New Open-Access Writing Textbook Highlights Academic Integrity as a Central Concept

Topics: Blog, Spotlight

Mindful Technical Writing: An Introduction to the Fundamentals is an open textbook we co-authored specifically to support student success in co-requisite pairings of developmental writing and introduction to technical writing; however, the text’s modular design is flexible enough for use in a variety of college-level writing course applications. The book is available for no-cost download: to access it from the Open Textbook Library, follow this link. The book is housed in the OER Commons as well, and available through this link.

Attending to Academic Integrity

Montana Technological University is an institutional member of the ICAI, and on October 16, 2019, the university’s Writing Program facilitated a campus education and outreach event coincidental with the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. Interactive activities included a board game called Defeat the Cheat and a chart-your-own-course experience in which participants ‘escape’ with their integrity (or not) based on the paths they choose through a scenario designed to test their understanding of academic integrity.

Additionally, the institution’s writing instructors invited responses from students, faculty, and staff to prompts about academic integrity. The prompts and some participant responses are excerpted below:

We were among the writing faculty who facilitated this awareness event, and we were pleased to learn that the outcomes supported our efforts to address critical concepts – like the importance of academic integrity – in our recently-published open textbook.

Students in developmental writing and college-level technical writing courses likely benefit from focused lessons intended to build skills that lead to academic success. In support of faculty and programs that value combining study skills work with discipline-specific instruction and a linked curriculum, our book provides ample opportunities for learners to discuss and demonstrate the ICAI’s fundamental values of “honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage” (ICAI, 2021, pg. 4). This new textbook offers multiple chapters that integrate the principles of academic integrity throughout the examples and exercises. For example, consider the following excerpt from page 270 of our “Managing Time” chapter:

Supporting Academic Success

In a co-requisite pairing, students who place into a remedial class can enroll simultaneously in a college-level and accompanying developmental course. The developmental segment of the co-requisite arrangement supports students’ success in the college-level class by combining study skills work with discipline-specific instruction and a linked curriculum.

This book’s repeated focus on academic integrity is encouraging since students in the co-requisite pairing of developmental writing and introduction to technical writing will need to hone their ethical source integration skills to be successful in their studies and can look to the textbook chapters for explicit instructional guidance in what academic integrity means and implicit guidance on how it is demonstrated in a writing product.

Mindful Technical Writing: An Introduction to the Fundamentals employs a modular design to maximize flexibility of use. By interlacing new material with reviews of key topics, such as academic integrity, and combining practical guidance with interactive exercises and thoughtfully designed writing opportunities, it also offers ample coverage of topics and genres. The textbook’s Creative Commons license means instructors can adopt it as is or customize it for their own co-requisite or other writing courses.

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge funding and support from Montana Technological University’s Faculty Seed Grant Program and the TRAILS (Treasure State Academic Information and Library Services) Open Educational Resources Program through the Office of the Commissioner for Higher Education, which helped to make the textbook a reality.

Co-Author: Stacey Corbitt

Stacey Corbitt is a faculty member of the Writing Program at Montana Technological University. She teaches developmental and college-level courses in co-requisite pairings, as well as stand-alone introductory and advanced writing courses. She earned an M.S. degree in Technical Communication from Montana Tech of the University of Montana (now Montana Technological University). Prior to becoming a full-time writing instructor, she worked as a professional technical writer for private sector businesses and publicly-traded companies in environmental remediation, energy marketing, and public utility service contracting. Her research interests include textbook and course materials development. She values opportunities to mentor students in all disciplines, recognizing that strong writing skills serve professionals well at every career level.

Reference

ICAI. (2021). The Fundamental values of academic integrity (3rd ed.). License: CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0. Retrieved from https://www.academicintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/20019_ICAI-Fundamental-Values_R12.pdf

 

About the Author
Dawn Atkinson directs the Writing Program at Montana Technological University in Butte, Montana, and serves as interim head of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Department. She earned B.A. degrees in English and History from the University of Montana (UM), an M.A. degree in Journalism from UM, and a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Lancaster University in England. Prior to teaching writing courses at Montana Technological University, she taught on the English for Academic Purposes Programme at Lancaster University and in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at Taichung Healthcare and Management University (now Asia University) in Taiwan. Her research interests include textbook development, writing expertise, and the reading and notetaking practices used by university students. All views presented are those of the author.
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