2022

I have been thinking a lot about the title of my most recent book, co-edited with Dr. David Rettinger: Cheating Academic Integrity: Lessons Learned from 30 Years of Research. Cheating academic integrity. I had to sell others on the title. It wasn’t an immediate hit. It caused people to pause. Hesitate. Wonder. But that’s exactly why I loved it. We have been cheating academic integrity for decades and that should certainly give us pause.

And by we, I mean all of us. The royal we. Parents, students, teachers at all educational levels, education administrators and leaders, journalists, our governments, and the larger society. To be sure, during two years of emergency remote instruction, attention to cheating spiked. More journalists covered the increase in reported cheating. More educators and educational leaders were talking about cheating. But we were still cheating academic integrity, giving it short shrift compared to the attention we were giving cheating, its arch nemesis. 

Take, for example, the very public debate about online proctoring that occurred during the pandemic. The debate centered on a typical old refrain - students are cheating and we need to stop them. That framing of the problem pitted pro-student and anti-cheating allies against one another. We can’t do online proctoring, said the pro-student side, because it is an affront to student privacy and undermines equity. Whereas those emphasizing anti-cheating doubled down on the “we have no choice” argument if the integrity of our assessments is to be trusted and assured. In general, at least in public opinion, the pro-student side was louder and online proctoring tools became suspect. But this entire debate cheated academic integrity because it was a false dichotomy, it artificially pitted anti-cheating and pro-students as adversaries when they are actually allies. It is pro-student to be against cheating. It is pro-integrity to be for privacy (aka respect) and equity (aka fairness). We cheated academic integrity by not having a thoughtful and informed conversation to answer this question - how do we best uphold integrity, privacy and equity?

Engaging in that thoughtful conversation would have highlighted that we were facing what Rushworth Kidder calls an ethical trilemma. In an ethical dilemma, we see two values clashing and feel the need to choose between them - to sacrifice one value for the other. However, this is a false dichotomy because often there is a third solution that could uphold all of the values at stake: the trilemma. To be sure, educational leaders and even some academic integrity experts (me included) advocated for a third solution that would uphold all 3 values, for example, the use of “authentic assessments” or redesigning classes to be mastery- (rather than performance-) oriented. However, there was little tangible support behind implementing such solutions. There was no time for faculty to redesign their assessments, let alone their courses. There was also likely little training or support to help them do so. So, while well-intended, the advice to "teach better" may not have been an actual feasible solution for most faculty. To be fair, we were in a hurry. It was a stressful time and many of us were stretched thin physically and emotionally. It was an untenable situation. I am not writing now as a Monday morning quarterback, but merely to call attention to the fact that we were cheating, and continue to cheat, academic integrity.

By and large, we cheat academic integrity by failing to teach students how to make good ethical decisions even when under stress and pressure. We fail to help students develop the courage to act ethically, even when it is difficult to do so. We fail to call attention to and celebrate people who are integrous and ethical, focusing instead on noticing and even sometimes glorifying the bad actors. We fail to teach students the connections between academic integrity, personal integrity, and professional integrity. We fail to appropriately respond to cheating when it does occur so that we may create a teachable moment. We fail to recognize that the ways in which we teach and assess learning is no longer sufficient for the realities of the twenty-first century (and haven’t been for quite some time). We fail to reorganize our priorities and what we reward within the education system, continuing to reward deliverables (e.g., grades, degrees, published works) that serve as false, or at least inadequate, proxies for good teaching and learning. We fail to emphasize academic integrity within quality assurance and accreditation requirements, as if a university or a degree without integrity is still worthy of such assurance. 

To be sure, lessons learned from the last thirty years of research tell us that there are pockets of hope and good practices implementation. There are many laudable efforts by those of us within the academic integrity field. The European Network for Academic Integrity and the International Center for Academic Integrity, among other associations and organizations, continue to advance research and practice. Even some governments - like those in the UK and Ireland - are fighting the good fight, as are some quality assurance agencies like QAA and TESQA.

Yet, to me, it still seems that we are trying to save our proverbial house that is on fire with a mere garden hose. Am I being too dramatic? Perhaps. I hope I am wrong and that our entire house - the educational system - isn't on fire. I hope that there exists only little fires here and there that can easily be put out with our current strategies. And I would welcome receiving evidence that this is true. After all, if we want to stop cheating academic integrity over the next 30 years, we must address the causes of the fire rather than continuing to operate in ways that light the fire of cheating and then wonder why we're getting burned.

Low angle view of four skyscrapers

            This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony on campus.  I was excited to be there to support some of my former students and to see them walk across the stage.  The importance of this ceremony as a major transition point was highlighted by the pageantry of the event and the words of the speakers.  Students were recognized for their accomplishments and were also reminded that a bright future awaits them. 

            As a faculty member, seeing the pride (and relief!) on the faces of graduating students was very motivating.  I will even admit that there is a possibility that I became a little misty-eyed when some of the students who had started in my class as freshmen took the stage.   It is truly an honor to get to play a small part in the development of these students.  It really makes you think about the impact that faculty members can have. 

            We, of course, want to help students to understand and be able to apply the content of our courses.  However, we are also helping to prepare these students to “leave the nest” and find their place in the world.  We want our students to think for themselves, to make decisions, and to use their own knowledge and skills to pursue their passions.  We want our students to grow into educated professionals who act ethically and with integrity.

            Studies have shown that there is a negative correlation between ethical behavior and the frequency in which an individual has participated in academic dishonesty.  In 2010, a study involving students from 6 different campuses showed an increase in the likelihood that students would engage in dishonest behaviors when they believed that these behaviors were acceptable.  These students were also found to be “more likely to engage in dishonest acts in the workplace” (Nonis & Swift, 2010).  A 2020 study involving undergraduate and graduate students at a private university in Mexico found that “the extent to which students perceived the committing of any kind of cheating within the university as severe, their behavior, both inside and outside the workplace, was more ethical” (Guerrero-Dib, Portales, & Heredia-Escorza, 2020).  This would suggest that making students aware of the importance of academic integrity as well as the consequences of dishonest behavior can have an impact on student behavior in our classes as well as in their future workplaces.  When we discuss the importance of academic integrity in our syllabus, in class on the first day, and throughout the semester, it is about more than just discouraging cheating in our classes.  It is a golden opportunity to help foster integrous and ethical behaviors that students will carry with them as the build their careers and their lives.

