought it went really well, and I was satisfied.

After the presentation, I was invited to have lunch with all students and the present faculty. As I stood in line with some students to grab lunch from the buffet, I began a conversation with two of them. They thanked me for the presentation and told me that now they are scared enough to be careful. I was a little surprised by this response. I realized that I might have scared students rather than empowering them. This was not my intention. I wanted them to feel informed about the academic honesty policy and more confident to do great academic work without accidentally getting into cheating territory. Instead, I had to wonder whether these students now saw the academic honesty policy as a complex law that can be easily violated and the Office of Academic Honesty as some sort of a law enforcement agency that would track their every written word.

A couple of weeks later, I attended a training session for new academic honesty student panelists at my university. At the beginning of the training, the new panelists were asked what academic integrity means for them. Here are of what their responses:

  • “Academic integrity is about equity.”
  • “Academic integrity is about commitment to your own work.”
  • “Academic integrity is about not cheating your way through med school.”
  • “You wanna know what you’re doing in your job.”
  • “You have to do the work if you wanna apply it at some point.”
  • “I joined this university because it has a great reputation, and I don’t want this reputation to be spoiled.”

Most notably for me, however, was what wasn’t said. Nobody in the room talked about academic integrity as avoiding conduct that could be seen as a violation of an arbitrary policy, and nobody expressed fear of being punished by the Office of Academic Honesty when doing something wrong. Instead, everybody spoke about academic integrity in positive terms. The students connected academic integrity to the value of a degree, fairness and equity, one’s own reputation and that of the university, and being prepared for their careers. Although some research suggests that most students do not care much about academic integrity or only follow academic integrity policies if it is beneficial to them (Christensen Hughes, 2017; Packalen & Rowbotham, 2022), some seem to not necessarily think first of a policy they must obey to when asked about academic integrity. Apparently, they rather think of an ethical standard that elevates the value of their education, gives them pride, and prepares them for their professional roles in the future.

In the following days and weeks, I thought more about this issue, and I started to formulate guidelines for myself and for the work that I am doing at the Office of Academic Honesty. These guidelines, I thought to myself, need to focus on the positive aspects of academic integrity education, and not on the administrative aspect of sanctioning students if they commit academic misconduct. Here is what I developed:

  • The goal of academic integrity education is to empower students and faculty, and it must avoid scaring anybody of the academic integrity policy and the Office of Academic Honesty.
  • Instead of potentially scaring students of the consequences of academic misconduct, they need to be motivated to produce their best work by upholding the Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity (ICAI, 2021).
  • Students must not fear potentially plagiarizing if they make a mistake in their writing. Instead, they need to be educated (or motivated to educate themselves) on how to cite sources and paraphrase information correctly.
  • Students must not fear potentially colluding when they work with others. Instead, they need to be engaged in conversations about the differences between collaboration and collusion and taught how to collaborate in the most effective ways.
  • Instead of warning students of stealing the academic work of others and fabricating or falsifying data, they need to be encouraged to contribute to research and the global knowledge base, and they need to be reminded of the pride that comes with producing original academic work.

I’m not trying to say that students don’t need to be warned about the consequences of academic misconduct, but the positive aspects of academic integrity should always be front and center when educating students about academic honesty.

If you have formulated guidelines like the ones above for yourself, share them with us by tweeting @TweetCAI or sharing with us on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

References:

  • Christensen Hughes, J. (2017). Understanding academic misconduct: Creating robust cultures of integrity. Paper presented at the University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. http://hdl.handle.net/1880/110083
  • International Center for Academic Integrity [ICAI]. (2021). The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity (3rd ed.). https://academicintegrity.org/images/pdfs/20019_ICAI-Fundamental-Values_R12.pdf
  • Packalen, K. A., & Rowbotham, K. (2022). Student Insight on Academic Integrity. In S. E. Eaton & J. C. Hughes (Eds.), Academic integrity in Canada: An enduring and essential challenge (pp. 353-375). Cham: Springer.

