CSSHE 2020 Award for Research and Scholarship

June 2, 2020

2020 CSSHE Awards

There are moments that mark a career. Today was one of those moments. At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE), the society conferred their 2020 Research and Scholarship Award on me.

I am excited by this for three reasons:

  1. It recognizes and celebrates academic integrity as a field of research that is important in Canadian higher education. This energizes me a lot! I have heard over and over and over again that academic integrity is not research field, even though there are journals and conferences dedicated to it and there is quite an active research community outside Canada. Awards such as this recognize the importance of researching this area.
  2. I get to follow in the footsteps of a selected few researchers who have won awards for their work on academic integrity, most notably, Julia Christensen Hughes, who together with the late Don McCabe, won the Canadian Journal of Higher Education (CJHE) Sheffield Award for their 2006 seminal article Academic Misconduct within Higher Education in Canada.
  3. Although I have been a member of CSSHE for a few years and have presented at their conferences, I am just a regular member of the society. The award was conferred by my scholarly peers, but not my “cronies”. In fact, there were some members of the executive I met today for the first time. Unlike some societies where members of the adjudication committee give awards to their friends or their own students, the society based their selection on the quality of my research portfolio. To me, this speaks volumes about the integrity of the award and the internal ethics of the organization.

This was a particularly meaningful year to receive this award, as the society celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. I am truly grateful for this award and I look forward to living up to its reputation.

Hearty congratulations to the recipients of the other awards conferred this year, too. I have included a screen shot of the slide presented at the AGAM today showing the names of all of the award recipients.

Thank you, CSSHE!

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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.


How to Deal with Contract Cheating: A Collection of Resources

June 1, 2020

I have been getting a lot more requests lately about how to determine if a student has outsourced their academic work. I am noticing a need for more practical hands-on tools, particularly for educators who work at institutions that do not have an academic integrity office or staff with roles dedicated to academic misconduct investigations. Here are some of my favourite free, open-access resources to help educators and administrators:

  1. Bretag, T., & Harper, R. (n.d.). Impossible to prove? Substantiating contract cheating. Retrieved from https://cheatingandassessment.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/EDUCATOR-RESOURCE-Substantiating-contract-cheating.pdf
  2. Eaton, S. E. (2019). U Have Integrity: Educator Resource – How to Lead a Discovery Interview About Contract Cheating. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/111077
  3. Ellis, C. (2015). Know the signs of contract cheating (Fact sheet). Retrieved from http://www.apfei.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Contract-Cheating-Factsheet-UNSW-2015.pdf
  4. UC San Diego. (n.d.). Detecting Contract Cheating in Narrative Assessments. Retrieved from https://academicintegrity.ucsd.edu/_files/Detecting%20Contract%20Cheating.pdf
  5. University of New South Wales. (n.d.). Have you contact cheated? Retrieved from https://www.arc.unsw.edu.au/uploads/Yellow%20poster_v2.pdf

I hope you find these helpful. It is important to have practical tools to be able to identify if a third party has completed work on the student’s behalf. I will update this post with more tool as I find them, review them and then assess their quality and utility, as I have done with all of the resources included in this post.

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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.


Canadian Schools Have Been Preparing for a Pandemic for Years

May 26, 2020

The media makes it seem like schools and teachers around the world have been scrambling to ensure teaching and learning continuity for students. Meanwhile, in Canada, school district administrators, principals and teachers, went into their archives to find the plans that were developed for just such an emergency. You see, way back in 2003 Canada was hit hard by SARS. We learned a great deal from it and somewhere in our collective psyche, we knew it wasn’t going to be the only pandemic. As a result, school districts and boards across Canada began asking themselves, how do we prepare for a pandemic? No one had any clear answers, but they developed plans, just in case. Here are a sampling of just a few of these pandemic planning guides produced across Canada, many of them from school districts or boards. I have included the year of publication, so you can see how far back we have been publishing guidance for school administrators and teachers about how to prepare for a pandemic — These guides date back to 2005 and there were more I could not retrieve because the websites are now defunct.

All the documents I’ve shared in this post had live links to the plans at the time I wrote this post.

British Columbia

Pandemic Response Framework: and Pandemic Planning Guidelines for School Districts, British Columbia Ministry of Education (2009)

Pandemic Response Plan, School District No. 78 (Fraser-Cascade), British Columbia (BC) – 2009 

British Columbia Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan: Guidelines for Planning, Response and Recovery (2005)

Alberta

Pandemic Response Plan – Horizon School Division (2009)

Saskatchewan

A Guide for School Board Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (2015)

Manitoba

Pandemic Influenza: Preparedness Guidelines for Manitoba School Divisions and Schools (K-12) (2007)

Ontario

Pandemic Action Plan, Northwest Catholic District School Board (2009)

Renfrew County & District Pandemic Influenza Plan: A Planning Guide for Housing, Residential and Social Service Providers (2006)

Toronto Pandemic Influenza Plan: Appendix 1.2 — A Planning Guide for Schools (2007)

Atlantic Canada

Two educators from Nova Scotia, Howard & Howard (2012) published a great article on elementary school teachers’ experience with H1N1.