References

Guerrero-Dib, J. G., Portales, L., & Heredia-Escorza, Y. (2020, February). Impact of Academic Integrity on Workplace Ethical Behavior. International Journal for Educational Integrity. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-020-0051-3

Nonis, S., & Swift, C. O. (2010, March). An Examination of the Relationship Between Academic Dishonesty and Workplace Dishonesty: A Multicampus Investigation. Journal of Education for Business, 77(2), 69-77. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/08832320109599052

Stack of rocks in order of size with water in background

It’s no secret that students face a lot of pressure to do well in college – from parents, from friends, from a theoretical future employer or grad school, and from themselves. For freshman, they’re also experiencing a new environment, facing the challenge of finding new friends, and learning how to be successful in a much more challenging setting than in high school. In the dozens of academic integrity cases I have been involved in, the cause is typically not because the student is lazy. Rather, it is because they felt pressure to do well and didn’t feel like that was possible without the actions that brought them to me.

              As teachers, we often take a “holier-than-thou” stance in regards to academic integrity, though doing so ignores the basic economics of decision-making. “The traditional economic theory behind decision-making involves a cost-benefit analysis in which an individual measures what they stand to gain from a particular action—even if this action is morally wrong—as well as the probability and cost of being caught” (Adnani, M). This applies to the reader and author as much as it applies to students. Do you ever speed? Have you exaggerated on your taxes? Have you told a lie recently? If you have, the likelihood is that the reason why is because you believed that it would provide some sort of a benefit to you and the probability of being caught was low. Maybe you were late for dinner with friends and you blamed your poor time management on traffic. The benefit – being seen as someone who is timely – is minimal, but it’s unlikely anyone would question that lie, so the likelihood of being caught is very low. Our students put a very high value on doing well in college. Therefore, if they believe there is a benefit to a dishonest action and that they are unlikely to be caught, it is in their economic, though not moral, interest to do so. When the perceived alternative is failure, the moral obligation becomes easier to overlook.

              The solution to the economic conundrum is education and transparency. In a study of freshman students, Hossain (2022) found that merely 1 in 10 students received instruction in academic integrity literacy in middle school and only 1 in 5 did in high school. Regardless of whether it should be the responsibility of the college instructor to teach academic integrity literacy, it is essential for us to do so if we wish to prevent academic dishonesty. The retroactive approach of catching a student and punishing them provides a far less effective approach than preventing the dishonesty in the first place. To fully prepare students, instructors must make clear what constitutes academic dishonesty. For example, some instructors allow formula sheets on tests; others allow collaboration. While some issues, like plagiarism, are more universal, many others vary from instructor to instructor. Violations must be clear, written out, easily accessible, and discussed in class. This solves the knowledge piece, but that in and of itself is not enough. Students must know the consequences and the methods the instructor uses to ensure academic integrity. For example, in my classes, I use a response device for in-class quizzes. Students bringing an absent classmate’s response device is a common issue. To deter such behavior, I start class by posting a question and counting the number of students in the class. As they’re responding, a response counter is displayed on the screen. I announce the number of students in the class and the number left to respond. By doing this, I am demonstrating that I am paying attention to the number of students present and the number who are responding. I also explain to them how I will know who is not present if I find that there are more responses than students present. This grade represents 10% of their total course grade – which I remind them of frequently. If they’re caught sending their clicker with a friend when they are not present, they lose all 10%. The simple economics of this decision is an easy one. The benefit of one day’s points is not worth the risk of an entire letter grade when the teacher is transparent and closely monitoring the situation. This unfortunately does not deter all students. Some, unfortunately, overestimate the perceived benefit and/or underestimate the likelihood of being caught. Instructors cannot prevent all acts of dishonesty, but with education, transparency, and setting expectations, we can demonstrate that the economics are on the side of honesty.

Hossain,Z. (2022). University freshmen recollect their academic integrity literacy experience during their K-12 years: Results of an empirical study. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 18(1) doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-021-00096-4

Adnani, M. (2016). Why Do We Cheat? The Economics Review. https://theeconreview.com/2016/08/17/why-do-we-cheat/

Top-down view of a desk with a laptop, cup of coffee, and person writing on a notepad

Approximately 8 years ago, I built and launched an online College Algebra course for undergraduate students at a regional SEC University.  As I’ve continued to teach, modify, re-write, and re-design the course over the past 8 years, I’ve come to realize that promoting and maintaining high standards of academic integrity in online courses is a bit different than in my traditional in-person courses.

While it has been stated that academic integrity violations are probabilistically higher for student with lower GPA’s,  this is not absolute, and ‘good students’ cheat too (Cullen).  A 2019 study found that primarily adult students were no more likely to engage in most forms of cheating than traditional-age students in residential institutions (Harris, et al.).  For me, this evidence suggests that the single most important factor impacting my course is not the audience to which it will be addressed, but the content and design of the course itself.

For a mathematics course, students are expected to competently describe the mathematical concepts using proper vocabulary, solve problems using graphical and algebraic techniques, and be able to sufficiently defend their answers.  I have come to realize that the only time I am really interested in assessing student ability to do the aforementioned solely and completely on their own, is on exams.

First, and most importantly in my course design process, I wrote the final exam.  It contains a selection of what my state, college, department, colleagues, and myself deem to be the most essential concepts for which students should demonstrate mastery.   I, then, wrote smaller, more focused exams that pieced those final exam questions into groupings by concept.  Then I created a set of quizzes and homework assignments.  These demarked the ‘lessons’ for the course.  Lastly, I worked on how to ‘teach’ each lesson.  If you’re interested in learning more about backward design, check out Understanding By Design.

Exams serve as my focus for assessing student abilities, and my focus for maintaining academic integrity.  Everything else in the course is grouped into the ‘learning is messy’ category.  Students are encouraged to work together on everything else.  They are allowed multiple attempts on homework problems and quizzes.  These activities are where the learning happens.

