Academic Integrity: Resource for Teaching Assistants

September 16, 2019

JPEG - U Have Integrity Resource for TAs.jpgAs a Teaching Assistant (TA) it can be tricky to know what your responsibilities are if you suspect or observe academic misconduct. This resource is intended to help both TAs and course instructors about the roles and responsibilities teaching assistants play in upholding academic integrity at the University of Calgary.

Teaching assistants are responsible for acting with integrity, maintaining the privacy of all parties involved and reporting any suspected or actual cases of academic misconduct to the course instructor. TAs are not responsible for confronting student(s) who may be allegedly responsible for academic misconduct and nor are they responsible for imposing sanctions (discipline). It is the responsibility of the course instructor to follow the guidelines established by their faculty for responding to allegations of academic misconduct.

Open communication between course instructors and teaching assistants is key. Establishing expectations early in the term, before issues might arise can be very helpful for teaching assistants.

It is important for teaching assistants to know they are not alone when it comes to upholding academic integrity.

This one-page tip sheet is intended as a suggested guideline to help teaching assistants figure out what to do if they encounter or suspect a breach of academic integrity. This handout is not exhaustive and it may not cover all situations. This resource was developed specifically for teaching assistants at the University of Calgary and may not apply to TAs at other institutions.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton 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.

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Alberta’s MacKinnon Report: Academic Integrity Implications?

September 5, 2019

Cover - MacKinnon report 2019When I reviewed my Twitter feed this morning, I saw comments and questions about how recommendations in a recently-released report from the Alberta government might impact academic integrity in our province. The document is the “Report and recommendations: Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances“. It was released by the Treasury Board and Finance branch of the Alberta government on September 3, 2019.

Naturally, when I saw the chatter on social media, my immediate reaction was concern. I looked at some of the news stories that had been released on the report over the past few days and my concern escalated into alarm. But before engaging in the social media debate, I opted first to consult the original report myself. After all, since I blog about the importance of consulting original sources, I thought it only fair to find and read the document before offering my commentary.

I reviewed the report this morning over two rather large mugs of coffee. I focused my attention on what the report said about education, casting a particular lens on the implications for academic integrity.

The report presents an overview of recommendations for K-12 education and advanced education:

On Education: The Panel recommends that the government should:

Recommendation 5: Work with education stakeholders to decrease the percentage of government funding that goes to administration and governance (currently 24 .6%) to a level comparable to British Columbia (17%).

Recommendation 6: Completely review and revise the current education funding formula to ensure enrolment growth is addressed and to provide incentives for sharing services and achieving better education outcomes for students.

On Advanced Education: The Panel recommends that the government should:

Recommendation 7: Consult with post-secondary stakeholders to set an overall future direction and goals for the post-secondary system along with appropriate governance models.

Recommendation 8: Work with post-secondary stakeholders to achieve a revenue mix comparable to that in British Columbia and Ontario, including less reliance on government grants, more funding from tuition and alternative revenue sources, and more entrepreneurial approaches to how programs are financed and delivered. This includes lifting the current freeze on tuition fees.

Recommendation 9: Assess the financial viability of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions. The government should move quickly to address the future of those post-secondary institutions that do not appear to be viable in future funding scenarios. (p. 6-7)

More details are provided on pages 33-38 for K-12 education and pages 39-43 for advanced education. As I read through the details of the report, I would say it seems clear that deep cuts to education funding seem imminent, including cuts to educators’ salaries.

With regards to K-12 education the report states, “A number of school boards that have very high to high expenses per student have student achievement outcomes that are below 50%” (p. 36). The report seems to indicate that a shift from a funding model that would fund schools based on enrolment numbers alone might shift to one based on “outcomes achieved” (p. 37). The report does not explicitly say this would be a pay-for-performance model. Nor does it elaborate on what these “outcomes” might look like.

The objection that has arisen in the media seems to centre around Recommendation #6 which talks about “achieving better outcomes for students”. I find the high-level language vague and leaves much open to interpretation.