Canada’s doctors published years ago about how to ensure Canada’s children were safe during a pandemic (see Langley, 2006).

And Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam? Well, she has been leading research teams on publications about pandemics in Canada since 2005, too.

So don’t believe the hype. In true Canadian style, we have been quietly and modestly preparing for this for years… So, when Canadian schools and universities make decisions about what they’re going to do for the fall 2020 semester and beyond, trust us when we say that we may not have all the answers, but we sure have been thinking about all this for a long time.

Related posts:

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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.


Let’s Talk About the Other Pandemic: Academic Cheating

May 17, 2020

Since the shift to remote emergency teaching and learning as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been story after story in the news about students violating academic integrity.

It’s time we talked about it. Let’s talk about the associate head of school at a New York city upper west side private schools who allegedly tampered with high school admissions tests by (allegedly) providing unsolicited answers to students to help improve their scores.

Let’s talk about how the “unidentified party” who posted fake answers to the Advance Placement (AP) test on Reddit and other social media to lure cheaters taking. It has been reported that the body who administers the test, the US College Admissions board, would not comment on how a “ring of students who were developing plans to cheat” were identified. But someone planted fake answers on social media for students to find. Then that “someone” used those fake answers to identify alleged cheaters.

Let’s talk about the other incidents of individual college professors allegedly posting fake answers to assignments on social media in order to identify students who cheat. Let’s be clear, if this is really happening and it is not some mutated urban myth in which educators are evil masterminds, these would be pretty clear cases of entrapment.

Let’s talk about the professors who allegedly post messages directed to their own students on social media outlining how they’re tracking students’ every move, from their social media posts to their IP addresses during exams. If this is really  happening, then that would be awful. I mean, it would be surveillance to levels that even Orwell didn’t dream up. It might even be considered intimidation, or harassment, or even bullying of students.

Let’s talk about how none of this actually helps students, who are also living through this pandemic along with the rest of us. Let’s talk about how students are reporting they are so stressed out by the conditions under which they are learning and taking exams, that they are throwing up, due to anxiety related to the crisis conditions in which they too, are living. Yes, students. They are trying to complete their academic work in the middle of a global crisis.

I acknowledge there are many caring and dedicated educators who are working hard to support students’ learning, but the increasing number of examples of unethical behaviour among instructors and administrators during the Coronavirus pandemic is not only worrisome, it is downright disturbing. Those educators and administrators who believe that entrapment or other unethical behaviour is “fighting fire with fire” when it comes to academic conduct have forgotten this basic lesson: Two wrongs don’t make it right.

If we are going to ask students to uphold academic integrity, then for the sake of all that is holy, teachers, administrators and learning organizations must lead by example. Educators and administrators who focus on cheating, rather than learning, may not have students’ best interests at heart.

It’s time to start talking about instructional integrity, administrative integrity, and institutional integrity.

A symptom of the academic cheating pandemic is not that students are cheating more, it is that we, those who are responsible for supporting their learning and development, are letting them down. We must keep the focus on helping students to learn. We need to work with our students, not against them.

In the game of “Gotcha!” no one wins.

Related posts:

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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.


E-Proctoring: Understanding the debate about invigilating remote exams

May 12, 2020

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about the rush for secondary and post-secondary institutions to implement digital solutions for proctoring of remote and online exams. In this post, I share helpful resources, articles and news to help you better understand the current debate about what’s good, what’s bad and what’s ugly. This post is not meant to be exhaustive, but instead to curate and share some of the key resources I have found particularly helpful.

Back to the future

Interestingly, the debate is not entirely new. In 2018, Rory McCorkle predicted more students would be taking exams remotely in the future. Welcome to 2020, where the Coronavirus has changed everything.

Students stressed out

Math students at Laurier University were described as furious after their department required them to buy external web cams for their exams. Rebecca Heilweil shares the perspective of University of Washington student, Marium Raza, who shared concerns about the lack of transparency about how their recorded video will be used or who will see it. The heightened use of surveillance to monitor students’ every move is a recurring theme in these stories.

