The big picture on academic integrity
As we’ve seen from recent events, it’s vital for students to have a comprehensive understanding of academic integrity and plagiarism before the leave university and enter the work force. But academic integrity goes far beyond Turnitin alone, and ideally should be addressed before students are submitting assignments to Turnitin. In this post, we’ll look at some of the strategies that are can be used for plagiarism prevention.
Different institutions have different types of approaches to this issue. Findings from recent research (Bretag et al., 2011; Bretag, 2012; Bretag et al., 2013; Bretag & Mahmud, 2014) indicate that no one method works alone, and a multi-layered, institution-wide approach is needed. Take a look at some of the different approaches below.
Clear, concise, and well-understood policies on academic integrity, misconduct, what to do in the event of breaches, and consequences for breaches should be clearly articulated, and followed by both academics and students. A report from the University of Sydney (PDF) also highlights the importance of approaching academic integrity as a positive goal to strive towards, rather than a punitive rule.
Curriculum and Assessment Design
There are several ways to improve understandings of academic integrity through the curriculum (across courses) and assessment (within courses). In first-year courses, for example, low-stakes referencing assments and embedded academic skills workshops can help students better understand the requirements for referencing and writing with academic integrity. The types of assessments that are set in a course can also have a big impact on plagiarism rates. This includes things like working on a project throughout a semester, group tasks, assessments based on personal experience (such as journals), clinical placements or internships, and breaking up high-stakes assessments into several smaller ones. Rather than submitting one large, high-stakes essay worth 40%, students could produce an annotated bibliography worth 10%, an essay outline worth 10%, and a final essay worth 20% to receive feedback on their process work and references before the written piece is finished.
Learning support for students
Most universities have teams, such as ANU’s Academic Skills and Learning Centre, which directly support students with writing, referencing, and other academic skills, and who can provide embedded workshops and other assistance. Many universities also have online academic integrity modules that students complete during their first semester. Some universities have made completion of these modules mandatory. Further to education, ongoing support resources provide students a stronger chance of learning how to write with academic integrity. Our research (Silvey, Snowball, & Do, 2016) around whether Turnitin can assist students to write with academic integrity demonstrates that even with embedded academic integrity workshops and training about using Turnitin, students require time and multiple attempts to hone their skills in writing with academic integrity.
Training for staff
Providing staff training about identifying and reporting academic integrity issues is another element of best practice (Bretag et al., 2011). As people have already noted in the comments during this coffee course, detecting academic integrity issues is difficult in many cases, so support for staff is needed around this issue. Providing training and support around how to use software such as Turnitin, good assessment design, and how to address potential cases of contract cheating is vital to ensure that institutions have consistent approaches. This requires time for attending training and dealing with academic integrity issues to be included in staff workloads, including sessional staff.
Reporting and tracking academic misconduct
Consistent and efficient reporting is necessary to achieve an effective institutional approach. One of the challenges that implementing such reporting standards presents is to have a system that can achieve this aim. Another approach that has been adopted by some universities is to have central or faculty-based academic integrity officers. These staff can assist in detecting and responding to cases of academic integrity breaches.
All in all, having an institutional approach can send a consistent message about the importance of academic integrity. It can also have a significant impact on supporting students and providing sufficient and meaningful education.
We’d like to hear from you now regarding your experiences with the approaches listed above. Some questions to think about:
- How familiar with the approaches (listed above) were you?
- What does your institution do to prevent academic misconduct? Do you think it is effective, and what do you think could be improved?
- Do you know where to access the policies or student support of your institution? How familiar with them are you?
- How has this course impacted your understanding of academic integrity?
Let us know in the comments!
- Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism Taskforce. (2015). An Approach to Minimising Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism at the University of Sydney Part 1. Prevention and Detection Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism Taskforce 2 Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://sydney.edu.au/elearning/student/EI/an-approach-to-minimising-academic-misconduct-and-plagiarism-at-the-university-of-sydney-part-1.pdf
- Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism Taskforce. (2015). An Approach to Minimising Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism at the University of Sydney, Part 2.. Retrieved from http://sydney.edu.au/elearning/student/EI/an-approach-to-minimising-academic-misconduct-and-plagiarism-at-the-university-of-sydney-part-2.pdf
- Belter, R. W., & du Pré, A. (2009). A Strategy to Reduce Plagiarism in an Undergraduate Course. Teaching of Psychology, 36(4), 257–261. http://doi.org/10.1080/00986280903173165
- Bretag, T 2012, Academic integrity standards project, Asia Pacific Forum on Educational Integrity (APFEI), Retrieved October 14, 2016, http://aisp.apfei.edu.au/
- Bretag, T., & Mahmud, S. (2013). Academic integrity standards : aligning policy and practice in Australian universities. Office for Learning and Teaching. Retrieved October 14, 2016, http://www.olt.gov.au/resource-academic-integrity-standards
- Bretag, T., & Mahmud, S. (2014). Embedding and extending exemplary academic integrity policy and support frameworks across the higher education sector. Retrieved October 14, 2016, http://olt.gov.au/project-embedding-and-extending-exemplary-academic-integrity-policy-and-support-frameworks-across-hi
- Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., James, C., Green, M., East, J., McGowan, U. & Partridge, L. (2011). Core elements of exemplary academic integrity policy in Australian higher education. International Journal for Educational Integrity International Journal for Educational Integrity International Journal for Educational Integrity, 7(2), 3–12. Retrieved October 12, 2016, http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/journals/index.php/IJEI/
- Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Walker, R., Green, M., Wallace, M., East, J., McGowan, U., James, C., & Partridge, L. 2013, Academic integrity standards: Aligning policy and practice in Australian universities, Office of Learning and Teaching Final Report, October 14, 2016, http://www.olt.gov.au/system/files/resources/PP10_1783_Bretag_report_2013.pdf
- Commonwealth of Australia. Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015. (2015). Attorney-General’s Department. Retrieved from https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2015L01639/Html/Text
- Nayak, A. C., Richards, D., Homewood, J., Taylor, M., & Saddiqui, S. (2015). Academic Integrity in Australia – Understanding and Changing Culture and Practice. Retrieved October 14, 2016, http://www.olt.gov.au/project-academic-integrity-australia-%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%93-understanding-and-changing-culture-and-practice-2012
- Owens, C., & White, F. A. (2013). A 5-year systematic strategy to reduce plagiarism among first-year psychology university students. Australian Journal of Psychology, 65(1), 14–21. http://doi.org/10.1111/ajpy.12005
- Silvey, V., Snowball, T., & Do, T. (2016). Bridge over troubled water: A literacy approach to using Turnitin. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 10(1), A206-A222. Retrieved October 15, 2016, http://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/386/243