Contract Cheating in Alberta and Beyond

October 21, 2021

As co-chairs of the Alberta Council on Academic Integrity working group on contract cheating, Sheryl Boisvert and I presented this webinar on contract cheating in Alberta as part of Integrity Week at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary. We discussed essay mills, homework completion services, unethical tutoring services, and thesis consultation services that all cross the line into academic misconduct. Participants learned about the size and scope of this predatory industry and how it preys on our students, including engaging in blackmail and extortion.

Cite this presentation as:

Eaton, S. E., & Boisvert, S. (2021, October 20). Contract cheating in Alberta and beyond. Paper presented at the Academic Integrity Week: Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary [online] Calgary, Canada. 

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


BC Academic Integrity Day (BC AID) 2021: Recap

October 16, 2021

BC Acdemic Integrity Day 1 2021-10-15 at 10.25.42 AMThis virtual event was hosted by Douglas College, with presenters from across British Columbia on Friday, October 15, 2021. At one point, I counted 123 participants in the virtual meeting room.

Welcome to the BC Academic Integrity Day

BC Acdemic Integrity Day 2 2021-10-15 at 10.25.59 AMJanette Tilley, Associate Dean, Faculty of Language, Literature and Performing Arts, Douglas College, opened the event with a land acknowledgement.

Thor Borgford, Vice President Academic and Provost, Douglas College, offered welcoming remarks. He commented that although academic integrity has been important for a long time, things have changed over the past five years, and particularly during COVID-19. He noted that looking for solutions through enforcement is not the way to go, but instead it is important to promote academic integrity so students have skills they can take with them after graduation.

Tod Denham, Exams Department Supervisor, TRU and founding member of the BC Academic Integrity Network, spoke about the history of the BC Academic Integrity Network (BC-AIN). Talked about attending a number of academic integrity events, including the first Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity at the University of Calgary. From there they organized the first BC-AID at TRU in 2019, where BC-AIN was born. He offers appreciation to Douglas College for hosting this second BC-AID.

Janette Tilley introduced the other members of the organizing committee for the conference:

  • Tod Denham (TRU)
  • Jaclyn Stewart (UBC)
  • Ainsley Rouse (UBC)
  • Arlette Stewart (SFU)
  • Marian Anderberg (TRU)
  • Laura Prada (UBCO)
  • Sean Zwagerman (SFU)

Keynote: “Deepening the Relational Ecology of Academic Integrity”BC Acdemic Integrity Day 3 2021-10-15 at 10.59.12 AM

Brenda Morrison, Associate Professor. School of Criminology and Director, Centre for Restorative Justice, SFU gave a heartfelt and sincere keynote address about the principles of restorative practices, highlighting the difference between traditional policy and restorative approaches to addressing cases of misconduct. Dr. Morrison generously shared this link to her slides.

Panel: “Inclusion and Accessibility in Academic Integrity”

BC Acdemic Integrity Day 4 2021-10-15 at 12.10.08 PM

Anita Chaudhuri (UBCO) moderated an excellent panel on accessibility and inclusion in academic integrity with these panelists:

  • Mitchell Stoddard, Director, Centre for Accessible Learning, SFU
  • Holly Salmon, Coordinator and Instructor, Learning Centre, Douglas College
  • Laurie McNeill, Professor of Teaching, Dept, of English Language and Literatures, UBC
  • Lisvet Parra Montas, former Writing and AIM Consultant and student, UBC

Some key points shared during the panel for me were:

  • There continue to be many barriers for students including barriers to learning, as well as barriers to navigating higher education systems.
  • Discrimination, along with equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are topics we must continue to address.
  • Universal design for learning (UDL) helps all students learn with integrity.
  • It is essential for us to listen to students and pay attention to their experiences.

After the panel, there was a lunch break.

Forum: Resource Sharing

After lunch Jackie Stewart (UBC) facilitated a session for participants to share resources related to academic integrity.

Laura Prada (UBCO) shared an academic integrity awareness campaign including resources for faculty members, a Zoom background and some tote bags they are giving away as prizes.

