Academic Integrity at UWindsor
Fostering Academic Integrity
A common concern about assignments that don’t occur in a proctored setting is the possibility that students will cheat. Research into student motives for cheating, however, indicates that the key reasons students resort to plagiarism and other forms of cheating are not connected to the degree of oversight, but are related to pressure, work overload, lack of confidence in their ability to complete assignments successfully, or cultural differences in views of citation and authority.
The following are key strategies to help mitigate plagiarism in assignment design:
- Design assignments that make cheating difficult: Assessments that require originality, synthesis of specific materials, or substantial analysis are much more difficult to plagiarize than those that ask only for memorization or definitions. Consider, for example, having your students address a specific audience or incorporate specific course materials into their assignments. This will make it much more difficult to locate and copy relevant material.
- Design assignments with collaboration and open books in mind: Another option is to embrace the possibility that students may want to discuss the assignment or conduct some research. Key is to choose high level problems that have many different solutions, and let students know that while they must submit individual responses, they are welcome to consult each other and the wider literature. You can even provide a forum for these discussions (eg discussion boards or blogs) where you can monitor and provide support.
- Ensure assignments are relevant and expectations clear: Research indicates that students are most likely to resort to plagiarism when they do not see the value of the assignment or understand what it is they are supposed to do. When they can see the value of the exercise to their future courses or careers and thoroughly understand the tasks they are expected to complete, they are much more likely to do the work themselves.
- Be candid about the value of academic integrity: Explain to students why academic integrity is important and provide resources to help ensure students know how to cite properly. You might also consider Academic Honour Codes, where you ask each student to provide an affirmation that their work is their own on the cover page of assignments, or respond to a question affirming their identity when taking a test. (Please see below for some sample wording.) These measures do not guarantee that students will be telling the truth, but they do provide additional impetus to act with integrity.
- Use plagiarism detection software: Blackboard provides SafeAssign, and if enabled when setting up your assignment, will compare student work against a database that includes their peers’ assignments, as well as webpages and journals. This will give you insight into the degree to which an assignment may have been copied. Note that the results may take time during periods of increased load on the systems – and results do need to be interpreted with caution. For more information on using SafeAssign: https://help.blackboard.com/SafeAssign/Instructor/In_Your_Course. For more information on interpreting SafeAssign results: Tips for Using and Interpreting SafeAssign
- View metadata on submitted documents. If you suspect that a student has cheated, you can look at the document properties to get a better sense of the origins of that document, the authors and date that it was created and modified.
Academic Honour Codes
Academic Honour Codes can mitigate academic dishonesty by enlisting student support in the creation and maintenance of a culture of academic integrity. Research indicates that where honour codes are employed, students are more likely to see themselves as part of a community founded on trust, mutual recognition and support (McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 2001). Because they value the privileges that arise from this type of community over a culture where compliance to rules is enforced only through punishment, they are less likely to succumb to the temptations to cheat.
An academic integrity code may be as simple as having students attach a verification that an assignment or test that they are submitting is their original work, or it may be used in the context of an overall course, or across the institution. The statements below provide some sample wording that you might use. Whichever you choose, ensure students sign and date the statements --or if online, indicate their agreement by checking a box or clicking a button.
Sample wording for individual assignments or tests:
I, _____________________, verify that the submitted work is my own and adheres to all my Academic Rights and Responsibilities as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
A less formal option:
I, ____________________, verify that that the submitted work is my own, original work, that all sources are cited accurately, and that I have not submitted any portion of this work for any other university course.
Sample wording incorporating classroom expectations and codes of conduct beyond just academic integrity
I, ____________________________, understand that in order to achieve the learning outcomes of this course, it is important that all work done is my own, original work, and that any sources I have drawn on in pursuit of my knowledge be accurately cited. In addition, to foster learning of all in the class, it is important that I contribute to the learning of others by maintaining respectful discussion with my classmates, completing readings and assigned work before class, contributing my share to group work, and taking into consideration any constructive criticism that could help me improve.
A more general code drawing in the language of ByLaw 31:
As a member of the University of Windsor community, I am committed to uphold the University’s primary purposes and objectives:
- The advancement of learning and the dissemination of knowledge; and
- The intellectual, spiritual, moral, social and physical development of its members and students and the betterment of society.
To further theses end, I agree to promote a safe and mutually respectful environment and act responsibly and with honesty, trust, respect and fairness at all time.
A more general code drawing on the Student Code of Conduct
As a member of the University of Windsor community of scholars, I am aware of its motto, Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge, and am committed to act with integrity to advance knowledge in an open, accepting and friendly manner with a goal to making important contributions to society.
To further these goals, I will respect the dignity and individuality of all persons, and the physical, intellectual, and moral rights and property of others. I will practice personal and academic integrity, take responsibility for my own personal and academic commitments, and to contribute to the University community to gain fair, cooperative and honest inquiry and learning.
A more general code referencing specific rules
As a member of the University of Windsor community of scholars, I understand that academic integrity is a core value supporting quality research and constructive dissemination of knowledge in the community. I recognize that plagiarism, claiming credit for work not my own, or other forms of cheating, will undermine any contribution that I may make, and by extension the value of the degree program that I am pursuing.
Accordingly, I will uphold my rights and responsibilities as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct and adhere to academic integrity principles and rules outlined in Senate-ByLaw 31.
Bartholomae, David. "Inventing the university." Journal of Basic Writing 5.1 (1986): 4-23.
Christensen Hughes, J.M. and McCabe, D.L. (2006). Understanding academic misconduct. Canadian Journal of Higher Education 36(1): 49‐63
Franklyn-Stokes, A. & Newstead, S.E. (1995) Undergraduate cheating: Who does what and why?, Studies in Higher Education, 20:2, 159-172, DOI: 10.1080/03075079512331381673
Gallant, T.B. 2008. Academic Integrity in the 21st Century: A Teaching and Learning Imperative. ASHE Higher Education Report: Volume 33(5). John Wiley and Sons.
Gillis, K., Lang, S., Norris, M. and Palmer, L. (2009). Electronic plagiarism checkers: Barriers to developing an academic voice. The WAC Journal, 20, 51.
Howard, R. M., Serviss, T., & Rodrigue, T. K. (2010). Writing from sources, writing from sentences. Writing and Pedagogy, 2(2), 177-192.
Howard, R. M. (2002). Don't police plagiarism: just teach!. Education Digest, 67(5), 46-49.
Jamieson, Sandra. (2013). “Reading and Engaging Sources: What Student’s Use of Sources Reveals About Advanced Reading Skills.” In Across the Disciplines (ATD), Special issue on Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum.
McCabe, Trevino, Butterfield (2001) Cheating in Academic Institutions: A decade of information http://www.middlebury.edu/media/view/257513/original/Decade_of_Research.pdf
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