Networking consortia within the ICAI connect people interested in academic integrity. “This networking activity stimulates the academic integrity movement in focused areas, while also enhancing the global movement.” The revitalization of Southeast region over the last three years began with assistance from institutions in Georgia and Florida, but the new initiatives from the Southeast Consortium hope to expand the group across the entire Southeast. One of these initiatives are the monthly Academic Integri-TEA Talks.

Southeast consortium members can grab their coffee or sweet tea and meet with other faculty and practitioners to talk collaboratively about issues they are facing in their classes and across their digital and physical campuses. A different regional member facilitates each talk, and the format of the focused on opening a dialogue rather than mimicking a conference presentation. It is an opportunity to collaborate, troubleshoot, and share resources between peers. In August, the discussion covered student training: How do we ensure that students are prepared to serve with academic integrity offices? Each institution had different tactics to protect student privacy, develop student skills, and manage student time commitments and expectations. However, together the region found common ground and shared ideas across institutional lines to build stronger student engagement opportunities. Future talks are already scheduled, and they will focus on proctoring and contract cheating. Southeast members should submit ideas and help choose future topics that are relevant to the challenges facing their institutions!

Because conduct offices are often small – some universities and colleges may only have one person working specifically with academic integrity initiatives – building our community is vital. Opportunities to discuss challenges and helping peers find solutions can be difficult to find, and the Integri-TEA talks are one avenue for building relationships. For those that want to keep the conversation going, the Southeast will also be hosting online forums for members to comment.

Interested in joining a networking consortium? Click here to learn more. Tell us what you would want to discuss in an IntegriTEA talk by tweeting @TweetCAI, or find us on Instagram or Facebook.

As many of us ready ourselves for the fall semester in the coming weeks, faculty are designing syllabi and students are anxiously mapping out daily schedules. Meanwhile, academic integrity practitioners are … wrapping up summer misconduct cases waiting for the fall breaches to roll in.

Instead of dwelling on the number of incoming cases, I am choosing to focus on the goals my office has to educate students on campus. Using the GOST method that my spouse uses to teach his students, I am creating goals for outreach. GOST breaks down goals into objectives, strategies, and tactics. Starting with the goal, this overarching, high-level concept is where I began the process. I then developed my objectives for this goal. In other words, what were specific and measurable targets that will help me reach my goal. These three objectives each have their own strategies, or plans of action, for reaching them. In turn, each strategy has its own tangible and specific action item(s).

If you are like me, you might find this visualization more helpful: 

GOAL

The steps for GOST – with examples from my own list – are below:

G: goal – Main, overarching target

Improve student awareness and understanding of academic integrity on campus

O: objectives – Specific & measurable target

O1: Double the number of peer educators for fall 2023 enrollment

O2: Increase the number of peer-to-peer education contact hours by 25% in the fall and spring semesters compared to the previous year

O3: Increase faculty utilization of the online module by 50%  in the fall and spring semesters compared to the previous year

S: strategies – Plan of action

O1-S1: Create pipeline between administrators and incoming students looking for extracurriculars

O1-S2: Develop communication strategy for program promotion

O2-S3: Develop content strategy for additional peer-to-peer education events

O2-S4: Coordinate additional opportunities for peer-to-peer education events

O3-S5: Communicate with faculty regarding the online academic integrity module

T: tactics – Tangible Actions

S1-T1: E-mail academic advisors with semester updates and information on what activities peer educators engage in with their fellow students

S1-T2: Request nominees from department chairs

S1-T3: Engage with former peer educators and ask them to promote the program to their internal networks

S2-T4: Partner with student organizations to use their social media for events and recruitment

S2-T5: Incentivize program participation

S3-T6: Work with peer educators to create games and interactive experiences for students

S4-T7: Liaise between peer educators and university offices to find spaces and dates to engage with students on academic integrity topics for a set number of contact hours

S5-T8: Send information to faculty using department chairs, faculty newsletters, and internal correspondence lists

S5-T9: Follow up with faculty that use the module for suggestions for improvement/facilitating what would help them continue to use and promote the module in their circles

Share your goals on Facebook, Instagram, or on Twitter. Tell us what you are planning to make your year a success!