When I turned my attention to the section on Advanced Education, I found this point jumped out at me:

Not all Alberta’s post-secondary institutions are successful at getting students to complete their studies and graduate over a seven-year period subsequent to beginning their course of study . Nine of twenty-six institutions fell below an average completion rate of 60% and one institution had a completion rate of 40%. (p. 40)

This would seem to indicate that we might expect a more intense focus on students completing their programs as a measure of success. If anything, I might be concerned that program quality or standards might end up being lowered in advanced education programs to ensure more students complete their programs, but I am speculating.

There are other aspects of the report that I found interesting (even concerning), but I will refrain from commenting on those, because I examined the report specifically through the lens of academic integrity.

In short, I think we need to pay attention. Funding cuts to education seem imminent. From what I read, it would seem that our government will put a more intense focus on institutional and student outcomes and achievement, but how that will unfold is unclear. In terms of the potential impact of all this on academic integrity, I was unable to draw informed conclusions at this point.

Let me be clear though, that I unequivocally support a commitment to student learning — and students having opportunities to learn — no matter where they live, how much money they (or their parents) have, or what their age is. Those are my values as an educator, a researcher and a human being, so naturally, I will be keeping an eye on this. I am interested to know how the report is interpreted and used as a tool for the government to make decisions. I believe the content of this report, as it relates to education, will no doubt impact students, parents, educators, educational researchers and administrators at every level.

I would encourage all Albertans, and educators in particular, to read the original report. Fill up your coffee cup (twice if you need to) and dig into it. There are places we can read between the lines, speculate and surmise. At the very least, the report seems to provide the government with a clear mandate to cut costs to the public sector, including education, but don’t believe me (or the media). Read the report for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Reference:

MacKinnon, J., & Percy, M. (2019, September 3). Report and recommendations: Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances. Edmonton: Treasury Board and Finance, Government of Alberta. Retrieved from https://open.alberta.ca/publications/report-and-recommendations-blue-ribbon-panel-on-alberta-s-finances

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


The foundations of scholarship: Original sources

September 3, 2019

Bowers 1964-sm.jpgI am always telling my students to find and cite the original sources rather than relying on secondary sources. In the work I do on academic misconduct, the work of William Bowers is often cited as a seminal study in the field. The problem is that Bowers’s original work is hard to get your hands on. I was able to find a copy of his 1966 doctoral dissertation, but the original 1964 book seemed almost impossible to find. The two sources have exactly the same title. Although both texts are based on the same content, it is presented in different ways in both texts.

I can say this because I’ve now read both sources in their entirety.

Thanks to our amazing librarians at the University of Calgary, who were able to track down a copy of Bowers’s original 1964 work. Through the inter-library loan system, they were able to request the book from another library (thanks, University of Waterloo!) and have it sent to the university where I work so I could read it.

It is a beautiful volume, obviously produced on a typewriter with painstaking detail. This work was a true labour of love. I so appreciate having the opportunity to read it for myself. I now understand Bowers’s work much better. (I purposely do not offer a synopsis of his work in this blog post, so as to encourage others to go read the original works themselves, rather than relying on someone else’s summary!) Although more updated studies have been published since then, this nevertheless remains an important foundational book in my field. I am delighted to have had the privilege to read it.

I encourage anyone who wants to undertake deep scholarship in a particular field to find the original works upon which the field was built. If you can’t find the books, ask your friendly neighbourhood librarian for help. You might be surprised how they can help you be a better scholar.

References:

Bowers, W. J. (1964). Student dishonesty and its control in college. New York: NY: Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University.

Bowers, W. J. (1966). Student dishonesty and its control in college. (Doctor of Philosophy). Columbia University, New York.

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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 is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


7th Ed. APA Manual – An Academic Integrity Response

August 9, 2019

APA 7th cover.jpgLike many others, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (affectionally known by millions as the APA Manual). I was thrilled to read the press release saying its launch has been scheduled for October 2019. Then it occurred to me that this may be problematic from an academic integrity perspective. It is important for educators and institutions to take a supportive, ethical, and instructive approach to the adoption of the latest edition of the manual. Here are some ways to do that:

Recommendations for Instructors

  1. Talk to your students about the release of the 7th edition. This is an excellent reason to review citing and referencing expectations with students.
  2. Talk to administrators about what is expected of you with regards to when and how to adopt the 7th edition of the manual. It may make more sense to start and finish the term with consistent use of the same edition of the manual and transition to a new manual at the start of a new term.

