Systems Thinking and Academic Integrity
Catching students making bad decisions around academic integrity isn’t difficult, but setting them up for success requires agile thinking and a willingness to change our practices, such as data collection.
“My presentation focused on data collection regarding academic misconduct,” shared Lisa. “Institutions often collect data on students, such as when and where they have participated in some form of academic misconduct, and they record that data. It’s typically meant as a deterrent because it would end up on the student’s record. There are good reasons for recording misconduct. But that data actually has a lot of information. For example, suppose I have data on all the academic misconduct incidents over the past year. In that case, I can review the data to learn what time of year, which courses, which departments, and what kind of assignments are more apt to lead to academic misconduct. The collected data can help isolate the pinch points and problem areas for faculty and students. And you can further analyze the data to identify assessments that are causing the issue, leading to conversations on ways to build better assessments or support departments that are seeing an increased level of reports.
“When we collect data, we have a duty to use it to support students. By doing this, we can identify where these issues are happening and then create pathways so the same issues don’t recur repeatedly.”
Only in Canada
Geographically, holding the event in Manitoba may have been a surprising move, but academically, intellectually, and emotionally, this might have been the absolute best place to bring it to the rest of the world.
“A lot of academic conferences don’t have that same vibe,” explained Josh. “The way the colleges and universities in Canada, and particularly in Manitoba, work together on academic integrity is fairly rare. We got to see and chat with faculty, administrators, and support staff: it’s a topic where a lot of people in various roles at different institutions can be involved and show off what they’re doing. That’s usually not the case, especially for small colleges like ours. We often can’t participate in the same conferences as the bigger universities, whether it’s library conferences or something to do with curriculum, whatever it might be, but these two days were just fun. The vibe was good, and people were open to sharing ideas.”
“Because it was a little less formal,” shared Brenda, “Some might question the validity and quality of the event, but our international visitors talked about the high quality of the presentations and presenters. Abstracts were submitted to be peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers for each submission. We couldn’t fit all of them into the program — there were just so many good submissions — but the highest-ranked ones ended up in the final program. This came through in the comments people made about the conference: it was high quality, yet still positive and enjoyable.”
The Roadmap for Academic Integrity in Canada
Brenda finished with, “The Manitoba Academic Integrity network has two primary activities: we’ll be planning our 2023-2024 Speaker Series, which is a virtual speaker series open to all post-secondary staff and students in Manitoba and has been opened up to those across Canada. Academic Integrity Inter-Institutional Meeting (AIIIM) will be hosted next year by a soon-to-be-appointed institution. The Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity is normally a bi-annual event, but Martine Peters of the University of Quebec will be hosting it next year because it coincides with another event that she was planning. It’ll be great to bring those two events together. As well, greater connections with other researchers and practitioners are on the horizon for this next year.”
“I’m not suggesting that you can eliminate misconduct, but if you put those resources in earlier and start to predict some of these times where there’ll be issues, by the end, you should need less energy to deal with fewer cases.” – Lisa Vogt, communications instructor, Red River College Polytechnic