Maggie Ross (Langara College) shared a toolkit for faculty, Encouraging Academic Integrity Through a Preventative Framework, that was showcased on the ICAI blog. Maggie also shared a meme contest they have organized for and a badge they’ll wear to pledge integrity during Academic Integrity Week.

Arlette Stewart (SFU) shared a number of resources, including:

  • SFU’s assignment calculator for students
  • Information about an upcoming webinar on restorative practices in the classroom, Dr. Sheri Fabian, Director of the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines “Beyond the Classroom: How an incident of academic dishonesty kept someone out of prison” on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. PST. Here is the link to register.
  • And a couple of suggested syllabi statements from SFU, such as this one and this one.

Colleen Pawlychka from Douglas College shared her academic integrity resource and talked about how she teaches her students about academic integrity in her classes.

I shared that the University of Calgary is hosting a public webinar on October 29, “Contract Cheating in Canada: Exploring Legislative Options and also the forthcoming edited book Academic Integrity in Canada.

Laurie McNeill (UBC) shared Academic Integrity Faculty Resources

Jaclyn Stewart shared – Some suggested syllabus statements from UBC: https://teachingsupport.forestry.ubc.ca/files/2020/09/Approaches-to-Academic-Integrity-in-the-Syllabus_04-Sept-2020.pdf

Jennifer Kendall shared – HOWL (Habits of White Language) by Asao Inoue, saying it “could be a useful starting point for reflecting on our assessment practices and approaching academic integrity in a more inclusive way.”

Sandra Zappa-Hollman shared a link to this podcast with valuable episodes about citing, referencing, and paraphrasing.

Panel: “Responses to Contract Cheating”

BC Academic Integrity Day 5 2021-10-15 at 2.32.46 PM

Tod Denham (TRU) moderated a panel of experts from across higher education in British Columbia:

  • Jeff Longland, Project Lead and Solutions Architect, Learning Analytics Project, UBC
  • Sean Zwagerman, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, SFU
  • Will Gunton, Chair, Dept. Physics and Astronomy, Douglas College
  • Marian Anderberg. Director, Student Affairs, TRU

Key takeaways from this panel for me were:

  • There are ways to detect contract cheating, but this work requires resources (dedicated staff and time to do the work).
  • Commercial file-sharing and contract cheating companies are particularly problematic. A shoutout to this article by Thomas Lancaster and Codrin Cortarlan was shared.
  • Need to name contract cheating institutional policy documents.
  • Contract cheating has been increasing during the pandemic and it happens across a variety of courses.
  • Contract cheating is committed by both domestic and international students, but some contract cheating companies are specifically targeting international students, including offering a shadow curriculum in other languages, such as Mandarin, and offering contract cheating as a supplementary service.
  • Companies offering to complete entire online courses on behalf of students seem to be increasing.
  • A model of progressive discipline is common, though there have been more students being suspended for academic misconduct violations including contract cheating during the pandemic.
  • Structural change is needed, including policy revision, and casting an EDI lens on contract cheating. There are myths that need to be busted about who engages in contract cheating and why.
  • Shadow courses and contract cheating companies that have local storefronts are not uncommon in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
  • Administrators have been receiving an increasing number of anonymous tips about contact cheating. It is not known if these tips are coming from legitimate students or competing contract cheating suppliers.
  • Sean Zwagerman shared the Petition: Academic Integrity Letter to the Ministry 2021.
  • Catching students will not solve the larger contract cheating problem.

Forum: Future Work in Academic Integrity in BC

Tod Denham (TRU) facilitated a closing conversation about the future of the British Columbia Academic Integrity Network (BC AIN). Janette Tilley closed the event and thanked everyone for attending.

All in all, this was a fabulous virtual event that showcased how post-secondary institutions in British Columbia are promoting academic integrity across their province.

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Share or Tweet this: BC Academic Integrity Day (BC AID) 2021: Recap – https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2021/10/16/bc-academic-integrity-day-bc-aid-2021-recap/

This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.


