August 2023

Hello! My name is Abigail Warner, and I am a doctoral student at South College. My dissertation topic is academic misconduct reporting trends, and I am seeking institutional participants for my research study.

Background

The unceremonious shift to emergency remote teaching (ERT) during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in stress and confusion for both students and faculty, as well as a breakdown in communication. News outlets reported on the seemingly dramatic increase in academic misconduct cases at colleges and universities nationwide (Dey, 2021). One study by Lancaster and Cotarlan (2021) found that the number of test-related questions on Chegg increased by 196.25% when comparing five-month time periods in 2019 and 2020, suggesting that the higher levels of reporting were, in fact, correlated with higher cases of misconduct. Subsequent studies have found additional evidence that students were more likely to cheat on exams and assignments through unauthorized resources, collusion, and contract cheating during ERT than pre-Covid (Maryon et al., 2022).

Less is known, however, about academic misconduct reporting trends after higher education institutions returned to full operating status. Have they followed the path set during the pandemic? Or have they reverted to pre-pandemic levels since the end of ERT? You can help answer these questions!

Data Request

I am requesting access to academic misconduct reporting data from colleges and universities. The proposed research aims to examine the differences in trends before, during, and after the pandemic with a particular focus on the frequency, type, and severity of infractions. Insights gained from this study can be used by participating institutions to refine both proactive and reactive strategies for combatting academic misconduct. Only data that specifically addresses the scope of the study will be collected, and all personally identifiable information will be removed. Additionally, Dr. David Rettinger, ICAI’s Research and Assessment Committee chair, has agreed to support the research and help ensure all data is anonymized.

If your institution is willing to participate in this study, please reach out to me at . I am available to provide additional information and answer any questions you may have. Thank you for your consideration!

References

Lancaster, T., & Cotarlan, C. (2021). Contract cheating by STEM students through a file sharing website: a Covid-19 pandemic perspective. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 17(1), 1–16.

Maryon, T., Dubre, V., Elliott, K., Escareno, J., Fagan, M. H., Standridge, E., & Lieneck, C. (2022). COVID-19 Academic Integrity Violations and Trends: A Rapid Review. Education Sciences. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12120901


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It is the start of a new academic year in the northern hemisphere. As classes begin, faculty and students are coming back together to build new relationships and strengthen existing connections. Recently, I met with a student for their remediation program, and one of the things we discussed was their lack of willingness to communicate with faculty. This student had been found responsible for tampering with attendance records by signing into class and participating while not actually being in class. Where was this student? They were not skipping class because they did not wish to go; no, this student was sitting in a hospital room waiting for test results. This situation could have been avoided if the student had contacted the instructor to let them know that they were in the hospital. 

Unfortunately, this student was more concerned about annoying the faculty than communicating their circumstances. They did not believe the faculty would want "excuses" for their absence. They meant to show that they cared about the class, even if they were not physically present. Now, some of this could be part of the student rationalizing their decision; the syllabus for the course in this case clearly stated that they should not attempt to participate in class if they were not present. It is also important to recognize that people are more likely to make riskier decisions when feeling backed into a corner (e.g., prospect theory would suggest that this student was so worried about losing the participation points that they made a poor decision).

It is amazing that something so simple could have stopped this student from going through the conduct process. Imagine if the student had sent that single e-mail. One less meeting, less stress, and less emotional turmoil for the faculty. That would be time for them to work with students, make progress on a research proposal, or even have time to grab a coffee. It would also have prevented the student from going through the stress of the conduct process and allowed them to focus on improving health.

The topic I keep coming back to is expectations. If you do not want an email every time a student has a cold, that may be fair. You should still provide instructions or guidance on how students should reach out to you. I am not saying that you need to add a section to your syllabus, but this could be a good thing to put on the LMS or email out to the entire class early in the term.