Recommendations for Institutions

  1. Develop and deliver campus-wide training programs on the differences between the 6th and 7th editions of the manual. Students, faculty and others will need explicit and supportive instruction on what’s new and how to adapt to the norms of the new edition.
  2. Develop a systematic plan for campus-wide adoption of the 7th edition. Neither instructional staff nor students should be expected to buy a new manual and adopt it during the middle of a term. This could result in both a financial burden and unnecessary stress for everyone involved. It should be OK to stick with the 6th edition of the manual for the fall term (or the spring 2019 semester for the southern hemisphere), so everyone is using the same version consistently in courses. There can (and should) be a period of transition while students and others can learn the details of the latest version in time for start of the next term. There should be clear communication to students about when they are expected to fully adopt the 7th edition, and it should not be in the middle of term.
  3. Develop a unified and supportive institutional stance towards ethical adoption of the latest edition, casting a particular lens to academic integrity breaches and policy. It is imperative that students not be penalized for academic misconduct for failing follow 7th edition in the fall 2019 semester. (This includes not being penalized for having two spaces after a period!) It is important to give students, educators, administrators and others time to learn the new conventions that with come with the latest edition.

This is an exciting time for everyone whose work intersects with the APA manual in a variety of ways, including citing, referencing and academic writing. It is important to create supportive and planned approaches to adoption of the new edition in ways that emphasize teaching, learning and the development of research and writing skills.

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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 is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


Multilingual essay mills – New article

August 6, 2019

Notos coverMy colleague, Roswita Dressler and I have just had a new paper published. It all started when I was at an academic integrity conference a couple of years back. I was sitting next to a colleague who works in a language other than English (LOTE). The colleague suggested that contract cheating (e.g. essay mills and other forms of outsourced academic work) was a problem of the English-speaking world, asserting that there simply wouldn’t be enough of a market in other languages.

I thought to myself, “Challenge accepted!” I recruited Roswita Dressler to help me undertake a small-scale pilot study. We both have a background in language teaching and between us, we have some level of proficiency in about four languages. We were also curious about the market for academic outsourcing for younger audiences, in elementary, middle and high school.

 

The questions that guided our project were:

  1. What evidence exists that online providers offer academic work in languages other than English?
  2. To what degree are K-12 students targeted by these online providers?

We framed our study specifically within the Canadian context.

Our results showed that not only do commercial contract cheating companies market to specifically to students in Canada, they target children as young as Grade six (approximately 11-12 years old). And yes, we found strong evidence that contract cheating happens in languages other than English (ten of them, in fact).

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study on contract cheating published in Canada.

The Alberta Teachers Association is the publisher and copyright holder of this article. They have given us permission to post the article in our university’s digital repository. You can access a copy of it free of charge from here:

Eaton, S. E., & Dressler, R. (2019). Multilingual essay mills: Implications for second language teaching and learning. Notos, 14(2), 4-14. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/110695

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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 is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


Language Learning and Technology (EDER 669.73): Summer 2019 course

July 2, 2019

Couse banner 2019-07I am excited to be teaching one of my favourite courses this summer: Language Learning and Technology (EDER 669.73). This is a fully online course for students registered in the Master of Education (MEd) program at the Werklund School of Education.

Course Description:

This course has been designed for students who want to learn how to effectively incorporate technology in their present and future careers as language teachers. The course will cover both theoretical and practical issues in teaching second language and the use of new technology to support and enhance the learning process.