In my course, there are three unit exams and then a comprehensive final exam.  The first exam in the course is completely open-book, open-notes.  I tell my students that the first exam is their opportunity to “see” and “feel” what an exam “is” in this course, with the safety net of having their notes available to them.  This releases some fear, and gives a bit of confidence heading into that first exam.  Subsequent exams and the final are not open-book, open-notes; so I encourage them to reflect upon that first testing experience and develop plans for how to continue (or start) being successful on future exams.  I should also mention, it is mathematically impossible to pass the course with only the homework, quizzes, and first exam.  Students are required to demonstrate their abilities on the more heavily weighted exams 2, 3, and final…which are proctored.

Deciding to proctor exam 2, 3, and final was an easy decision.  Teclehaimanot, You, Franz, Xiao, and Hochberg  Ensuring Academic Integrity in Online Courses (2018) studied 3 non-proctored testing scenarios to determine their effectiveness.  Their research concluded no statistical differences between the methods, while noting that these testing environments function as a substitute “if human proctored testing is not feasible”(p.52).  In my case, human proctored testing is feasible: ProctorU.  While not a perfect solution, it’s the closest thing to proctoring in an online class that I have been able to find. 

The final piece of my course design focused on academic integrity, is as simple as telling students about academic integrity.  They need to know where the ‘line’ is in order to stay on the correct side of said line.  A previous blog post Lesson From TikTok on Academic Integrity (Nov 2021) encouraged “creating academic communities where students are responsible for and take pride in [that community] while also holding others to a standard of accountability is the goal of academic integrity”.  To this end, documentation about academic integrity at my institution is included in my course.  It’s in the syllabus (my contract with students), it’s hyperlinked in my LMS, I mention it in my “welcome to the course” video and email, and it’s in a low-stakes course entry quiz that students complete on the opening day of the course. 

We all want our students to learn, that’s why we [and they] are here!  I want my students to know that learning is messy, and very often not an individual endeavor.  My course design reinforces that while individual demonstration of mastery is expected on exams, collaboration is allowed, and encouraged. 

References

Bowen, R. S.  (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved [todaysdate] from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/understanding-by-design/

Cullen, C. (2022, January 11). Good Students Cheat, Too. ICAI. https://academicintegrity.org/resources/blog/95-2022/january-2022/336-good-students-cheat-too

Harris, L., Harrison, D., McNally, D., & Ford, C. (2019). Academic integrity in an online culture: Do McCabe’s findings hold true for online, adult learners? Journal of Academic Ethics, , 1-16. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10805-019-09335-3

Parnther, C. (2021, November 8). Lessons from TikTok on Academic Integrity. ICAI. https://academicintegrity.org/resources/blog/73-2021/november-2021/321-lessons-from-tiktok-on-academic-integrity

Teclehaimanot, B., You, J., Franz, D. R., Xiao, M., & Hochberg, S. A. (2018). ENSURING ACADEMIC INTEGRITY IN ONLINE COURSES: A case analysis in three testing environments. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 19(1), 47-52,56-57. Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/ensuring-academic-integrity-online-courses-case/docview/2100336459/se-2?accountid=8361

Pink and Blue Plasma Ball

Last year, I had the opportunity to teach a section of College Algebra. In a conversation at the end of the semester, a student shared with me that this was the first math class in which she did not feel the need to cheat. I was a bit taken aback by her candid statement. For one thing, I was stunned that she referred to engaging an academic dishonesty so bluntly. For another, I was curious as to the reason that this class was different for her. So, I asked her why she felt that way. Her response was that she discovered that she could do the work and be successful on her own. She didn’t need to cheat because she was learning.  This, for me, was a huge statement. I wondered what had changed for this student and how could this situation be replicated for other students? Somehow, over the course of the semester, her self-efficacy regarding mathematics had increased.  She began to believe that she was in control of her performance in the class and her actions were meaningful.  Her motivation increased and, hence, the impulse to engage in academic dishonesty was lessened.

This interaction gave me much to think about.  We know that there is a connection between motivation and self-determination.  Individuals who are more self-determined are more confident and more motivated.  According to self-determination theory, the degree to which an individual believes that their choices matter in their lives is influenced by the fulfillment of three psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Cherry, 2021).  In the classroom, we can impact all three of these needs.  Hence, we can encourage self-determination, help to increase motivation, and foster academic integrity.

Autonomy involves the ability to make decisions and to feel independent.  We can encourage this sense of control by allowing students the freedom to make choices related to the course.  While many courses may not have the flexibility to allow students to choose the topic of discussion, there are ways to incorporate student choice.  Students can be involved in the creation of a set of class norms.  We can allow them the freedom of choosing their own groups for activities.  We might even allow students the freedom to choose the format of some assignment submissions, e.g., they could submit a written report or a video presentation.   The point is to allow the student the opportunity to make decisions to reduce feeling that they have no control.

Providing small opportunities for success early in the semester can serve to increase a students’ sense of competence or their belief that they possess the necessary skills to be successful.  These opportunities could be in the form of low-stakes assessments, small group activities, or even chances to answer questions in class. I like to use the Turning Technologies polling tool for in-class questions. I find that students get very excited when they get the correct answer.  As the old proverb states: success begets success. Doing well on an in-class question can go a long way in showing the student that they are able to do the work.  Students might also be allowed multiple assignment attempts or the ability to replace a low exam score with the score from the final exam.  Policies like this will likely reduce stress and anxiety but will also encourage students to spend more time on the course material and to develop the necessary skills.

Finally, relatedness refers to the psychological need to feel connected with others.  We can encourage connections with our students through our classroom behavior.  Getting to class a few minutes early to chat or making sure to use a student’s name in class are good ways to show students that you are available and approachable.  We can be proactive in contacting students who may be struggling in the class to show that we care.  We can also encourage connections between students by providing opportunities for group activities, class discussions, and even online discussions.

