Refining Academic Integrity Strategies

It is time to be strategic.

As we prepare for next semester, it seems as if there is more to do and less time than ever before.  Managing increasing academic misconduct caseloads with limited budgets and few staff can seem especially daunting. Faculty managing academic misconduct may feel removed from the process, relying on online tutorials and remote communication to resolve issues. Students are overwhelmed and making sense of an altered learning environment.

There is an ongoing, meaningful conversation about the increases in sophistication of computer-assisted tools designed to pass off unattributed academic work, or to provide test and assignment answers. An immediate response is to be as vigilant as possible, to prevent the perception of academic dishonesty. In response, software and curriculum designed to respond to cheating is also created at a rapid pace. It can be time consuming to keep track of the updates, products, and offers. For those of us who prioritize academic integrity, the time for an effective strategy in refining our tools and product decisions is now. Christian Moriarty offers important suggestions to update or create a new policy. While tools and products are great resources, consider these tips as you refine and refresh your strategy to manage academic misconduct.

Education –No tool can replace targeted resources to provide faculty and students with clear policies, guidance, and support in maintaining academic integrity. Need help? Consider ICAI’s top 10 ways to improve academic integrity (without much money).

Consistency– Does the strategy, tool, or product you are considering align with your mission? Do the processes align with policies of the academic units you serve? What are the educational supports available beyond the technical considerations? Consider restorative practices designed to align with the mission of your institution.

Logistics-products and curriculum look great on paper, but what are the challenges these processes have, and how will they be resolved? Is your strategy effective in the online environment? Is the product easy to use? There is never a one-size fits all approach.

Stakeholder buy in- Consider who will use the tool. Does the product interface with current faculty systems? What is the learning curve? Are all instructors encouraged and supported in using the product? Do administrators understand the decision-making behind the choice?  How will students engage with the product? A purchase of a program that no one uses means that everyone loses.

Equity- How do we make equity universal? Consider carefully what the data shows.  Are there disproportionate reports from a particular course, a particular student demographic? Look for trends as an opportunity to educate, and to interrogate the why of the violation. What is the behavior in response to, and how can the institution be a part of mediating the issue? Lead with care, and care by understanding the data and the nuance behind the numbers.

Sustainability– Will the program be institutionalized, or will this remain a stop-gap measure? What are the additional costs (time and otherwise?)

Contract cheating- Does the program plan account for the nuances of contract cheating? Symbolic events like supporting the International Day against Contract Cheating is a way

Student voice– Is the program vetted by a student advisory? To what extent do students feel as if they are a trusted part of the academic community? Centering the student perspective helps us to be as responsive as possible to their needs and concerns.

There has been little control over the past semester. Intentional strategy building will make all the difference.

About the Author
Ceceilia Parnther, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Administrative and Instructional Leadership at St. John’s University. Her research interests include academic integrity education and college student success initiatives. Before joining the faculty, Ceceilia worked in student and academic affairs in various capacities including academic integrity, advisement, and student conduct. Among others, her most recent research is found in Innovative Higher Education, New Directions for Community Colleges, and The Journal of College Student Retention. Ceceilia’s blog posts are her own and do not necessarily represent the postings, strategies, or opinions of her employer.
css.php