 

Interested in GOST? These websites may help you:

Pedagogic materials represent an ideal forum for promoting the importance of academic integrity as a central concept in higher education, and we recently welcomed the opportunity to reinforce knowledge and skills around academic integrity when developing an open textbook for university-level writing courses. The book, entitled Intermediate College Writing: Building and Practicing Mindful Writing Skills (Atkinson & Corbitt, 2022a), is available on the OER Commons (https://www.oercommons.org/courses/intermediate-college-writing-building-and-practicing-mindful-writing-skills) and Open Textbook Library (https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/textbooks/1193) and has been released with a Creative Commons license that allows users to freely adopt, adapt, build upon, and redistribute its material with attribution for non-commercial purposes. The open permissions associated with the textbook mean that instructors and students have access to a free educational resource that intentionally addresses academic integrity topics from a variety of vantage points. In this post, we explain the rationale for our textbook design decisions.

The high cost of some commercially produced textbooks can prohibit students from buying the texts or cause them to delay purchases until adequate funding becomes available (Florida Virtual Campus, 2019; Nagle & Vitez, 2020), and we posit that this situation may have knock-on effects when it comes to academic integrity. For instance, if students in a writing course are assigned textbook reading and given homework based on textbook material during the early weeks of a semester but cannot afford their books, they may be left to navigate academic integrity issues on their own without explicit textbook guidance in this area. Of course, they might consult other resources to discern the meaning and practical implications of academic integrity, but without focused textbook guidance, they may also be left wondering how to connect what they learn to particular course content. Undergraduate students, in particular, may benefit from explicit academic integrity guidance as they learn to operate within unfamiliar disciplines and academic systems.

When producing chapters for our open textbook, we counted academic integrity as a design principle, an idea that inspired and delimited the scope of textbook material, to help center our writing efforts. The principle, in other words, helped stimulate the creation of textbook content and anchor the readings and exercises built into chapters. Adopting a needs-analysis approach popularized in the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) materials-development literature (see, e.g., Hamp-Lyons, 2011), we drew upon our classroom teaching experiences to identify academic integrity-focused elements that university students often struggle with—such as paraphrasing and summarizing, citing and referencing, and integrating source material into papers—as well as items that students might be somewhat familiar with but hesitant to acknowledge publicly, including plagiarism by dual submission, contract cheating, and course assistance websites, to develop textbook material that explicitly addressed the matters and encouraged students to think carefully about their significance in higher education and beyond.

Recognizing that instructors and students might pick and choose from among the textbook’s units rather than use the complete book, we decided to build an academic integrity element into nearly every chapter to promote the importance of the concept through varied repetition (see also Atkinson & Corbitt, 2022b). Varied repetition is a textbook design principle endorsed by Timmis (2016, p. 152) and used by the two authors in Atkinson’s (2021) study of textbook development expertise; when using varied repetition, a materials developer highlights key concepts and information through various treatments in different areas of a textbook. The importance of the information is thus emphasized to students as they revisit the material multiple times, albeit in different ways, and contemplate its complexities through readings and hands-on activities.

We also built reflection opportunities that focused on academic integrity into textbook chapters—for instance, prompts that asked students to record their questions about the topic and identify reliable sources they could turn to for answers—in order to encourage active engagement with textbook content and metacognitive processing. As part of this effort, we incorporated fillable blank text boxes into chapters to purposefully involve students in textbook activities (see also Atkinson & Corbitt, 2022b). Mathematics task designer J. Ridgway (personal communication, as cited in Samuda, 2005, p. 245) referred to these blank text boxes as “‘structured stationery,’” and Samuda (2005, p. 245), a materials design researcher, referenced them as a mechanism to encourage learner engagement with lesson materials when she wrote about pedagogic task design for English language teaching. Coverage of academic integrity is part and parcel of a university-level writing course, and we wanted to draw attention to patchwriting, inadequately paraphrasing by replacing a few words in an original text with synonyms, as a key topic and expand beyond that realm to address other forms of academic dishonesty, such as contract cheating and course assistance websites. The purpose was to intentionally raise awareness of the topics and ask students to think about them in relation to their own writing lives.