By making small changes in our classes to nurture these three basic psychological needs, we can make a difference in the lives of our students.   While it may not be a complete solution to the problem, we can reduce the likelihood of academic dishonesty by boosting self-determination, confidence, and motivation.

Bibliography

Cherry, K. (2021, March 15). How Does Self-Determination Theory Explain Motivation? Retrieved from Verywell Mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-determination-theory-2795387#:~:text=Self%2Ddetermination%20theory%20suggests%20that,connection%2C%20and%20autonomy%20are%20fulfilled.

¿Qué es ser docente hoy en día? Hablar de la labor docente puede ser algo que todos creemos muy obvio, pero que no todo mundo entiende. La mayoría de los niños van a la escuela y conocen por primera vez a esta figura de autoridad, de confianza y de enseñanza, que los acompaña durante todo su crecimiento. Entendemos que un docente es aquella figura que está llena de conocimientos, y que a través de diferentes estrategias y metodologías didácticas, es capaz de hacerlos llegar de una manera clara, sencilla y de acuerdo al nivel del estudiante. Sin embargo, un docente va más allá de solo enseñar. Su objetivo también implica la formación de personas íntegras, puesto que el profesional de la educación trabaja con ellas. Según J.I. Goodlad:

“Si las escuelas sólo tienen como propósito enseñar, no las necesitamos en realidad; esa tarea también la pueden realizar [cada vez mejor] con tanta o más eficiencia otros centros basados en ordenadores y diversas tecnologías avanzadas […]; ahora bien, si las escuelas tienen objetivos más amplios [cultivar la responsabilidad, el espíritu crítico, las actitudes democráticas y el carácter], entonces resultan del todo necesarios unos profesores bien seleccionados y preparados para el ámbito moral.“

Con esto afirmamos que la formación ética, tanto para los educandos como para los educadores, es necesaria, y es que todo acto de enseñanza es intrínsecamente ético. Es por ello que el docente debe ser ético para sí mismo y para los demás.

Hablar de una deontología docente significa hablar del “estudio del carácter o modo de ser del profesional de la docencia”. F. Bárcena dice: “El profesional –cultivando su carácter y asumiendo un compromiso en la tarea desempeñada–, ni deja de ser eficaz ni precisa de códigos de conducta para cumplir con su deber”. ¿Es necesario un código de conducta para la labor docente? El docente, si bien no debe de limitarse a un código de ética docente, sí tendría que conocerlo y adoptarlo como una guía dentro de su quehacer diario, tanto para su vida diaria como para su trabajo dentro del aula. A continuación comparto un breve decálogo que tiene como objetivo orientar al docente en el aula para mantener un comportamiento ético que favorezca la integridad tanto de él mismo como de sus alumnos:

Decálogo:

  1. El educador debe establecer una relación de confianza con los alumnos, que les ayude al desarrollo de su autoestima y al respeto con los demás.
  2. Tratar a todos los alumnos por igual, sin discriminar por motivo de raza, sexo, color, religión, intereses políticos, entre otros.
  3. Respeto hacia la dignidad del alumno. No adoctrinar ideológicamente.
  4. Tener total disposición hacia el discente, con el objetivo de despertarles el máximo interés por el aprendizaje y su autodesarrollo.
  5. Guardar el secreto profesional.
  6. Lograr que todos lleguen a tener una formación integral que les permita una positiva integración en la sociedad.
  7. Respetar las cuestiones relativas a los valores familiares, evitando confrontaciones, siendo respetuosos del pluralismo escolar.
  8. Favorecer la cooperación entre familias y maestros, estableciendo una relación de confianza.
  9. Dedicarse al trabajo docente con plena conciencia del servicio que se presta a la sociedad, haciendo las cosas bien y enfocándose al alumno como principal motor de esta profesión.
  10. Mantener una actitud crítica permanente hacia la labor docente y actuación personal y profesional, en aras de un perfeccionamiento constante, viviendo de manera ética no sólo dentro sino fuera del aula.

La integridad académica está directamente realcionada con la formación ética de las personas. No hay integridad sin ética y es por ello esencial que en las escuelas se tome aún más importancia la formación ética en los docentes. Promoverlo ayudará a continuar modelos educativos cuyo enfoque siga siendo el desarrollo humano de las personas. 

Referencias:

TAYLOR, C. & THIEBAUT, C. (1994). La ética de la autenticidad. Barcelona Bellaterra Barcelona: Paidós Ibérica I.C.E. de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.

CARDONA, C. (1990). Ética del quehacer educativo. Madrid: Ediciones Rialp.

PELÁEZ, M. (1991). Ética, profesión y virtud. Madrid: Rialp

ALTAREJOS, F. (1998). Ética docente: elementos para una deontología profesional. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel.

When I came to the University of Georgia as an international student from Germany in 2010, I had not heard about the concept of academic integrity or an academic honesty policy before. The only thing I had heard from a friend who had studied abroad in the United States before me was: “Be careful. The Americans are much more serious about cheating than we are.”

Of course, we were not allowed to cheat in school and university in Germany, and the consequences could have been as severe as they can be at American institutions, but I don’t remember ever having had an explicit conversation with a German teacher or professor about how to be academically honest. There was no academic honesty policy, no Office of Academic Honesty, and no official institutional process for dealing with academic misconduct at my university—at least not that I was aware of—and I never had any formal education about cheating and how to avoid it beyond learning how to correctly cite sources. It was just expected to know how appropriate academic conduct looks like.

In hindsight, I’m not even sure whether all professional students and researchers in Germany know how to avoid academic misconduct. In 2011, the topic of plagiarism got widespread attention in German society when it was found that then Minister of Defense Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had copied large sections of his dissertation from other sources without citing them. The scandal led to zu Guttenberg’s resignationthe revocation of his degree, and a wave of plagiarism accusations toward other high-profile politicians. In the following years, more people lost their doctorates and their positions—among them, of all people, Minister of Education and Research Annette Schavan.

I’m not trying to suggest there are no standards of academic integrity in Germany. There are. My point is that I just had a vague idea what they were and that my knowledge about them came from hearsay, and not from being formally educated. When I came to the U.S., the concept of academic integrity was completely new to me, I was surprised that the university had an explicit and very detailed Academic Honesty Policy, and I learned to appreciate the institutional process for resolving matters of academic misconduct when I taught undergraduate students.

