An International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating Spotlight: Deree – The American College of Greece

Topics: Blog, Spotlight

All of us involved in education are rightfully alarmed at the contract cheating industry’s growth. In our educational institutions, we hopefully seek out different opportunities to promote academic integrity to our varied stakeholders – particularly our students – and communicate how vital it is to uphold integrity, regardless of the challenges. Today, challenges posed by contract cheating, particularly, make it even more critical that we are vocal about where we stand.

Such reasons are central to why Deree -The American College of Greece, has participated in the International Day of Action against Contract Cheating (IDoA) for the last 3 years. Like most participating institutions in 2016, we too relied fundamentally on students’ making whiteboard pledges to #excelwithintegrity and #defeatthecheat. But in 2017, a student creative idea made us sit up and take notice of the potential for impact. The cost involved in contract cheating was the literal but mainly metaphoric inspiration of a student’s theater installation, performed in a very public venue of our college. A couple of other students also created a simple version of Snakes & Ladders, a Contract Cheating version, with a meaningful caption (pictured above).

Student creativity and potential for engagement were in place to spur the next IDoA, but it required commitment from as many stakeholders as possible if a powerful message was to emerge.

For 2 years’ running, we have initiated the actual event day with a combined student-faculty presentation of student-team analytical reports examining aspects of contract cheating (e.g. extent; legal challenges), thereby allowing student work and voices to be heard directly by faculty.

Additionally, this past year, Student Government introduced an idea similar to the whiteboard pledges – but as video testimonials of student leaders advocating for integrity/against contract cheating. Used as countdown technique and uploaded on social media to draw attention to the IDoA, potential for further impact – stemming from combined visual and auditory stimuli as well as timing and outreach through communication channel – was evident (see one such testimonial here)

A video of what we accomplished – as well as its short trailer – showcases well what occurred at our IdoA – even if not all activities are visible.

What you can hopefully see is that by no means was it the activities alone that made the event successful or memorable; it was the spirit of collaboration among students, faculty, and administrators that particularly made a difference. Some of the success achieved may be due to the (more) intimate atmosphere that can exist in a small institution. That the theme of uniqueness, however, emerged naturally and rather spontaneously from some activities showcased a critical message about each of us, our worth, and acquired skills. Directly or subliminally, this is a critical message to pass.

Deree raised its voice strongly for IDoA 2018 and passed a collective message: committing to the advancement of AI values and persevering in outreach efforts harnesses strong possibilities. We can only hope that this coming year’s success will be as memorable – and wish it for other institutions, too.

About the Author
Evangeline (Litsa) Mourelatos has been teaching at Deree, The American College of Greece (ACG) for over three decades. Returning to her native Greece from Canada, her strong interest in academic integrity began early in her career, motivated particularly by wanting to understand different cultural attitudes on the subject. She spearheaded a number of initiatives that mobilized the building of an academic integrity culture at her institution. As early members of the ICAI back in the '90s, she helped Deree organize a full Faculty Retreat with Donald McCabe at a time when he was just beginning to build international collaborations and few international colleges were actively exploring the subject. Deree maintained its interest until instrumental leadership culminated in its hosting an ICAI international conference in the Mediterranean (Athens, 2016) – a group picture of which you can still see on the ICAI landing page. Litsa’s more recent efforts have revolved around empowering students and building faculty-student collaborations, particularly around the IDoA.