The open textbook project discussed herein gave us the opportunity to consider chapter development through an academic integrity lens and produce a learning and teaching resource that students and instructors can readily access for free. We plan to begin using the textbook in classes at Montana Technological University in the fall and hope others will benefit from its deliberate focus on academic integrity and emphasis on student engagement.  

References

Atkinson, D. (2021). Reconciling opposites to reach compromise during ELT textbook development. Language Teaching Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/13621688211040201

Atkinson, D., & Corbitt, S. (2022a). Intermediate college writing: Building and practicing mindful writing skills. Montana Technological University. https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/textbooks/1193

Atkinson, D., & Corbitt, S. (2022b). Tracing the influences of praxis on the development of an open corequisite writing textbook [Manuscript submitted for publication]. Writing Program, Montana Technological University.

Florida Virtual Campus. (2019, March 8). 2018 student textbook and course materials survey: Results and findings. https://dlss.flvc.org/documents/210036/1314923/2018+Student+Textbook+and+Course+Materials+Survey+Report+--+FINAL+VERSION+--+20190308.pdf/07478d85-89c2-3742-209a-9cc5df8cd7ea

Hamp-Lyons, L. (2011). English for academic purposes. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning: Volume II (pp. 89-105). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203836507

Nagle, C., & Vitez, K. (2020). Fixing the broken textbook market (2nd ed.). U.S. PIRG Education Fund. https://studentpirgs.org/2020/06/08/fixing-the-broken-textbook-market/

Samuda, V. (2005). Expertise in pedagogic task design. In K. Johnson (Ed.), Expertise in second language learning and teaching (pp. 230-254). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230523470_12

Timmis, I. (2016). Humanising coursebook dialogues. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 10(2), 144–153. https://doi.org/10.1080/17501229.2015.1090998

La pandemia trajo consigo grandes retos para la docencia. Súbitamente tuvimos que comenzar a impartir clases en línea luchando, muchas veces perdiendo la batalla, contra los dispositivos electrónicos para capturar la atención del estudiante y diseñar instrumentos que nos permitieran evaluar el aprendizaje en un ambiente donde toda la información se puede encontrar en internet y donde no existe la presencialidad que nos permitía “vigilar” que no se estuvieran cometiendo deshonestidades académicas. Fui testiga de colegas (y estudiantes) exhaustos después de exámenes en línea en los cuales se les obligaba a prender cámaras, abrir micrófonos y mostrar su entorno a través del video. ¿Es esta la mejor manera de asegurar  el aprendizaje con integridad académica? ¿Qué mensaje estamos dando al crear este tipo de políticas de control en el aula de clase, sea física o virtual?

Emmanuel Kant nos ofrece dos de los principios más importantes para el actuar ético. La filosofía kantiana se basa en el deber ser de los actos y en el respeto a la dignidad de las personas, es decir su valor, su autonomía y su libertad. ¿Qué asumimos consciente o inconscientemente cuando imponemos medidas de control tan estrictas y podría decirse, invasivas, sobre nuestros estudiantes? El primer imperativo categórico de Kant, “actúa de manera tal manera que la máxima de tu conducta pueda convertirse en ley universal”, nos invita a reflexionar sobre la universalidad (¿qué pasaría si todos los docentes actuáramos de la misma manera?) y reversibilidad de nuestros actos, docentes, en este caso (¿nos gustaría  trabajar en un ambiente de desconfianza, en el cual nuestros colegas y líderes asumen automáticamente que incurriremos en actos deshonestos? Si no es así, ¿por qué crear este ambiente para otros?).

