January 2022

I recently came across the term “integrity sciences”, which as it applies to the field of academic integrity, appears to have been coined by Dr. Michelle Bergadaà, Professor Emerita of the Université de Genève and founder and President of the Institute for Research and Action on Fraud and Plagiarism in Academia / Institut de Recherche et d’Action sur la Fraude et le Plagiat Académiques (IRAFPA).

Dr. Bergadaà hosted a conference in 2020 on the topic of integrity sciences and in 2021, published an edited volume, together with Dr. Paulo Peixoto, titled “L’urgence de l’intégrité académique” (“The urgency of academic integrity”) . Written in French, this book includes 32 by authors from across Europe.

The notion of “integrity sciences” stuck with me. Those of you who know me will no doubt remember a story I share often in my presentations. In 2017, after applying for an internal research grant at my university, I was informed that the application was rejected on the basis that academic integrity is an administrative matter not a research topic. This was just one grant application and I am, of course, grateful to the University of Calgary, for the tremendous support they have provided for my work, including research funding that, since 2016, now exceeds $100,000 CAD across various projects. But that one grant application rejection has stuck with me because of the reasons provided for why the project did not receive funding. Since then, I have dedicated part of my work to showing that not only is academic integrity a topic, it is a field of research, policy, and professional practice.

When I first read the term “integrity sciences” it piqued my interest. I began contemplating the various areas of the field of integrity sciences: systematic and scientific inquiry investigating academic integrity; research integrity; research ethics; publication ethics; plagiarism; fraud and corruption in education and science; and so on. Similar to the way in which learning sciences studies the “an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning” (Sawyer, p. 1), integrity sciences studies is a multi-, inter-, and transdiciplinary field that studies ethics and integrity.

I pointed out during my keynote speech at the 2021 European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism (ECAIP), hosted by the European Network for Academic Integrity (ENAI), that academic integrity research is transdisciplinary and multi-faceted. The idea of approaching the investigations we conduct under the umbrella of integrity sciences fits in with this notion. The term “integrity sciences” provides us with language to describe the transdisciplinary nature of academic integrity research.

I am still very much learning what Dr. Bergadaà’s conceptualization of integrity sciences might include, and I think this notion is worth discussing with colleagues not only in Europe, but also beyond, to include scholars and scientists across the world.

Reprinted with permission. Full article: An Introduction to Integrity Sciences – https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2022/01/24/10757/

Hace algunos años, tuve la oportunidad de realizar mis prácticas profesionales en un colegio primaria como maestra de apoyo. En esa ocasión me asignaron un grupo en donde los alumnos tenían entre 6 y 7 años. Recuerdo especialmente a un alumno, pues era muy inteligente, tenaz y a su corta edad no se le dificultaba tomar decisiones; el problema era que su comportamiento no era el correcto. Si algo no le parecía, se molestaba, gritaba, pegaba. Hubo una ocasión en que fue tanto su enojo que rompió una ventana haciendo daño a la maestra titular.

Durante el recreo, sus compañeros se alejaban de él, seguramente por el miedo a sus reacciones. En una ocasión hablé con la maestra titular y le pregunté si los papás de este alumno tenían conocimiento de lo que ocurría en el salón de clase. La respuesta me sorprendió, ya que los padres sí sabían lo que pasaba, pero ellos argumentaban que eso era normal en los niños y que la escuela no solo debe enseñar conocimiento académico sino también cómo comportarse.  

Esto me hizo reflexionar sobre una de las preguntas más comunes referentes a la educación ¿a quién le corresponde enseñar la integridad, la ética, la moral y la disciplina? ¿a los padres de familia o a las instituciones educativas?

Seguramente existen diferentes puntos de vista con relación a este tema. Unos defienden que la educación y los valores se aprenden en casa, y otros, que esto debe enseñarse en la escuela, y en muchas ocasiones, los padres de familia lo exigen, pero luego se quejan de las sanciones que las instituciones imponen ante las faltas de integridad.

En mi opinión, la enseñanza de los valores y el actuar con integridad debe inculcarse en casa, pero también reforzarse en la escuela, es parte de la formación que buscamos en nuestros estudiantes para convertirlos en buenos profesionistas que aporten a la sociedad y contribuyan al cambio que tanto necesitamos.

Esto conlleva a un gran reto, especialmente para las preparatorias y universidades, que son el último espacio para los estudiantes antes de ingresar al mundo laboral. Es en estos niveles, donde lamentablemente, suceden muchas faltas a la integridad como copiar, plagiar, pagar por un trabajo o un examen, no denunciar a otras personas que incumplen con las reglas, entre otras, y que suelen “normalizarse”.

Por ello, nuestra labor como profesores e instituciones educativas es promover la importancia de la integridad no solo en el aula, sino también mostrarles las consecuencias de no actuar con ética en la vida laboral y personal, ejemplos de lo que podrían vivir una vez como egresados y enfatizar los beneficios de actuar con honestidad, respeto, responsabilidad, justicia, confianza y valentía. Así como hacer cumplir los reglamentos y códigos de honor, gestionar los procesos que correspondan, pero, sobre todo, brindar a los estudiantes la oportunidad de aprender de sus errores y enmendarlos.

Si queremos lograr un mejor resultado, este esfuerzo debe realizarse en conjunto con los padres de familia (incluso de los universitarios), y para ello, es importante realizar eventos, talleres y conferencias donde los involucremos y compartamos la relevancia de este tema, así como darles a conocer las reglas de integridad de la escuela y que las respeten de la misma manera que se les pide a sus hijos, pues en este barco vamos todos y solo trabajando de la mano, podremos lograr mejores resultados.

