Going Beyond a Day to Become a Voice
University of Wollongong in Dubai has been participating in the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating consistently since its inception more than three years ago.
Dr Zeenath Reza Khan, Assistant Professor and Head of Integrity in Academic and Beyond Research & Learning Forum at the university began researching in the area in 2005 and successfully completed a PhD thesis in 2014. When ICAI announced the first International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating, Dr Khan along with her cohort of student volunteers joined in and collectively spread the word on campus and had a great response to the “whiteboard declarations” (see Zeenath’s twitter feed for examples!). In fact, by the second year, the momentum had increased, with student clubs and faculty members showing strong interest in becoming part of the campaign.
So in 2017, the team organized a whole Week of Actions against Contract Cheating with some funding from the Asia Pacific Forum on Educational Integrity. The week saw student clubs organizing workshops to engage participants in understanding the psychology behind cheating, arguing impact of policies and ending with a colloquium of presentations by both faculty and students and a poster competition.
In 2018, the event grew to mammoth proportions, with the organizing team increasing to include Dr Sabiha Mumtaz, supported by the UOW-UOWD Global Challenges Academic Integrity Grant and going beyond contract cheating to celebrate a Week of Actions Against Academic Misconduct. With participation from other universities, students and faculty, the week included library awareness sessions, workshops on policies and the importance of an educative approach, research presentations by Education Program Leader and Research Associate Dean, and an enlightening panel discussion of students and faculty discussing and debating student attitude towards academic misconduct, including contract cheating. The campaigns took the concept of a day of action against contract cheating, growing in size and scope over the years to become a collective voice that highlights interest from the student body, both undergraduate and postgraduate, with students joining as part of organizing team or as participants. The impact of the campaigns has in fact been very substantial with documented cases of students and alumni alike now regularly speaking out against contract cheating services and advertisements targeting them.