Ahora, hay maneras de asegurar un aprendizaje con integridad académica en un ambiente de respeto y confianza mutua. A continuación comparto algunas estrategias que, en mi experiencia de docente de cursos de sostenibilidad y responsabilidad para estudiantes de primeros semestres, me han ayudado a fomentar un aprendizaje activo, prevenir actos de deshonestidad académica y evitar un desgaste innecesario a la hora de calificar:

  1. Presentar las expectativas de integridad académica en el primer día de clase. Para muchos de mi estudiantes será la primera vez que escuchen sobre este concepto por lo tanto dedico un tiempo razonable a discutir porqué es importante la integridad académica y cuáles son las consecuencias de incurrir en actos de deshonestidad en el curso. Trato de hacer este momento un espacio de debate y reflexión sobre la importancia de la cultura de la honestidad y legalidad en Latinoamérica.
  2. Diseñar instrumentos de evaluación que eviten la memorización o respuestas que puedan contestarse de manera correcta al azar (preguntas de falso/verdadero, opción múltiple). Cuando los cursos son de muchos estudiantes, diseño exámenes en los cuales las respuestas a preguntas cerradas se tengan que explicar brevemente; esto permite saber si el estudiante respondió con base en el estudio previo del material asignado. Otras estrategias incluyen la aplicación de conocimientos teóricos a situaciones reales, ensayos reflexivos sobre temas vistos en clase, reseñas críticas a documentales, o proyectos de aprendizaje en el servicio.
  3. Dar oportunidad de mejorar los trabajos entregados: usualmente requiero la entrega de un borrador antes de la entrega final de un trabajo parcial o final para dar guía y retroalimentación. Esto fomenta un ambiente de apertura y acompañamiento, por parte del profesor, y esfuerzo por parte del estudiante. Esta estrategia también me permite familiarizarme con el estilo y habilidades de escritura del estudiante y detectar si las entregas finales son hechas por el/ella o por terceros.
  4. Involucrar a los estudiantes en el diseño de los exámenes. Entre 10% y 20% de las preguntas de los exámenes son propuestas por los estudiantes. Esto requiere leer el material de estudio, seleccionar los conceptos que consideran más relevantes y diseñar entre 3 y 5 preguntas para el examen. Posteriormente se entrega al grupo una lista de preguntas revisada y aprobada por el profesor para su estudio.
  5. Premiar la honestidad: En exámenes de preguntas abiertas muchos estudiantes caen en la tentación de escribir cosas ajenas al material de estudio haciendo que el profesor gaste incontables horas leyendo y calificando respuestas sin sentido. Para disminuir este hábito invito a los estudiantes a dejar respuestas en blanco si no la saben, dándoles el 25% de los puntos correspondientes a la pregunta en lugar de cero puntos por “echar rollo” o “cantinflear”, como se dice en México.

Las anteriores estrategias me han ayudado a prevenir, más no eliminar las deshonestidades académicas; cuando estás ocurran el profesor debe honrar las políticas institucionales y el estudiante asumir las consecuencias de su actos. Es responsabilidad de nosotros profesores y profesoras asumir el reto de instaurar una cultura de estricto apego a la integridad, pero con justicia y respeto para todos.

To the Parents of Students Accused of Academic Misconduct,

This is not how I wanted to meet you. I hoped your student would see me during orientation and would heed the honor code. I hoped they would join our office and participate in programing to encourage academic integrity on campus. I dream of a day when my job is no longer necessary, when students always make the ethical choice. But – alas – they did not. Now, we find ourselves in this situation. They’ve been accused of cheating, and you’re upset. I get it. But here are some things you should probably know before reaching out to us:

  1. Please understand that I cannot discuss your child’s specific case with you without a signed waiver of FERPA. I know that you are paying for their college, but I cannot break federal law. If you would like an explanation of our office and the integrity process, I am happy to have this talk with you. I can’t tell you the outcome of the case, but your child can.
  2. Although as parents we do not wish to acknowledge this, there is a chance that your child did what they have been accused of doing. Please understand that faculty take no joy in accusing students of cheating. We strongly encourage you to read the honor code and the accusation. Although difficult, ask yourself … did your student do it?
  3. Let your student take responsibility for their actions. I understand your need to protect them. You love them, and you want to help them succeed. However, if you never let them face consequences, then your child will never grow into an adult capable of making complex ethical decisions. A bad grade in one course can certainly be seen as a serious consequence. But it is worse if students continue to cut corners. These students grow to be the businesspeople committing white collar crime (Lawson, 2004; Guerrero Dib et al., 2020), doctors and nurses incapable of treating their patients (LaDuke, 2013), engineers building bad bridges (Harding et al., 2004), and scientists publishing fabricated data.**

When you call to intervene for your child, please also remember that there is a person on the other side of the phone. A person that wanted your student to make the right choice when they turned in the assignment. But they may not have made the honest decision when completing their assignment, and now we’re here.

Will you let me do my job? Will you let me help your child learn how to learn and grow? Will you allow your child to be the adult they are purported to be, and take responsibility for their actions? Or will you tell me that it’s not a big deal and the institution should just let it go?

Remember, your student is watching you. They are learning from you. If you treat cheating like it doesn’t matter, what is to stop them from emulating you? Be an example for them.

Sincerely Yours,

A Student Academic Misconduct Officer

 

References:

Guerrero-Dib, J. G.,  Portales, L., & Heredia-Escorza, Y. (2020). Impact of academic integrity on workplace ethical behaviour. International Journal for Educational Integrity16(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-020-0051-3

Harding, T. S., Carpenter, D. D., Finelli, C. J., & Passow, H. J. (2004). Does Academic Dishonesty Relate to Unethical Behavior in Professional Practice? An Exploratory Study. Science & Engineering Ethics10(2), 311–324.

LaDuke, R. D. (2013). Academic Dishonesty Today, Unethical Practices Tomorrow? Journal of Professional Nursing29(6), 402–406. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.profnurs.2012.10.009

Lawson, R. A. (2004). Is classroom cheating related to business students propensity to cheat in the real world? Journal of Business Ethics, 49(2), 189.

**For a deeper look at retractions due to fabricated data, please visit the Retraction Watch Database. At the time of this posting, 99 articles have been listed as retracted from January 1, 2022 to July 5, 2022.

Se suele decir que el mal triunfa no por las personas que lo hacen, sino por la inactividad de las buenas personas. Es decir, por la falta de denuncia y de un posicionamiento claro. En este caso, la deshonestidad académica se instaura en una institución por la falta de denuncia y de una postura congruente de las personas honestas e íntegras. Pero esa falta de denuncia, muchas veces y casi me atrevería a afirmar que siempre, está ligada a una cultura de integridad y de denuncia de las injusticias. Una cultura de impunidad que incluso podemos ver socialmente y de la que todos en una u otra medida tenemos responsabilidad.

Por tanto, ¿cómo podemos impulsar un cambio cultural hacia una cultura de integridad? Para eso, hay que hacer un trabajo mucho más profundo que simplemente evitar plagios o controlar exámenes. Se trata de educar en valores. Mientras sigamos dando por bueno frases como “quién no transa, no avanza” o vivíamos bajo la ley del mínimo esfuerzo, dónde lo que importa es el resultado final, sin importar los medios para conseguirlo, no vamos a poder cambiar dicha cultura. Las universidades tenemos que convertirnos en ejemplos de la vivencia de valores vinculados a la integridad, como son, la honestidad, la confianza, la responsabilidad, el esfuerzo, el respeto o la lucha por las injusticias. Para ello, se deben de generar políticas institucionales alienados con mecanismos de denuncia y de sanción equitativos, justos y transparentes. A la par de inculcar esos valores a los docentes para que desde su actuar diario se socialicen dichos valores en las formas de impartir clase, en los contenidos seleccionados, en la resolución de conflictos, etc. Y finalmente recuperar el sentido de formación y aprendizaje universitario, que valora más el diálogo, la crítica, la reflexión y el aprendizaje, más que un resultado puntual.