New Academic Integrity Research from Canada (October, 2021)

October 15, 2021

I think this might be a record for the number of academic integrity research outputs in Canada across different venues, all published in a single week: two articles, each published in a different journal, as well as two conference presentations. It’s one thing to have a series of research outputs from a single source, such as one issue of a journal or a set of conference proceedings, but what’s worth celebrating here is that these are from multiple, peer-reviewed sources.

Hu & Zhang (2021) and Liang et al. (2021) have papers in the proceedings from Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse International Students in Open and/or Online Learning Environments: A Research Symposium hosted by the University of Windsor in June:

Hu, J., & Zhang, C. (2021). ESL student plagiarism prevention challenges and institutional interventions. Paper presented at the Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse International Students in Open and/or Online Learning Environments: A Research Symposium (Online), University of Windsor, ON. https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1048&context=itos21

Liang, A., Maddison, T., & England, S. (2021). Proactive not punitive: Strategies to prevent plagiarism and promote international student success. Paper presented at the Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse International Students in Open and/or Online Learning Environments: A Research Symposium (Online), University of Windsor, ON. https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1053&context=itos21

Josh Seeland and colleagues from Manitoba published this Classroom Note in the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology (Taylor & Francis):

Seeland, J., Cliplef, L., Munn, C., & Dedrick, C. (2021). Mathematics and academic integrity: institutional support at a Canadian college. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/0020739X.2021.1981472

And last but not least, the latest article from the Contract Cheating in Canada: National Policy Analysis project that I’m leading has been published in the Canadian Journal for Educational Administration and Policy. This paper reports on our policy analysis of Ontario Universities.

Miron, J. B., McKenzie, A., Eaton, S. E., Stoesz, B. M., Thacker, E., Devereaux, L., . . . Rowbotham, K. (2021). Academic integrity policy analysis of publicly-funded universities in Ontario, Canada: A focus on contract cheating. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 197, 62-75. https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cjeap/article/view/72082

In 2018 when I co-published with Rachael Edino a literature review about existing research from Canada on academic integrity, we reported that we’d found 56 sources published over 25 years. I am so proud to see how far we have come as a Canadian community to build our research and practice expertise and mobilize that knowledge via high quality peer-reviewed journals and conferences.

In case you’re wondering if academic integrity is a field of research, it absolutely is, with high quality scholarly outputs coming out every month, from scholars across the world. Of course, I highlight outputs from my compatriots because I am happy for them and proud of their work, and we are part of a global community of scholars, educators, and professionals across the world doing this work. (Hey, colleagues in Australia and the UK, are you reading this? We are catching up to you!)

Check out these recent publications and see what we’ve been doing in Canada. It’s pretty awesome.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.


Webinar: Contract Cheating in Canada: Exploring Legislative Options

October 4, 2021

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: URGENT AND EMERGING TOPICSJoin us for an introductory discussion about the commercial contract cheating industry (e.g., term paper mills, homework completion services, and paid imposters who take exams on behalf of students). One question people often ask is, “Why aren’t these services illegal?” The short answer is: Academic cheating services are not currently illegal in Canada, but they are in other countries. In this session we’ll provide an overview of which countries have successfully enacted legislation against predatory industry that profits from academic misconduct. We will provide an overview of the legal structures in Canada that might facilitate or present barriers to such legislation being enacted in this country. We do not promise answers or solutions to the complex issue of contract cheating, but instead provide an evidence-base for deeper discussion.

The intended audience for this session is primarily for those in Canada interested in contract cheating from the Canadian legal context. Participants from other regions are also welcome.

By the end of this session engaged participants will be able to: 

  • Describe what contract cheating is
  • Understand how legislation against contract cheating has been enacted in other countries
  • Discover legal aspects of contract cheating in Canada and beyond

Facilitators: Alicia Adlington &  Sarah Elaine Eaton, University of Calgary
Date: Friday, October 29, 2021
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. (Note: This is Mountain Time. Please convert to your local time zone)
Location: Online via Zoom

Please note: Registration will close on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (MT) and a Zoom link for the webinar will be sent the morning of the workshop.