My experience does not seem to be uncommon though. Researchers in Australia, the United States, and Canada have found that international students may be much less likely to have sufficient knowledge and understanding about academic integrity than their domestic counterparts, have much lower confidence in being able to avoid academic misconduct, and are much more likely to commit academic integrity violations (Bertram Gallant, Binkin, & Donohue, 2015; Bretag et al., 2014; Chen & Van Ullen, 2011). These findings were reflected by what I had observed myself while working at UGA’s Office of Academic Honesty. A few weeks ago, I attended an academic integrity violation meeting between an international student and an American professor. It was hard to watch. The student visibly struggled with understanding the language and understanding what they were accused of, why it was wrong to do what they had done, and why there must be consequences. I did not know whether they knew about the university’s academic honesty policy, what the culture of academic honesty was in their home country or at their alma mater, or whether such a culture existed at all in their home country, but it made me think about whether they were thrown into a system that they did not understand. They obviously needed help with navigating the landscape of academic integrity while studying abroad in the U.S. A few weeks later, I conducted an interview with an international student about an online learning module we had created for educating students about the university’s Academic Honesty Policy. The student told me that the module was a godsend for them because they had not learned much about academic honesty in their home country and they had no idea the university even had a policy. Working through the module, they said, made them much more comfortable with being a student in the U.S. and much more confident that they won’t commit academic misconduct.

What I learned through my own experience and my work at UGA’s Office of Academic Honesty is that international students need extra attention when being instructed about academic integrity and academic honesty policies at their American institution, and they need even more support from their institutions than their domestic counterparts (Fatemi & Saito, 2020). We cannot presume that international students come with the same understandings of academic integrity than American, Australian, or Canadian students do, and we cannot even expect that they bring the same appreciation for it. Understanding and appreciation for academic integrity needs to be built. By helping international students understand and appreciate academic integrity and the processes of resolving matters of academic dishonesty as they exist at American institutions, we can make a contribution to strengthening academic integrity across the globe. These students might take their newfound understandings about academic integrity back to their home countries and possibly educate others about it. They might become school teachers or instructors at institutions of higher learning, and they might want to establish a culture of academic integrity in their own communities.

References

Bertram Gallant, T., Binkin, N., & Donohue, M. (2015). Students at risk for being reported for cheating. Journal of Academic Ethics, 13(3), 217-228. doi:10.1007/s10805-015-9235-5

Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., McGowan, U., East, J., . . . James, C. (2014). ‘Teach us how to do it properly!’ An Australian academic integrity student survey. Studies in Higher Education, 39(7), 1150-1169. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2013.777406

Chen, Y.-H., & Van Ullen, M. K. (2011). Helping international students succeed academically through research process and plagiarism workshops. College & Research Libraries, 72(3), 209-235.

Fatemi, G., & Saito, E. (2020). Unintentional plagiarism and academic integrity: The challenges and needs of postgraduate international students in Australia. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(10), 1305-1319. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2019.1683521

If you listen to conversations around support and processes it is surprizing how often the phrase ‘cheat sheet’ is used. What appears to be intended by using the term ‘cheat sheet’ is to represent something that is a quick reference guide or list of shortcuts to make a system, process, or action more streamlined and easier to understand. There are websites devoted to collections of quick reference guides, and one is unfortunately called www.cheat-sheets.org but states that its’ purpose is to provide “All cheat sheets, round-ups, quick reference cards, quick reference guides and quick reference sheets in one page.” However, by using the term ‘cheat sheet’ to refer to a seemingly innocuous list or diagram we are tacitly endorsing the use of the word cheat, and that ‘cheating’ in this instance is acceptable, and ‘cheating’ in other situations is not.

While we are reliant on an individual clearly understanding that there is a vast difference between a ‘quick reference guide’ and cheating in an academic or educational integrity context, this distinction is not as readily apparent to everyone. Children listen to our use of language and would hear the use of ‘cheat sheet’ but not understanding how to separate a reference summary from educational cheating materials promoted by sites selling or sharing academic content.

This understanding is further complicated when companies create games that promote cheating to get ahead. Alarmingly, the Monopoly ‘Cheaters Edition’ rewards cheating where “rules encourage players to express their inner cheater to own it all while they buy, sell, dream, and scheme. Fake a die roll, steal some bills from the bank, and even skip out on rent. Complete a cheat to get a reward, but fail a cheat and pay the consequences” (https://monopoly.hasbro.com/en-gb/product/monopoly-game-cheaters-edition:020C27CB-55DA-442A-B73B-B5C3CED8FCDA ). This promotion of cheating and cheating behaviors to win establishes some dangerous lessons that could impact perceptions and perspectives of what is and is not appropriate in educational and societal situations, particularly when it is promoted as being suitable for ages 8+. Education about integrity needs to occur at every age and stage, and not only in the classroom.

Now I take every opportunity to clarify to my colleagues and friends that I do not endorse or support the use of the term ‘cheat sheet’ in any circumstances. I understand the intent when they are using it, but there are better ways such as using ‘quick reference guide’ that emphasize the usability and avoid the endorsement of the word ‘cheat’. I am striving hard to educate others as to the dangers associated with using the term and interrupt internal meetings to clarify this at every opportunity. So, listen in and see how and when the term is used, and take the opportunity to convert it to another teachable moment about academic integrity and that the fact that cheating is not acceptable.

What steps are you taking to avoid endorsing cheating? Tell us @TweetCAI.

Es ya desde enero del 2014 que la Universidad Panamericana (UP) trabaja en distintos esfuerzos para promover la integridad académica dentro de sus aulas. La integridad académica ha sido primordial para la UP debido a su filosofía educativa, que está fundamentada en el humanismo cristiano y que tiene entre sus principios institucionales la tarea de brindar una formación ética y de inculcar el valor del trabajo bien hecho. 