Disclaimer: the author is not a physician nor a psychologist, and this post is satire masquerading as advice. Advice not guaranteed to work for everyone. The prescriptions offered in this post have not been evaluated by anyone with the credentials to prescribe such cures. 

Have you felt like you want to throw your printer against the wall because it keeps jamming? Or invading another’s territory because you believe like they’re doing it wrong? Do you find yourself binge watching netflix all day, feeling guilty about it but being unable to motivate yourself to do more? Are you painfully aware that you’re preaching one edict but practicing another?

You may be facing a condition known as Integrity Depletion Syndrome or IDS. IDS is defined by a doctor (okay, well, a Ph.D.; okay, well, me) as “having a lack of coherency between the different parts of yourself”. The symptoms vary by individual but can include listlessness, frustration, boredom, disquietness, weight gain (or loss), lack of energy, and a WTF moment upon reflecting back on your own choices and actions .

Integrity Depletion Syndrome is a serious condition affecting individuals, organizations, and society, and has many causes, but also, thankfully, cures.

Cause #1

Perhaps the most common cause is the repeated telling of lies to others like “oh no, your dog barking all day doesn’t bother me while I’m working from home”. Or, telling lies to the public such as “we’re not a cheating company, we’re an ed tech company”. Or, telling lies to yourself like “my weight gain isn’t from poor eating habits, drinking too much or not exercising, it’s just because I’m aging and so there’s nothing I can do about it”. These lies, scientifically known as rationalizations or justifications, enable us (at least in the short term) to live somewhat peacefully with our choices and decisions even though we are not living truthfully. Living in a prolonged state of such dishonesty, however, does eventually lead to IDS, which can deteriorate not just the self, but relationships and institutions.

Prescription #1 

Stop lying. Just Stop it. Face and tell the truth to yourself and others, no matter how difficult.

Cause #2

Another common cause of Integrity Depletion Syndrome is an obsession with performing rather than learning. The performative life approach means that you focus almost exclusively on tasks, mindlessly moving from one to another, treating yourself like a factory production line that has widgets to make. The most seriously afflicted spend more time making check-lists and checking things off the list, than they actually spend time on higher order activities. This mindless check-list mentality makes you temporarily feel good, until you realize that you are slowly transforming into one of those AI-bots that churns out assignments for students who don’t want to learn. To be sure, tasks need to be done, but a focus on performing your life rather than mastering your life can lead to boredom, binge watching netflix, vicariously living your life through others’ social media posts, and, yes, a severe case of IDS.

Prescription #2

Stop performing and start learning. Push yourself and get uncomfortable.

Cause #3

The third most potent cause of Integrity Depletion Syndrome is an unhealthy lifestyle. According to the renowned international health expert, Apple Watch, sleeping too little, eating too much, drinking too much, and not moving enough throughout the day are bad for you. To be fair, the Apple Watch might be onto something. Apparently there is some scientific evidence that your mind is connected to your body. What? I know, right! I think it’s got something to do with, like, blood, oxygen, and other hocus pocus words like “neuropathways”. Basically, if your body isn’t as healthy as it could be, then your mind is also not as healthy as it could be. And when our brains aren’t firing on all cylinders, it seems to be pretty tough to slowly and carefully thinking through how to unjam that printer, let alone to focus on higher order human needs like integrity, wholeness, and purpose. 

Prescription #3

Practice mindfulness and experiment with the right eating and exercise routines that will help you find the healthy balance that works best for your body and brain. 

So, there you go. You are now more aware of this common and dreadful disease known as Integrity Depletion Syndrome. While it is dreadful, there is hope. If you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms of IDS, I urge you to act immediately by taking my prescriptions now before your syndrome worsens. You will feel more integrous before you know it!

Disclaimer: Results are individual and cannot be guaranteed. Side effects are unknown but could include happiness, tranquility, promotions, self-love, and self-fulfillment.