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Assessment: Academic integrity

Why academic integrity matters

  • Assures the quality of the certification process – maintains value of skills, knowledge, and character earned in degree process
  • Guards against corruption in work and society – developing ethical students as professionals
  • Our moral obligation
  • Guards against corruption – cheating in school = cheating in life. Ethical fitness takes practice. Cheating in skills parallels professional violations.
  • Employers expecting moral skills from graduates

Notes by Robbyn Lanning, Camosun librarian, from Going Remote with Integrity - Webinar presented by Dr. Tricia Bertram Gallant (Director, Academic Integrity Office, UC San Diego) and co-sponsored by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI)

Strategies for promoting academic integrity

It takes time to shift the culture of academic integrity from a punitive focus on rule compliance to a more proactive and preventative approach. Together as a college community, we can  build a more positive, educative, and supportive culture, with ongoing reflection and intention to improve our institutional and individual practices. There is no silver bullet! 

PREVENT Spend more time up front to help minimize cheating and plagiarism in the first place.

DESIGN ASSESSMENTS that foster academic integrity.

PROVIDE ONGOING SUPPORT throughout the term.

MONITOR and PROMPTLY INTERVENE Remember, nothing is cheat proof!

Design assessments that promote academic integrity

Reduce opportunities and reasons for academic misconduct by:

  • Ensuring assessments contain clearly worded questions and instructions
  • Ensuring assignments are specific (i.e. not open to interpretation)
  • Creating questions that require higher-order thinking
  • Creating a series of shorter, lower-stakes assessment tasks
  • Asking students to provide evidence of their learning/work (e.g. drafts, outlines)
  • Explicitly linking classroom activities to assessments (e.g. class discussions, lecture material)
  • Using assessments that require students to reflect on their own experience, learning, current events
  • Considering other ways assessments might be contributing to academic misconduct (e.g. high-stakes assessments? Time limits?)

Connect with CETL for help in designing your assessments. 

Strategies for promoting academic integrity

References

Many of ideas on this page have been adapted and are shared with permission from: Seeland, J., & Munn, C. (2020, October). Assessment design 101: The intersection of academic integrity and pedagogy. Presented virtually for Assiniboine Community College, Brandon, MB.  (Also see: https://assiniboine.libguides.com/ai-faculty)

Preventing

Spend more time up front to help minimize cheating and plagiarism in the first place.

Make sure students know about and understand academic integrity

  • Discuss why it is important, what it looks like (provide examples), and the consequences.
  • Actively engage students in understanding academic integrity (e.g., quizzes, class activities, etc.).
  • Review with students the Academic Integrity and Grade Review & Appeals policies.
  • Have students sign an academic integrity pledge.

Inform students about the resources available to help them

  • Contact your subject liaison librarian to book an information literacy class for your students. (Hearing about academic integrity from multiple sources will reinforce the importance.)
  • Promote the AskAway online library chat support service.
  • Encourage students to use Library Research Guides—most students hear of guides from faculty.
  • Quiz students on these guides: Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism and Academic Integrity.
  • Promote the library videos—add them to your D2L.
  • Encourage use of college learning skills resources and the Writing Centre.

Providing ongoing support

Provide support throughout the term.

Understand/discuss why students cheat: exhaustion, time constraints, lack of skills or confidence, assignment confusion, life circumstances, seeing opportunities, struggles with English, stress, etc.:

  • Know your students and develop relationships (increase teacher presence).
  • Refer to support services when appropriate (counselling, help centres, CAL).

Focus on learning as process, not product (assessment for learning, formative assessment):

  • Scaffold your assignments (e.g., require annotated bibliographies, before the research paper; include summarizing, paraphrasing, and citation exercises in your curriculum).
  • Incorporate experiential learning.
  • Use a variety of assessments including oral exams.
  • Focus on student skill development (e.g. paraphrasing skills, APA guidelines, spelling/grammar check)

Revisit the significance of academic integrity throughout the course, particularly before evaluations.

Provide more time for quizzes (not less) and offer extensions to decrease stress.

Avoid pre-made test banks; create large randomized question banks.

Discuss the policies with your Chair/Program Leader/peers, and determine consistent ways to address the most common types of academic misconduct.

Monitoring/promptly intervening

Remember, nothing is cheat proof!

If possible, encourage informal resolution through a conversation with the student. Use a formal process only if necessary:

  • It may be uncomfortable to confront students, but it is an excellent learning opportunity for them.
  • Contact Camosun’s ombudsperson for guidance, and encourage your student to as well.

Follow through on consequences:

  • Document misconduct incidents or requests for grade reviews. Use the documentation forms and templates provided as “Supporting Documents” of the policies.
  • In case incidents and requests move into a formal process, photocopy documentation for your records: marked assignments, rubrics, email correspondence between you and the student, etc.

Honour statements

Honour statements have been shown to be very effective in helping to curb academic dishonesty. As part of your start-of-term review of academic integrity, consider having students sign an honour statement. You can have them revisit this statement at the beginning of all your assessments throughout the term.

Sample honour statement: “I will not disclose any details about this exam to any other student. I will not copy, paste or share any details about this exam in any form: verbally, printed or electronically. All details will remain in D2L. I will complete this exam on my own. No other person may assist me or complete the exam for me. Grades that are significantly different from the grades that I have earned throughout the term will be questioned and may be subject to a follow-up with my instructor. Any violation of this agreement will result in a zero grade on the exam and an academic honesty report on my student record. I agree to not disclose the details of this exam as outlined above. I understand the consequences of violating this exam integrity agreement.”

Article: Just How Dishonest are Most Students? 

Many are tempted to cheat, but honor codes are surprisingly effective in curbing the problem.”