Here are some things you may want to consider: 

  • Subject and salutations: Have your students note their course section in the subject line to help you identify the course impacted. Be sure to let them know if you would like them to address you by your title, position, or first name. Students may feel embarrassed if they do not know how to address you, and it is easy to eliminate those barriers.
  • Situations and circumstances: What rises to the level of needing to contact you? If you have a process in place for excused absences, they may just need a link or an assignment dropbox to put in relevant documentation for missing class. If students need accommodations or in case of an emergency, tell them how to let you know. If you would rather receive notice from you Student Support Services division, put information for how to reach that unit on campus.
  • Setting up contact hours: Listed contact hours often do not work for students for a plethora of reasons. If you are setting up contact hours by appointment, tell students how to request a time. 
  • Research and recommendations: Provide students with what you need to consider their requests to work on your research projects or receive a recommendation. Providing their resume, the name of their business, or the program to which they are applying may help you make your decision.

Noting that hindsight is 20/20, we should always strive to help students feels more confident in communicating with faculty and working with student services. Overall, the student I met with was a great candidate for remediation. Going through the academic integrity process helped them get in touch with campus resources they needed, and I am going to count that as a success. In the meantime, let's help other students navigate their own circumstances and communicate with you effectively. What communication guidelines do you give your classes? Share by tweeting @TweetCAI or commenting on Facebook or LinkedIn.


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I recently read Nicole Campbell and Asil El Galad’s article: The hidden curriculum and its impacts on students and educators which refers to the ”unspoken lessons, messages, norms, values, and perspectives that students learn through their school experiences.” I couldn’t help but see the connections to academic integrity. We expect all students to know about academic integrity when they enter university or college, yet the fact remains – they don’t. It’s hidden.

Not only is this something that we’ve seen students who were educated outside of North America struggle with, but it’s a struggle for our own domestic students making the transition from high school. This gap is also not just limited to North America. Upon visiting schools in India in 2016, I found the same thing. Why does this gap remain; moreover, what can we do to better support our students for success?

Campbell and El Galad “believe that by uncovering the hidden curriculum and being aware of the messages that are being communicated, academic institutions can actively work to create an environment that is inclusive, supportive, and fosters student and educator growth and development.”     I believe this also extends to supporting a culture of integrity.

Several academic support units at the University of Waterloo came together in 2021 to finalize a Academic Integrity Competency Map  which is similar to the Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum project. Both resources focus on enhancing communication, critical thinking, and self-regulation skills, and point to training modules or resources to promote these skills. Educators can readily take some of these tools and apply them in their courses. You don’t have to adopt every competency but as Campbell and El Galad state “Trust that these small, but impactful acts will lead to meaningful change.”

In a challenging time where educators and students are both trying to adjust to generative artificial intelligence, we need to circle back to the purpose of learning and focus on developing our intended learning outcomes. Achieving these outcomes, ensuring that students understand why it matters that they learn the content and how it connects to their future is imperative. Nurturing a culture of integrity will always remain the best strategy against any form of academic misconduct. This should not be a technological arms race in the face of AI (Artificial Intelligence), but a reminder to instill good social norms and values, and by opening up the hidden curriculum we can make a difference. Perhaps we’ll finally start reducing that gap! 


Thank you for being a member of ICAI. Not a member of ICAI yet? Check out the benefits of membership at https://academicintegrity.org/about/member-benefits and consider joining us by contacting . Be part of something great.

The Southeast ICAI conference is back! The Southeast Regional Consortium will be hosting a virtual conference with the theme this year is Connecting to Integrity. Every campus connection has the potential to increase the ethical decision-making capabilities of our students. Faculty help students navigate their courses by setting clear expectations. Students follow the behavior displayed by their peers who exemplify integrity. Staff connect students to resources that can help them complete their academic careers without compromising integrity. This symbiotic connection is maximized when students, faculty, and staff share an innate passion for integrity. This fall we are building on these connections to bring academic integrity to the forefront.

In the face of challenges like Generative Artificial Intelligence, continued debates on proctoring, and companies profiting from student academic misconduct, this conference will connect individuals dedicated to academic integrity by sharing experiences, research, and programs.

How have you been connecting to integrity? Submit proposals by September 14, 2023, using this link.

The conference will be held October 26, 2023 – October 27, 2023. Want to register? Use this link.


 Thank you for being a member of ICAI. Not a member of ICAI yet? Check out the benefits of membership at https://academicintegrity.org/about/member-benefits and consider joining us by contacting . Be part of something great.