El camino ha sido largo y los logros no se han dado de un día para otro. El Talent, Centro de Profesores1 de la UP, del cual formo parte, ha hecho una gran labor para impulsar la integridad académica en la universidad. Desde los primeros años de la iniciativa sobre integridad académica, implementamos el uso de herramientas de similitud de textos para ayudar a los docentes a prevenir el plagio. También comenzamos a impartir talleres para profesores con diversos temas2; por ejemplo, sobre cómo retroalimentar trabajos académicos, herramientas de similitud de texto, escritura creativa, estrategias en línea para promover la honestidad y el empleo del aprendizaje basado en casos para concientizar a los estudiantes respecto a la integridad académica, por mencionar algunos.     

En muchos de estos talleres, he tenido la oportunidad de dialogar con algunos de los profesores sobre los retos, los aprendizajes y las propuestas de integridad académica dentro de sus clases. De manera sintética, puedo decir que esta experiencia ha sido enriquecedora para dar sustento y defender en mi universidad la perspectiva que propuso Bertram Gallant y Drinan en el 20083, la cual hace énfasis en que los profesores formen la integridad académica de los estudiantes a partir de la enseñanza y del aprendizaje, y no de la reprimenda o de la sanción. A continuación comparto algunas citas de los comentarios que varios de estos profesores me han hecho4

Reflexiones docentes sobre integridad académica

En la mayoría de los talleres, los profesores han comentado sobre casos de deshonestidad académica en sus clases y usualmente comparten propuestas o ideas para solucionar estos casos. Por ejemplo, en una actividad, tres profesores hablaron sobre cómo la tecnología influye en que algunos estudiantes busquen nuevas formas de hacer trampa, tales como el uso de páginas web que no aparecen en buscadores tradicionales o la traducción de textos para ocultar el plagio. Para abordar la problemática, los profesores plantearon una solución transversal basada en la enseñanza y el aprendizaje: 

Se observa que las estrategias para resolver este problema deben ser muy profundas y transversales. Por ejemplo, una concientización constante y en diversas materias, acerca de los efectos nocivos de esta práctica (en términos académicos y profesionales). La participación de la institución es central en el cambio de paradigma pedagógico para hacer coincidir la formación y los hábitos de los estudiantes, frente a las necesidades del nuevo paradigma educativo. Se tiene que hacer un seguimiento constante de todas las estructuras posibles (escuela, familia, individuo). 

También es común que los docentes mencionen al plagio como una de las acciones deshonestas más comunes entre sus estudiantes. Cabe aquí citar el comentario de un profesor que explica cómo, en su materia de Periodismo Audiovisual, algunos alumnos copian noticias sin citarlas. En equipo con otros docentes, este profesor concluyó que es importante enseñarle a los estudiantes sobre citación, así como hacerlos parte en los distintos procesos de construcción de una clase y crear espacios para escuchar tanto sus opiniones como sus propuestas en torno a cuestiones relacionadas con la integridad académica. Presento a continuación sus ideas: 

  • Asegurarse que los alumnos tengan el conocimiento de cómo citar correctamente fuentes, como medios de comunicación, redes sociales, autores, fuentes bibliográficas y hemerográficas. 
  • Hacer parte del proceso a los alumnos; convencerlos de que reflexionen sobre qué calidad vamos a entregar y que hagan ellos mismos su propia evaluación de calidad. Les digo, “Ok, solamente asegúrense de que la evaluación sea justa y que esté bien planteada”. 
  • Generar en el estudiante pasión por el periodismo creativo; que demuestre que le gusta, que le apasiona y no solo hacerlo repetitivo.

Algunos docentes también me han compartido que, en ciertas ocasiones, los estudiantes sí intentan escribir y citar de manera pertinente, pero no lo consiguen. En otros caos, los alumnos se copian entre ellos sin fijarse en los detalles, lo cual permite que los profesores detecten más fácilmente estas faltas a la integridad académica. Estas son algunas propuestas que han pensado los docentes respecto a estos retos:  

  • Que se diseñen campañas de concientización a nivel institucional, sobre la importancia de la originalidad y del trabajo bien hecho.  
  • Que se elaboren e implementen talleres de investigación para los estudiantes de primer semestre, de las distintas licenciaturas de la universidad. 
  • Que, ante las faltas de integridad académica, se sancione pertinentemente, de acuerdo con la naturaleza de cada falta cometida por el alumno.  

También puede ser que la complejidad de una materia sea un factor para la deshonestidad. Por presentar un ejemplo, una profesora de la Facultad de Derecho me explicó que los alumnos muchas veces no muestran interés por la parte teórica de algunas materias y que ese fenómeno puede empujarlos a cometer trampa. En ese sentido, esta profesora me comentó que elabora actividades significativas para los estudiantes, con el fin de que aprendan las cuestiones técnicas de su materia. 

Con la finalidad de [...] promover en mis alumnos el interés por aprender y aplicar las cuestiones teóricas de [...] un juicio, se les solicitó que elaboraran un TikTok que permitiera ver ejemplos (aplicación de cada uno de los tipos de pruebas). Para evaluar la actividad se les compartió una rúbrica con los puntos importantes del proyecto.

A partir de las reflexiones de estos profesores, me doy cuenta del avance que se ha logrado en la Universidad Panamericana. Entre las lecciones aprendidas, me parece que se ha creado una mayor consciencia entre el cuerpo académico sobre la importancia de la integridad académica. He visto cómo cada vez más profesores y estudiantes “se suben al barco” de la integridad y del hacer lo correcto ante cualquier situación. Sin embargo, creo que todavía estamos algo lejos de terminar y de alcanzar una cultura de integridad académica; pero de seis años para acá, es claro cómo el tema se habla “entre los pasillos” y también noto la preocupación creciente de los profesores en este tema. Seguimos avanzando, estableciendo distintos esfuerzos; aprendiendo y analizando la mejor forma de permear la integridad académica en nuestra casa de estudios

 

Referencias:

  1. El Talent, que antes se llamaba Centro de Innovación Educativa, busca formar y potenciar el talento de los profesores de la Panamericana.  
  2. Desde finales del 2014 a la fecha, cada semestre impartimos al menos un taller relacionado con integridad académica.
  3. Gallant, T. B. y Drinan, P. (2008). Toward a model of academic integrity institutionalization: Informing practice in postsecondary education. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 38(2), 25-43.
  4. Se le pidió permiso a cada uno de los docentes para publicar sus opiniones y todos sus nombres han sido borrados para proteger su privacidad.