Register now

For more information, visit the website: https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/series-and-events/academic-integrity-urgent-emerging-topics

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Share or Tweet this: Webinar: Contract Cheating in Canada: Exploring Legislative Options https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2021/10/04/webinar-contract-cheating-in-canada-exploring-legislative-options/

This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.


Indigenous Academic Integrity: A Post in Honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021

21-TAY-Orange-Shirt-DayToday marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. The purpose of the day is to honour Survivors of residential schools and those who died in them.

Keeta Gladue Headshot (web size)A few days ago Keeta Gladue, Indigenous Student Advisor and Team Lead at the Writing Symbols Lodge at the University of Calgary reached out to me and asked me to consider writing a blog post today about Indigenous ways of citing and referencing. Keeta led the Indigenous Academic Integrity project, which has not only benefitted our university, but has been shared further at other institutions across the country including Ryerson University (Ontario) and Red River College (Manitoba), among others. Keeta has also presented this project nationally and internationally. Check out the recorded version of one of her presentations on this project here.

Keeta is not alone in her efforts to bring awareness to the ways in which academic integrity is embedded in Indigenous ways of knowing, being, teaching, and learning. Iehnhotonkwas B.J. Maracle from the University of Toronto developed “Seven Grandfathers in Academic Integrity”, a fantastic resource that is publicly available as a .pdf.

The impact of residential schools on Indigenous children, in terms ethical and moral violations, not to mention outright abuse and crime, could fill volumes. When Keeta asked me to think about a blog specifically about Indigenous citing and referencing, that resonated with me. This post is not intended to trivialize, diminish, or dismiss the importance of broader conversations about residential schools, decolonization, or reconciliation. Instead, it is intended to honour the Indigenous scholars, educators, and knowledge keepers I have learned from, directly and indirectly, with respect to my work as an academic integrity scholar and advocate, including Keeta Gladue, Yvonne Poitras Pratt, Gabrielle Lindstrom, among others. It is also intended to generate broader conversations about the need to question systems of oppression that get labelled as “integrity” when do little or nothing to promote integrity at all.

Truth

Before we get to reconciliation, we start with truth. Here are some truths about citing and referencing:

  1. Citing and referencing styles are established, by and large, by organizations (e.g., APA, MLA) that profit from the sale of manuals and guidebooks that prescribe conventions for how citing and referencing should be done in a particular discipline.
  2. The organizations that set up citing and referencing systems are generally academic in nature, and their boards of directors are often populated by white scholars, many of whom are male. Indigenous scholars (as well as Black and other scholars of colour) are rarely, if ever, elected or appointed to the boards that govern these organizations.
  3. Citing and referencing manuals universally ignore or diminish the value of Indigenous knowledge by failing to provide adequate guidance about how to cite and reference Indigenous knowledge. (See this article by Lorisia MacLeod for a discussion of how citing oral knowledge as personal communication is simply not enough.)
  4. Too often, when students fail to follow the conventions of a particular citing and referencing style, they are punished or reported for plagiarism. Research has shown over, and over, and over again that many cases of student plagiarism are not intentional or deceitful, but instead they are due to a lack of skills and knowledge.
  5. The minutiae of citing and referencing standards are weaponized against students (and everyone else who uses them, for that matter). Those who know how to wield the finer details of citing and referencing are lauded as erudite scholars. Those who do not are mocked, dismissed, or accused of misconduct. (Honestly, who gives a flying leap about sentence case versus title case capitalization? Can we do away with these nonsensical details, once and for all, please?!)

These are just a few of the truths about citing and referencing that we need to confront. As an academic integrity scholar and advocate, part of my job involves not only upholding the rules, but questioning the systems that created them. The deeper I dive into this world, the more I realize that much of what gets labelled as “academic integrity” actually has little to do with ethics, and more to do with behaviour control, oppression, and even corporate profit. There’s a lot of work we need to do to put the integrity back into “academic integrity”.