At the end of the academic year 2022-2023, I moderated a session called Detecting Contract Cheating: Human or Machine facilitated by Kane Murdoch, Head of Complaints, Appeals, and Misconduct at Macquerie University. The session was part of a week-long symposium sponsored by UC San Diego Academic Integrity. I must admit, when I volunteered to moderate I thought, “I don’t know anything about the topic. Why am I here? What am I doing?” Then, my thoughts settled. “I’m not here as the expert on the topic. Kane is.”

So, there I was listening to Kane about contract cheating. “What’s that now? What is he talking about? I don’t understand.” This is what most of us in higher education are feeling with generative artificial intelligence (GenAI). Confused. Maybe we’re also over it, fatigued, and scared. We don’t want to be bothered by yet another thing that’s impacting teaching and learning. I mean, aren’t we just getting back to some form of normalcy with teaching in-person, again?! While listening to Kane, I was trying to make sense of how I would apply the information to my work. As associate director of UC San Diego’s Teaching and Learning Commons Engaged Teaching, I support a small team of eight professionals. Together, we support faculty with their teaching through workshops, individual and department consultations, graduate student teaching support, and Teaching and Learning Commons Changemaker Fellowships.

I wondered, how does GenAI, like ChatGPT, impact me, impact my team, and how I support faculty? Innate in this wonder is a sense of unknown. It’s important for me to share that I was, and still am, okay not knowing or not being an expert of GenAI. Yet, I’m also aware that some educators might confuse my not knowing with lacking credibility, especially as a Black female educator, when in reality, in this moment, I’m facing the same learning curve as most other teaching and learning professionals.

In academia, we function in the idea of being perfect, a characteristic of white supremacy explained in White Supremacy Culture Still Here (Okun, 2021). Likewise, Rendün (2010), in Recasting Agreements that Govern Teaching and Learning: An Intellectual and Spiritual Framework for Transformation discussed the agreement of perfection. So, educators who are new, nervous and/or resistant to GenAI–whatever that feeling might be–is possibly confronted with the belief of being perfect at all times and, to some degree, protect their comfort with what they know to maintain credibility. I would add that those feelings are even more amplified for nontenured and/or educators of color, who, like me, are treading an educational system that favors tenured, white male educators. Not only is there little room for error or for being imperfect in being “perfect,” there is little room for learning. GenAI isn’t challenging what I know about supporting faculty or what faculty know about their discipline. It’s challenging or providing an opportunity to adjust how we deliver what we know.

Despite our fear of seeming incompetent, GenAI, whether used or not as a tool in teaching practice and in the learning of students in the classroom, should still be learned; at the very least the basics of it. Either way, students are looking to faculty to explain why or why not use GenAI in the classroom. “I just want them to use it” or “I just don’t want them to use it” isn’t enough of an explanation.

To help faculty move past this fear, I encourage them to remember their younger days of playing in the sand box. Remember those days?! Dressed to play and get dirty, with a red or blue or yellow bucket in one hand, and a scoop, a rake, and a sieve in the other. We built sand castles or whatever we could build with those tools and our hands. Then, a friend joined in the sand box. Together, we carried twice as much sand, dug deeper into the sand, and build bigger sand castles. Sometimes, the sand didn’t cooperate and we didn’t build much of anything. But we gave it a try. Maybe we went back to the sand box the next day, maybe we decided the sand box just wasn’t our thing.

So, I invite faculty to play with GenAI. It can be as simple as playing in the sand box.

  • Read what you can about the GenAI tools you’re curious about, like ChatGPT, Bing, or Bard;
  • Invite a colleague for coffee to talk about it;
  • Open an account and play around with the GenAI tool;
  • Come up with 1 – 2 prompts to explore with a student worker, a tutor, or a couple of students from class;
  • Consult with an education specialist from your school’s teaching and learning center on the use of the tool in your teaching; and/or
  • Attend an in-person or virtual conference on GenAI.

By exploring various GenAI tools, faculty become participants versus spectators of this new technology. This is not to say that on-becoming an expert is the goal of the exploration. On the contrary, education is always changing. So, the goal is to change when education is changing, which means learning new ways of teaching by stepping out of our comfort.