A special emphasis will be on combining both face-to-face and the use of technologies in and beyond the classroom walls to enhance the second language learning process. Although the course may address the different types technologies such as Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., blogs, wikis; audio and video podcasting; online videos; mobile tools); mobile technology (e.g., mobile phones; MP3 players; digital cameras; camcorders), and other type of interactive technologies, the focus of the course is on the pedagogical and practical aspects of integrating new technology to face-to-face language teaching.

The course is open to second language present and future teachers at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary level. The course also invites language teachers with limited knowledge of the target language to learn how to enhance their language teaching by integrating blended teaching into their practice.

Learner Outcomes:

The intent of this course is to explore the integration of technology to enhance language learning, particularly in in blended or distance environments.

Specific objectives include:

  • understand different learning theories informing pedagogical practices, and in particular the TPACK and SAMR models, as they apply to language learning;
  • review current research on the learning of additional languages enhanced by digital technologies;
  • explore digital mediated communication methods that can be used effectively in distance and blended language learning programs;
  • examine current and emerging trends in educational technology as they apply to language learning; and
  • design and evaluate language-learning modules integrating digital technology for online or blended environments.

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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 is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


Seeking early-stage feedback about proposed MEd Certificate in Academic Integrity

June 21, 2019

Note: This is an early-stage concept draft intended for sharing for developmental feedback.

Direct questions about this proposal to Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton – seaton (at) ucalgary.ca.

Background

The MEd certificate in Academic Integrity is an opportunity for those interested in this topic to develop as scholars of the profession in a learning community of like-minded students. Situated within the Leadership specialization, students will explore academic integrity through a leadership, policy and governance lens, while also developing an evidence-informed approach to the pragmatic aspects of academic integrity such as case management. Students will examine their personal and professional notions of academic integrity, as situated concepts within institutional and systemic contexts, deepening their understanding of how professional practice related to academic integrity is nested within institutional policies and procedures and how these are related to quality assurance from a systemic perspective, such as ministries of education and/or higher education.

MEd Certificate

The MEd (Master of Education) is a course-based pathway which provides students with a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice in two topic areas, plus additional research methods courses.

Each certificate is based on a topic area comprised for four (4) courses. The MEd Certificate is a pathway to a Master of Education (MEd), Interdisciplinary route, but a graduate level certificate is awarded upon the successful completion of a 4-course certificate, so even if participants choose only to undertake the 4-course topic, they can still be awarded a graduate-level certificate.

Learning Goals and Expected Outcomes

There are three overarching learning goals of this proposed certificate:

  1. This certificate will increase awareness of the role of academic integrity in educational contexts.
  2. It will assist those who have academic integrity as a component of their professional portfolio in furthering discussion and learning about integrity, ethical decision-making, case management and policy.
  3. It will assist current and future educational leaders to envision and develop a personal theory of integrity that enhances the learning experiences of students, while remaining cognizant of institutional policies and procedures, as well as larger systemic realities.

The four (4) courses for this certificate will be developed in consultation with internal and external stakeholders.

Possible formats

Option 1: Completely online format – All four (4) courses offered online using asynchronous (D2L) and synchronous (Zoom) learning technologies. Students could be physically located anywhere in the world and would not be required to come to the University of Calgary for any component of the certificate.

Option 2: Blended – Two (2) courses offered on-campus during an intensive two-week residency in July. This would require students to physically be in Calgary during the mandatory two-week residency. The residency would be followed by two (2) additional courses offered online in the subsequent fall and winter terms.

Anticipated timeline

We do not have an exact timeline for the launch of this program yet, as it would need to receive approval at a number of levels. However, given the amount of interest and support we have at this early stage, it is reasonable to anticipate that it may be available by September 2020.

Feedback Questions

At this point, we are seeking feedback from various stakeholders on these particular points:

  1. Which of the two possible formats (online or blended) is most appealing? Why?
  2. What are some key topics or courses you would like to see included in this program? Why?
  3. What resources (books, articles, etc.) do you see as being foundational for courses offered in this certificate?

For questions about this proposal or to add your name to the mailing list contact:

Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, seaton (at) ucalgary.ca

Further information about the Master of Education: https://werklund.ucalgary.ca/gpe/med-interdisciplinary

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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 is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


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