During our 2022 virtual conference, ICAI was thrilled to bring back the annual awards to recognize individuals and institutions who have gone above and beyond in the work of academic integrity.  During the awards ceremony in which we also celebrated the 30th anniversary of ICAI, we recognized the nominees and the winners of five different awards.

The Waldvogel Exemplar of Integrity Award recognizes one individual for demonstrating courage and perseverance in championing the ideals of academic integrity in the face of opposition and adversity. It is intended for an individual who has demonstrated the sixth fundamental value - courage - to champion the ideals of academic integrity in building a culture of integrity.

This year we had two nominees for the Waldvogel Exemplar of Integrity Award:

The first nominee was LaShonda Anthony from George Mason University.  One nominator said, “Dr. Anthony always tried to look out for the best interest of the students in the honor code process, while always maintaining a fair and equitable process. Even, before COVID, Dr. Anthony managed a mountain of a caseload, with minimal staff. However, since COVID her ability to not only motivate her staff but to get in the trenches with her staff to stay on top of our caseload was nothing short of a miracle.” Another nominator stated, “LaShonda is the leader of this often overlooked work that is so important for our students as they navigate college and learn their own ethics for what's next.”

The second nominee was Jessie Townsend from the University of South Carolina.  One of the nominating letters stated, “During the last academic year, Jessie demonstrated courage and perseverance in the face of opposition and adversity when his supervisor departed the institution, and the office received the highest amount of referrals ever. Jessie continued to adjudicate his cases with diligence and grace. In addition to assuming some of his supervisor’s responsibilities, Jessie managed to continue to facilitate our newest initiative, a certificate program with our Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE).”  Another stated, “Members of ICAI are familiar with the unfair assumption that its members are administrative sticklers. Jessie proves we are the opposite in the way he champions the ideals of academic integrity, the ways that he subscribes to our founders’ ideas that academic integrity takes a village, and that building a culture of integrity requires a foundation of compassion, understanding, and commitment to voicing our common goal of student success.”

This year the Waldvogel Exemplar of Integrity Award was awarded to Jessie Townsend from the University of South Carolina. A final statement from one of his nominators was “In his meeting with students regarding possible Honor Code violations, he checked in on their mental health and well-being. The number of thank you emails he received was rewarding, with one student commenting that her Honor Code hearing administrator was the first person to ask her how she was really doing.”

The Tricia Bertram Gallant Award for Outstanding Service is named for Dr. Bertram Gallant who has consistently gone above and beyond while working toward a culture of integrity across the globe. This award recognizes and honors academic and practitioner members of ICAI who have during the previous academic year provided outstanding service to their institution or to the community regarding academic integrity.

This year we had five nominations for the Tricia Bertram Gallant Award for Outstanding Service. 

The first was Emilienne Akpan from the American University of Nigeria. One of her nominators wrote, “On interdepartmental collaborations, in the past, the writing center partnered with the faculty in the English department for research writing seminars for graduate students. As a member of the AUN Academic Integrity Council, Mrs. Akpan has worked diligently with Judicial Affairs to promote the culture of academic integrity on campus.”

The second nominee was Artem Artyukhov from NAQA-Ukraine. A nominator wrote, “Dr. Artyukhov actively participated in the development of academic integrity culture at the national level by organizing joint activities of the National Agency Ethics Committee and the sub commission of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on academic integrity to develop regulatory documentation for academic integrity assurance of higher education, provided training for accreditation experts on academic integrity, and worked with the National Agency working group to draft a national law on academic integrity.” His nominator also made mention that he uses gamification with students, using minecraft to promote academic integrity.

The third nominee was Courtney Cullen from the University for Georgia. Her nominator said, “She initiated a year-long virtual Faculty Listening Tour of 21 UGA departments in 2020 with a comprehensive report to the Educational Affairs Committee in March 2021.  Courtney also proposed a complete re-write of our institution’s academic integrity policy, to make it more readable and to include a new remediation program, and successfully navigated legal and faculty affairs and multiple committee meetings culminating in the new policy’s approval by University Council less than a month ago.”

The fourth nominee was Amanda McKenzie from the University of Waterloo.  Her nominator wrote, “she has been a key member for executing the ICAI contract with the American Councils to build up Ukraine’s system of quality assurance and academic integrity. She has conducted numerous full day (virtual) workshops for the project, as well as coordinated the project behind the scenes.”  Another said, “every year Amanda mobilizes individuals from across the country to develop an engaging program, deliver interactive activities during the Canadian Consortium day. I have often heard my compatriots declare that the Canadian Consortium Day is their favourite part of the ICAI conference.”

The fifth nominee was Laurie McNeill from the University of British Columbia. A nominator said, “Over the past years, but in the last year specifically, she has gone above and beyond to work towards building a culture of integrity at the University of British Columbia. Her scholarship and practice have planted the seeds for institutional change and her mentorship and service work have been vital to implementation.”  They also said, “Dr. McNeill was the Principal Investigator for “Our Cheating Hearts”, a project supported by UBC’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (2017-2020) that looked at how to foster an educative approach to academic integrity on campus and incorporate academic integrity into the curriculum. This project resulted in the creation of resources for faculty around academic integrity but also a shift in approach and awareness.”

The awards committee felt that all five nominees definitely have done outstanding work over the past year, but wanted like to recognize three as award winners. The award winners for the Tricia Bertram Gallant Outstanding Service Award were Artem Artyukhov, Amanda McKenzie, and Laurie McNeill.

The ICAI Student of Merit Award is given to a current student (either pre-college, undergraduate, or graduate student) who has demonstrated passion and motivation towards creating a culture of academic integrity.

