Academic integrity is an ongoing issue faced by many education institutions worldwide. While tools like Turnitin help in detecting plagiarism, other factors like ghost writing, purchased assignments and text manipulation (sometimes also fooling Turnitin), ask for more processes to be put into place. Over the past two years at SIBT we have introduced various approaches to educate both staff and students about academic integrity. We have since experienced a significant drop in academic misconduct cases reported.
These are some processes that have proven successful so far:
Student awareness and understanding of academic integrity
All core Academic Communication units across all Diploma disciplines now include a holistic Academic Integrity Module discussed in week 2. Participants conduct a quiz following this module and are required to achieve 100% (multiple attempts allowed) as part of their unit portfolio requirements.
Some units now have bite-size portfolio tasks providing clear scaffolding and practice for students to prepare themselves for the final assessment. For example, in COMM101 Writing and Research for Arts and Communication, students work on paraphrasing, summarising, writing an introduction, writing body paragraphs, writing a conclusion, and referencing skills throughout the session, before writing an essay in class as a final exam. The weekly portfolio tasks carry significant weighting and contribute to their final score, as an additional incentive.
In-class examinations replaced assignments for Academic Communication
In-class examinations have replaced take-home assignments in the Foundation and Diploma Academic Communication units. High similarity reports on Turnitin and discrepancies between student performance in class and writing level in assignments were recurrent problems. Consequently, due to Turnitin loop holes, take-home assignments were deemed unreliable to assess student learning and language capabilities in such units.
Authentic learning and assessment tasks
Interactive in-class activities such as role-plays, discussions and case studies have been added to help students link their learning to real-world experiences. In the Diploma of Engineering, success in most units relied heavily on a final examination, some carrying up to 70% of the final score. Contrastingly, in the new Engineering capstone unit students design and assess a bridge model, as one of their major tasks, helping them to connect theory with practice (as explained by Dr Saad Odeh via the Learning and Teaching website here).
The number of crib sheets allowed in final exams has been increased, encouraging students to conduct revision and prepare themselves more thoroughly in the lead up to an exam. Having official crib sheet notes may have had an effect in reducing the number of cheating cases in exams that require memorisation of formulas, such as in ENG101 Physics, where students still have to demonstrate correct application of formulas in the problems presented.
Workshops and teacher consultation hours
New exam preparation workshops have been introduced in some units (such as MATH101 Mathematics B and ENG100 Fundamentals of Digital Design) to help students with exam revision in the lead up to exams. Teacher consultation hours and contact details are now highlighted on SIBT Learning, so students can contact their teachers easily if additional one-on-one support is needed.
Teacher professional development
The Learning Technologies Manager and Program Convenors offer one-on-one Turnitin Feedback Studio training to SIBT teachers. Turnitin Feedback Studio is now embedded in SIBT Learning, and is used for online tasks submissions. Teachers can provide electronic feedback directly on Turnitin reports. Additionally, Turnitin webcasts have been shared with teachers for additional practice.
An Academic Integrity Module and quiz may be introduced for SIBT teaching staff, to help them be fully aware of institution processes around academic misconduct, and also to promote an educational rather than punitive approach with students, especially at Foundation level. We also plan to review and update SIBT’s Academic Honesty Policy and fine-tune processes around assessing academic misconduct, with clear guidelines on how to follow-up on cheating or plagiarism, for more consistency and alignment, and for valid assessment of student skills and progress.
Here some additional resources on academic integrity from the learning and teaching community:
- L&T Framework: academic integrity
- ‘Tricks’ that students may use to fool Turnitin
- Strategies that promote academic integrity
- How do we ensure teachers are giving students the same messages about academic integrity?
- Academic integrity online world cafe