Recently, I was reading a dissertation, “Cheating from a Distance: An Examination of Academic Dishonesty Among University Students,” by Timothy K. Daty from the University of New Haven. While interesting for multiple reasons, including its analysis of online vs. in-person cheating in a post-Covid-19 world, I kept coming back to one quote: “A student’s academic record can also impact student disciplinary hearings. More precisely, a student’s grade point average can have a pronounced influence on university sanctioning. When undergoing formal hearings concerning alleged academic dishonesty, students with lower academic achievement appear to have a higher incidence of guilty verdicts” (Larwood & Rankin, 2010 cited by Daty, 2021, p. 35). Like any good scholar, I hunted down the reference.

Larwood and Rankin (2010) ran a probit analysis of 93 honor code cases over three years. They did find that students with lower GPA’s had a higher probability of being found guilty and other worrisome trends. While I wish the article was longer in order to read through the methods and more detailed findings, this finding is disturbing because we know that ‘good’ students cheat, too.

‘Good’ students cheat to get into competitive programs, because there is intense pressure from supporters to be successful. They may also cheat because they want to help their friends, their peers are already cheating, they have moral dissonance, and the list goes on. But if ‘good’ students also cheat, they must still be held accountable.

In fact, letting some students get away with cheating because they are ‘good students’ goes against the Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. Honesty requires that those reviewing cases of alleged cheating “consider all sides.” Trust is only developed when students believe their cases are treated with consistent standards, and this fairness is only developed with the rules are applied consistently. We respect others when we show equal justice and hold all students to be responsible for their behavior.

Here are some ways to make sure you are following the fundamental values:

Faculty

Report any student you suspect of cheating to the appropriate office. Do not try to handle it in-house just because the student is “really a good kid.” If you would report a student with a poor grade in your course, make sure you’re applying your standard consistently to the student with a good grade.

Make your sanctioning equitable. If you have flexible sanctioning, do not give a harsher sanction just because a student is doing poorly. Make sure your sanction is equal to the actions of the student, not to how you personally feel about the student.

Take a breath before meeting with the student or attending a hearing. It may feel personal when a student cheats, but it is likely not. It may feel especially personal when you have offered every opportunity for a student to improve in your course, but they cheat instead. Before you punish a student, listen with compassion to what they did and why they did it.

Academic Integrity Staff

Be transparent. Provide reports of cheating at your institutions that show sanctions. Students often see expulsion or exclusion in a policy and think that will automatically be the case for them. When students are aware of what is a fair sanction based on the course and the assignment, they can better advocate for themselves.

Work with students. This sounds simple, and I am sure some of you might be rolling your eyes. Maybe you are feeling cynical after you regular increase in caseloads from final exams; I know that pessimism can be challenging to shake. But listen to the issue the faculty is having and listen to the response from the student. If your job is to judge whether or not a student is guilty, you have to be an impartial judge. If your job is to sanction students that have cheated, then you are the one responsible for ensure fair sanctions are applied to all students. And if you are the one facilitating the process for faculty and students, then you have to work to build back that broken trust.   

Students

If you serve on a student conduct hearing board, you have a unique responsibility to your institution. Not only should you have the courage to model appropriate and integrity-based behavior, but you also have a duty to treat your peers with respect and fairness, regardless of the grades they may have received. 

As you plan for this semester, how are you going to uphold the Fundamental Values? Tweet @TweetCAI to share your strategies.

As 2022 begins, many people are quoting Taylor Swift when they say they are "feeling '22'". However, just because we are hoping for a great start to the new year, or even just a better year than the one before, these hopes will likely go unrealized if we fail to put in the work. We need smart goals and resolutions to model integrity in our classrooms and campuses? Try adapting some of these:

  1. Immerse yourself in educational integrity.

Join the International Center for Academic Integrity as a member to gain access to resources and materials to promote integrity on your campus. Not sure where to start? Perhaps the McCabe-ICAI Academic Integrity Survey will give you a baseline for your institution. You may also want to join the annual conference - remotely! - in March. There is also additional support through regional consortia.

Add integrity to your inbox. Add Google News alerts to keep on top of educational integrity in the news. Start following some academic integrity practitioners on Twitter - you can even Tweet @TweetCAI with an academic integrity shoutout or follow the ICAI on Instagram (@academicintegritymatters) and Facebook for academic integrity related updates. Check your libraries and open access journals to find journals dedicated to educational integrity and follow them to see when they release new articles. You can also follow publishing ethics and get updates on which journals display predatory practices or are retracting papers.

  1. Spend time reviewing integrity.

Check your assignments to make sure they are designed with integrity in mind. Ensure comprehension with an oral component to your exams. Have your students include a statement about how they completed the assignment honestly and following your field's ethical code(s). Be as flexible with your students as you would want an instructor to be with you. You may find reviewing some previous blog posts and webinars useful in planning purposeful and integrity based assessments: 

Talk integrity beyond the syllabus. You should plan to bring up your academic integrity expectations before each assignment, but you can go further. Tie academic integrity into ethical practice for students in the field. Help your students develop integrity as a key value that they will always adhere to. Ask them, "What does integrity mean to you?" and hold them to their own standards.

  1. Discuss integrity with your colleagues.

Navigating academic integrity issues can feel like a minefield. Find common ground with your colleagues. You may be able to standardize a practice for academic integrity in the department or college's expectations for collusion. Decide which outside resources are appropriate for coursework. As a group,set requirements for citing sources on assignments beyond just following a citation style. Use this time to ensure that all instructors knows where and how to report any concerns related to academic integrity. 

Academic integrity should not remain in the shadows. Let's make 2022 the year of academic integrity and create our own resolutions for ethical and integrity based education.