The first nominee for the student of merit award was Tushita Tandon from the University of California, San Diego. One nominator wrote that when classes switched to remote, Tushita saw that she had a little extra time and bandwidth and wanted to brainstorm with me other ways that we could promote integrity on campus. She understood that the move to remote and the stress of current events would make maintaining integrity even more challenging for her peers. She was eager to find any creative ways we could to assist our community in staying connected to core integrity values.  Another nominator wrote, “If you could ask Tushita why she, a cognitive science major with a specialization in neuroscience, chooses to spend 10-20 hours of her weeks with the Academic Integrity Office, she would likely tell you quite simply “because integrity matters”.

The second nominee was César González Lozano from University of Monterrey.  One nominator said of César, “I admire him because he stands for what he believes and says. He defends the honor, truth and the learning of integrity among students.”  Another said, “One of his main attributes is the empathy and connection he has with students who commit an act of academic dishonesty, either when listening to them in a hearing or when he adopts the role of peer educator of a student who is going to have a hearing before the Honor Council, because he does not only explains the process and accompanies them during it, but also helps them reflect on their actions and advises on how to be better and what strategies they can have to improve their academic performance, achieving a change of attitude in the students with whom he talks.”

The third nominee was Grace VerWeire from the University of Buffalo.  One nominator said, “Grace has had a unique impact on the student body by personally inspiring academic excellence in her peers, role modelling courage and honesty, and volunteering to create and implement new initiatives that will certainly outlast her time on campus.”  They continue by saying, “Grace recently changed her major to Law and has shown a potent and steadfast commitment to ethics in many realms. Her interest in studying law comes from a profound commitment to universal justice, inspired by her lived experiences and the hardships of those close to her. She knits the values of her ambassadorship with her outside life, speaking out with care and determination when she sees her peers and colleagues being led down the path to academic dishonesty – just recently, Grace thwarted an entire class from using a group chat to share test answers, and she reflects on that experience with pride and satisfaction.”

These three students give me much hope for our future in building a culture of academic integrity.  The award for the Student of Merit went to Tushita Tandon from the University of California, San Diego

The ICAI Culture of Integrity Award recognizes one campus or institution for their outstanding ability to create a culture of integrity during the previous academic year.  The Culture of Integrity award is intended for institutions who have had success with a program or initiative to create or mold a culture of integrity among the constituents of their own institution.

The first nominee for the culture of integrity award was The University of South Carolina.  The nominator stated, “our office’s approach to addressing academic misconduct during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and online learning was to cultivate a culture of integrity by ensuring that it was a campus effort. This was achieved in numerous ways with the central goal of prioritizing proactive measures rather than focusing on reactive measures for academic integrity.”  They also stated, “In the summer of 2021, our office revised the University’s Honor Code to proactively combat the issues of contract cheating and study sites.  Lastly, Since the start of the Spring 2021 semester, our office has facilitated 13 virtual sessions for our certificate of completion program through the Center for Teaching Excellence. The certificate, Fostering Proactive Learning Environments (FPLE), has served to effectively train faculty on proactive academic integrity strategies aligned with pedagogical approaches and addressing behaviors of academic misconduct.”

The second nominee was University of Monterrey (UDEM).  The nominator stated, “We particularly highlight UDEM efforts to work day by day to accomplish its mission of strengthening the culture of academic integrity in the university community in an intentional, holistic and sustained strategy through its Center for Integrity and in turn achieve three objectives: to have an honest campus free of corruption, to maintain synergy with educational institutions and civil organizations in favor of integrity and legality, and to conduct research in this area as well as offer courses and consultancies to promote upright behavior through its ethics institute.”  A fellow institution said of UDEM, “UDEM has collaborated in a biannual publication that seeks to promote the topic of academic integrity in educational institutions in Latin America. And the members of the UDEM Integrity Center are genuinely concerned about students and how to ensure that they experience the university with academic integrity. This Center has sought to promote the values of academic integrity through an Honor Code, campaigns and activities for students, and training programs for professors.”

The third nominee was Penn State University.  A nominee said, “the University has had, for many years, local cultures of integrity that have been formed and maintained by administrators and educators who have published, presented, and led within their local integrity communities. The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic made obvious the need for a more cohesive culture of integrity. University leadership established a committee charged with providing guidance to both educators and students across the Penn State community. Those efforts led to many wonderful resources, new modes for collaborative efforts, and a sincere interest in a cohesive culture of integrity, from which have grown a new web of initiatives which stretch across the university and now serve as the enhanced foundation for our cohesive culture of integrity.”  Two specific initiatives are the University Academic Integrity Leadership Community and the Academic Integrity Digital Workflow Application.

These institutions are all role models for how we can all build a culture of integrity. The winner of the Culture of Integrity award was University of Monterrey (UDEM).

The ICAI Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes and honors academic and practitioner members of ICAI who have made significant contributions to academic integrity over their lifetimes. Award recipients represent the most influential individuals in academic integrity. It is the highest honor to be given by ICAI. The Lifetime Achievement Award is intended for individuals with at least 10 years of documented accomplishments in academic integrity and who have had a significant impact on a large number of individuals and organizations.

The recipient of the ICAI lifetime achievement award for this year has had over forty years of experience in higher education encouraging integrity throughout his work.  He was involved in the initial development of the Academic Integrity Policy back in 2012 at his current institution.  The committee’s work led to the development of a policy that has been embraced by faculty, staff, and students, on UA’s campus, and it is still in place today. Additionally, key elements of the policy have been discussed and utilized by other universities.  Five years later, he assessed faculty buy-in to the policy.

Though his tenure, he has published multiple times in academic integrity and ethics while also being a common presenter at ICAI conferences.   His nominator states, “he has relentlessly advocated to keep academic integrity at the forefront of campus-wide discussions throughout his career.” It goes on to say, “his commitment to this issue has impacted our campus at all levels and his work will felt for years to come.” Another nominator states, “this individual’s commitment to academic integrity is evident through his research, teaching, and service to his college and other colleges and universities.”

It is with great respect for decades of service to higher education and academic integrity that the ICAI lifetime achievement award was awarded to Timothy Paul Cronan of the University of Arkansas.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the nomination process.  We are excited to have these annual awards back to be able to truly honor those individuals and institutions doing superb work.