Enhancing Academic Integrity

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Academic employees have a unique position of fostering academic integrity directly in interactions with students. While part of this position may involve elements of enforcement, much of this position involves proactively promoting expectations and standards for academic integrity in courses, programs, work-integrated learning, and other academic activities.

Consider best practices for enhancing academic integrity in preparation and delivery of these academic activities so that breaches:

  1. Incorporate academic integrity into your classes early, and often.
  2. Make academic integrity meaningful beyond rules and classrooms.
  3. Anticipate and learn about ongoing challenges with academic integrity.
  4. Consider designing assessments to reward academic integrity.
  • Consider adding a brief academic integrity statement on your learning plan or in a course module on MyCanvas
  • Explicit instructions at the beginning and throughout
    • Offer a definition upfront, and include just-in-time reminders before assessments and evaluations
  • Model academic integrity practices yourself by including image credits, bibliography, and even encourage students to cite one another through in-class work. Normalize citations and references as everyday occurrences
  • Incorporate academic integrity discussions and practices in all courses, not just first semester
    • Do not assume students have prior knowledge, even if the course is in a post-graduate certificate program or as part of an upper-semester cohort
  • Offer examples - especially beyond the classroom
  • Consider discussing the following three questions with students:
    • Why does academic integrity matter here at Mohawk College?
    • Why does academic integrity matter in your industry or profession?
    • What harm may be done if students do not act with integrity?
  • In-class time for conversations about assessments before each assignment
  • Normalize questions and answers with, and among students
  • Talk about how to uphold academic integrity in THIS assignment - especially if they have not done it before. We often have slightly different expectations for group work, presentations, online learning, non-traditional assignments, discussion posts, etc.
  • Define expectations about "research", "originality", and other related concepts
    • What exactly do these terms mean?
    • What is "paraphrasing"?
    • What is the threshold for "common knowledge"
    • What are the boundaries of tutoring vs contract cheating, or study groups vs unauthorized collaboration?
    • What is acceptable help? Tutor? "Homework help"? Writing Centre? Google translate?
  • No assessment is "cheat-proof", and every discipline has different knowledge and skill outcomes
    • That said; our practices with assessments will contribute to a spectrum of higher to lower probability of students intentionally breaching academic integrity.
      • For example; recycling the same online multiple-choice quiz for multiple terms will likely have a higher probability of students breaching academic integrity, while oral-based assessments and in-class demonstrations may have a lower probability of intentional breaches
    • Consider scaffolding assessments
    • Include a peer review element with academic integrity criteria included, such as research integrity, reference and citation practices, and so on
    • When crafting assessments with an element of choice, constrain the choices by offering specific topics
    • Consider including oral components to assessments. Doing so can be deceptively effective and less time-consuming than you may think, especially when including specifications grading methodologies
    • When deploying traditional exams, consider:
      • Offering open book resources
      • Structuring questions around application of knowledge or skill
      • Include scenarios and/or have multiple stages
    • Consider a post-submission self-reflection activity where students must identify and reflect on their process, discoveries/surprises, and/or learning

Enhancements to academic integrity structured according to academic integrity culture-building principles per L. McNeil, (2022, June 8). Practices and Pedagogies to Foster an Inclusive Culture of Integrity. AICO Semi-Annual Meeting. Virtual.