I’m doing my own exploration of GenAI with colleagues. Every Tuesday of August, for one hour, my team and UC San Diego Academic Integrity are hosting teaching chats series on GenAI. Teaching chats bring us together with faculty who are curious about how this technology intersects with education, and its influence on teaching and learning. As a participant of this learning community on GenAI, I’ll learn how to better support my team, and faculty in their teaching; whether they decide to use it or not. No matter your role in higher education, yet with an invested interest in the teaching and learning community of your campus, I encourage you to create or join a community with your colleagues as well.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Thank you for being a member of ICAI. Not a member of ICAI yet? Check out the benefits of membership at https://academicintegrity.org/about/member-benefits and consider joining us by contacting . Be part of something great.

In a 2019 installment of the popular NPR podcast, “Hidden Brain,” Shankar Vedantam explores the cognitive challenge of making good decisions in the heat of the moment, or what he calls a “hot state.” We are poorly equipped, he says, to anticipate how we will act when thrust into difficult “emotional states.” The intensity of those experiences can be so pronounced that we quickly forget what we may have learned; as a result, we are predisposed to making the same mistakes in the future.

This phenomenon is analogous to the predicament of students who find themselves the subject of an academic integrity allegation. Once the process is over and charged emotions have subsided, it is important to find ways to support our students in sorting through those difficult emotions so that they are better able to make right decisions moving forward. 

The research by Herdian Herdian and Euis Rahayu might help us do that. In “I Don’t want to Commit Academic Dishonesty: the Role of Grit and Growth Mindset in Reducing Academic Dishonesty,” the authors investigate the role of “grit” as a mediating factor between growth mindset—the perception of intellectual capacity as expansive instead of limited— and rates of academic dishonesty. They posit that higher levels of grit are correlated with strong growth mindset and suggest, therefore, that the development of growth mindset can prevent future acts of academic dishonesty. If grit and a growth mindset can serve a preventative function, perhaps they also provides us with a lens for framing conversations about academic integrity with students who have already engaged in academic misconduct.

The idea of focusing on growth and grit resonates with my work in advising. As a four-year advisor, I am often challenged to help students identify moments of success, centering conversations on what is within their control now as opposed to what occurred then. This practice of advising tends to emphasize the importance of starting from a place of strength, asking us to consider: to what accomplishments, however small, can we direct students’ attention when they are struggling? 

This is also important to do with students after an integrity violation. While it is easy to fixate on what went wrong (after all, we do not want to minimize the gravity of what occurred), it is also imperative that we shift students’ attention away from stark outcomes and toward what can be done differently.

One mechanism for promoting growth mindset for students after an integrity violation is to have the students write a mitigation letter. The mitigation letter is an invitation to take a step back. In addition to its focus on mitigating factors, which are often situational, it can help students reframe what happened in terms of what they might do to course correct. Students may choose to share what they write with their instructor with the goal of beginning to repair the harm that was done. It also provides the institution with a concrete way to identify underlying issues that need to be addressed.

Prompts for students to address in their letter include:

1. Identify the learning objectives for the assignment(s) on which you were alleged to have violated the policy. How did the violation impede the process of meeting those objectives?

2. Realizing that it is rarely anyone’s intention to commit an act of academic dishonesty, how might you have approached the assignment(s) in question differently?

3. Misunderstanding of policies does occur, but it is always a student’s responsibility to clarify the meaning behind those policies. What could you have done to clarify the policy?

4. Consider the position of the other students in the course and the campus community. In your opinion, why is it important to uphold a culture of integrity?

5. The International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) defines several academic integrity values. Identify one value that resonates with you: How can you help foster this value in your daily life?

Because students can elect to share the letter, these questions help students clarify their experience as well as the significance of it. Students are able to communicate with their instructor in an institutionally sanctioned way that may reduce the harm that was done; instead of simply explaining away what happened, this exercise promotes accountability. Finally, because many students apply to graduate and professional school, writing about their experiences involves articulating a response that is clear and coherent.

If we can help students cultivate growth mindset by coaching them on how to present an organized narrative, we may also be able to build key skills like adaptability and resilience. Studies demonstrate that growth mindset interventions result in enhanced ability to monitor one’s performance, set goals, and meet desired outcomes; the mitigation letter, therefore, affords one way to connect failure with actions that encourage positive behaviors. Simply put, we are encouraging students to meet challenges with grit.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Thank you for being a member of ICAI. Not a member of ICAI yet? Check out the benefits of membership at https://academicintegrity.org/about/member-benefits and consider joining us by contacting . Be part of something great.