Faculty disgruntled

Faculty are also concerned about surveillance and an invasion of students’ privacy. References to George Orwell’s 1984 have been made in more than one news article, such as this one by Colleen Flaherty in Inside Higher Ed, and this one by Shawn Hubler in the New York Times.

Michael Sankey of Griffith University has described the rapid move to e-exams as driving headlong towards a cliff.

Human rights considerations

An article in the Washington Post describes how some students get so stressed out by the heightened surveillance of remote proctoring that they throw up into their waste bins while on camera because they have been told they cannot leave the room during the exam. (This begs the question: Is there a human rights violation here? I mean, shouldn’t students be allowed to vomit into a toilet?)

Concordia University has included guidance in their rollout of e-proctoring that: “Any proctored online exam that goes beyond two hours may include a break for students.” They are basically sending a message to faculty to have exams of a reasonable and humane duration, which is a good place to start.

Glitches in the matrix

A recent news story out of Australia detailed how over 250 candidates taking a TAXAU120 required special consideration after their remote exam provider, ProctorU reported that they experienced “a momentary connectivity issue”, leading to them being disconnected from their exam.

Resources: Webinar Recordings

A couple of publicly accessible webinar recordings you might find useful are:

Academic Integrity in Online Exams – This session was presented by Tod Denham and the team at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Open Learning did for us at the University of Calgary.

Implementing remotely invigilated online exams at scale, presented by Kylie Day as part of the  Transforming Assessment Webinar Series is also worth a watch.

Additional Resources

E-CampusOntario – ProctorTrack Instructor Support Guide (open access pressbook)

Fourteen Simple Strategies to Reduce Cheating on Online Examinations – Excellent article by Stephanie Smith Budhai

What the research says

For those interested in scholarly perspectives on the topic, a couple of journal articles worth looking up include:

Cramp et al. (2019) – Lessons learned from implementing remotely invigilated online exams.

González-González et al. (2020) – Implementation of E-Proctoring in Online Teaching: A Study about Motivational Factors

I will update this post as I collect and curate more information that I think will be helpful to educators and administrators as we learn more about this brave new world of remote learning during COVID-19. (All literary and cultural references to sci fi and dystopian future(s) are most definitely intentional).

Related posts:

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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, 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.


The Ed Podcast: Do the Right Thing

May 1, 2020

edlogo_smA while ago I had the chance to talk with Shane, creator and producer of The Ed Podcast. In an episode he’s titled, “Do the Right Thing“, we talk about academic integrity, contract cheating and what educators need to know.

We recorded the episode, pre-COVID, after Shane heard about the cheating incident at the University of Alberta, involving 40 computer science students.

You can find the Ed Podcast on Twitter and Instagram

You can also subscribe to the podcast by searching in your podcast app for “ed conversations”.

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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, 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.


Microsoft’s new “Rewrite” feature: A challenge to academic integrity?

April 20, 2020

Microsoft has just announced a new feature in Word: “Rewrite”. Microsoft shared details of the feature in this blog post last Friday.  The feature is designed to provide “sentence-level suggestions” to help users improve their writing. Microsoft reports that, “This feature is powered by cutting-edge, neural-network, machine learning models, which are trained on millions of sentences.” Zhang Li of Microsoft writes that the new feature:

Improves fluency: These suggestions aim to improve the flow of the wording, including mechanics like grammar and spelling.

Concise phrasing: The goal of these suggestions is to express an idea clearly, without extra words.
Paraphrased sentence: These suggestions offer synonyms for alternative wording.

Improves readability: The goal of these suggestions is to make the writing easier to read for people with different reading abilities. In general, suggestions will include shorter, simpler wording.”

Reading through the blog post comments, users are anticipating this will replace services such as Grammarly. People in the tech world are already calling it a “game changer”.

From an academic integrity perspective, it certainly could change the game. Drastically. Scholars such as Ann Rogerson and Grace McCarthy started publishing articles about the impact of paraphrasing software a few years ago. Their article “Using Internet based paraphrasing tools: Original work, patchwriting or facilitated plagiarism” prompts us to consider how paraphrasing software impacts our notion of writing, plagiarism and “originality”.

Microsoft reports that the new feature is currently only available in English and requires a subscription to Microsoft Office 365.

My prediction is that this new feature will change writing as much as spell check has, but in ways that are infinitely more complex. Spell check offers suggestions on individual words. Grammar check highlights possible grammar errors. A feature designed to re-write entire sentences has the potential to shift writing in significant new ways.

This may challenge our notions of “original writing” in ways we cannot yet predict. Educators and administrators will have to figure out how, if at all, this will impact our understanding of plagiarism, authorship and originality. Only time will if assisted and augmented writing will become the new normal.

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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, 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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