Reconciliation

Once we have told the truth, we can start to work on reconciliation. Here are a few things we can think about as we move along the path to reconciliation:

  1. Learn from (and cite) Indigenous authors and knowledge keepers. As part of my own journey towards reconciliation, I am making a point to educate myself about Indigenous ways of knowing, being, teaching, and learning. I have a lot to learn, and the journey is worthwhile. In addition to learning, I make an effort to give attribution to those from whom I have learned.
  2. Educate ourselves about how to give attribution to Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. A great place to start is by reading Elements of Indigenous Style by Gregory Younging. From there, check out MacLeod’s Templates for Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
  3. Stop weaponizing citation and referencing. These systems should be used to give attribution to the creators and keepers of knowledge, not to punish people for failing to comply with rules. Focus on giving attribution as a way to honour and show respect, not as a means to inflict punishment. Giving attribution to others should be a joy, not an afterthought, a drudgery, or a cause for punishment or anxiety.
  4. Re-consider citing and referencing systems in general. These systems embody colonialism in education and scholarship, focusing on rule compliance, rather than actual learning. It is time to have deep and provocative conversations about the ways citing and referencing systems propagate colonialism, oppression, and elitism in education and publishing. Elsewhere I have called for a universal citation system that is easy and free to use and that is accepted by educational institutions and publishers.
  5. Take an educative and supportive approach, rather than punitive to academic integrity. The “Gotcha!” approach doesn’t help students learn.
  6. Think about attribution in relational ways. As I have discussed in my book on plagiarism, my own PhD supervisor taught me to think about the people who write books and articles, situating myself in relation to their work and words. He taught me to pay attention to who was writing as much as what they were writing.

There are many conversations we need to have about decolonizing education. Recognizing the harms inflicted by colonial education systems is essential. Oppressive systems have become a pervasive hallmark of education. We need to recognize the ways in which vestiges of colonialism permeate all aspects of our educational systems, including academic integrity, citing, and referencing. As part of our work to decolonize education, let’s not forget about how to decolonize our approaches to academic and research integrity (and misconduct). It’s time to ditch the “crime and punishment” approach to misconduct and instead focus on relational, reconciliatory, and restorative approaches to building integrity with one another and the systems in which we live and work.

References and further reading from Indigenous authors

Gladue, K. (2021). Indigenous Academic Integrity. Retrieved from https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/resources/indigenous-academic-integrity

MacLeod, L. (2021). More than personal communication: Templates For citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. KULA, 5(1), 1-5. https://doi.org/10.18357/kula.135

Poitras Pratt, Y., & Gladue, K. (forthcoming). Re-defining academic integrity: Embracing Indigenous truths. In S. E. Eaton & J. Christensen Hughes (Eds.), Academic integrity in Canada: An enduring and essential challenge: Springer.

Lindstrom, G. (forthcoming). Accountability, relationality and Indigenous epistemology: Advancing an Indigenous perspective on academic integrity. In S. E. Eaton & J. Christensen Hughes (Eds.), Academic integrity in Canada: An enduring and essential challenge: Springer.

Younging, G. (2018). Elements of Indigenous style: A guide for writing by and about Indigenous Peoples. Edmonton, AB: Brush Education Inc.

References and further reading from non-Indigenous authors

Eaton, S. E. (2021). Plagiarism in higher education: Tackling tough topics in academic integrity. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Howard, R. M. (2001). Forget about policing plagiarism. Just teach. The Chronicle of Higher Education, B24. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Forget-About-Policing/2792

McGowan, U. (2005). Academic integrity: An awareness and development issue for students. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 2(3a), 48-57. Retrieved from http://jutlp.uow.edu.au/2005_v02_i03a/pdf/mcgowan_005.pdf

Schwabl, K., Rossiter, M. J., & Abbott, M. L. (2013). University students’ and instructors’ paraphrasing and citation knowledge and practices. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 59(3). Retrieved from https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/ajer/article/view/55730

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Share or Tweet this: Indigenous Academic Integrity: A Post in Honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2021/09/30/indigenous-academic-integrity-a-post-in-honour-of-the-national-day-for-truth-and-reconciliation/

This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.


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