Upcoming Webinar: None of the above: Integrity concerns of standardized English proficiency tests with Soroush Sabbaghan and Ismaeil Fazel

January 4, 2021

Sabbaghan Fazel webinarThis session will bring to fore (or highlight) the oft-neglected discord between equity and integrity in high-stakes standardized language tests. The equity issues surrounding these so-called standardized language tests can potentially precipitate and predispose academic dishonesty. This presentation will discuss the ramifications of inherent inequities in high stakes language proficiency tests for academic integrity and will call for a more critical consideration of commercialized high stakes language tests. Redressing equity issues in language assessment can serve to promote academic integrity and reduce academic dishonesty.

Learning outcomes

  • Learn more about challenges to equity in high stakes language testing.
  • Recognize discords between equity and integrity in commercial standardized language tests
  • Review principles and best practices for equitable language assessment

About the presenters

Ismaeil Fazel - web sizeIsmaeil Fazel is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Education of Simon Fraser University. He has a PhD in TESL and a sub-specialization in Measurement and Evaluation from the University of British Columbia. His main research interests include English for Academic and Professional Purposes, academic discourse socialization, and language assessment. His publications have appeared in the Journal of English for Academic Purposes, English for Specific Purposes Journal, and TESL Canada Journal, among others.

Soroush Sabbaghan - web sizeSoroush Sabbaghan is a Senior Instructor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. He holds two PhDs, one in TESL and the other in Curriculum and Learning with a focus in Mathematics Education. His main research interests include language and mathematics education of bilingual and multilinguals, Language Learning and Technology, and ecological complexity discourses. He has publications in both Language and mathematics education journals and books.

Friday, 08 January 2021

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Calgary (Mountain) time

This session is open to the public and everyone is welcome. Registration required. Deadline to register is 07 Jan 2021.

More information and registration:

https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/series-and-events/academic-integrity-urgent-emerging-topics

This webinar is part of our series, Academic Integrity: Urgent and Emerging Topics. This series addresses timely and emergent topics that are cutting edge, provocative or high profile in nature. The series is hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary.

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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.


New article: Understanding the academic integrity policies of publicly funded universities in western Canada

December 23, 2020

Educational PolicyThe latest article in our project, Contract Cheating in Canada: National Policy Analysis has just been published!

Stoesz, B., & Eaton, S. E. (2020). Understanding the academic integrity policies of publicly funded universities in western Canada. Educational Policy. https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904820983032

Abstract

We examined 45 academic integrity policy documents from 24 publicly-funded universities in Canada’s four western provinces using a qualitative research design. We extracted data related to 5 core elements of exemplary academic integrity policy (i.e., access, detail, responsibility, approach, support). Most documents pointed to punitive approaches for academic misconduct and were based on the notion that academic misconduct results from a lack of morals. One university used the term “contract cheating,” although nearly all categorized the outsourcing of academic work as plagiarism. Details about educational resources and supports to increase student and staff understanding of academic integrity and prevention of academic misconduct were sparse. This study signals the continuing punitive nature of academic integrity policies in western Canadian universities, the reluctance to address contract cheating directly, and the need to revise policies with deeper consideration of educative approaches to academic integrity that support students and academic staff.

Keywords: academic integrity, Canada, contract cheating, educational supports, higher education, policy

This is an open access article and is free to read and download.

For more information about this article, or the national project, please contact me directly.

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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.


Webinar: Contract Cheating and Cryptocurrency with Dr. Joel Reardon

November 12, 2020
man creating a presentation on laptop

Photo by Canva Studio on Pexels.com

Join Dr. Joel Reardon for insights into the role cryptocurrency plays in the outsourcing of academic work, also known as contract cheating, which is s serious breach of academic integrity. Learn what cryptocurrency is, how it works and how it can be used to purchase assignments, theses and other academic work.

Presenter: Dr. Joel Reardon, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary.  Check out Dr. Reardon’s faculty profile.

Learning Objectives

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

  • Describe what cryptocurrency is.
  • Understand how cryptocurrency functions.
  • Understand the connection between cryptocurrency and contract cheating.

This session is part of the webinar series, “Academic Integrity: Urgent and Emerging Topics”, hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. The series is convened by Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton, Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity.

Webinar date: Friday, 11 December, 2020

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time. Please convert to your own local time zone.

Registration Info

Register here. (Hint: Look for Course #TI0747-004 near the bottom of the page).

Deadline to register: 9 December 2020.

The session will be recorded and a link to the recording will be shared with registered participants. Even if you cannot make the webinar in live format, please register in order to receive the link to the recorded version.

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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.


Comparing E-Proctoring Software to Hydroxychloroquine: An Apt Analogy

November 4, 2020
Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To help educators and administrators understand why I urge caution, and even skepticism about the use of e-proctoring software and other surveillance technologies such as those that lockdown students’ Internet browsers, here’s an analogy I have been using that seems to resonate:

In my opinion, e-proctoring software is to higher education what Hydroxycloroquine has been to the COVID-19 virus.

It’s not that e-proctoring software is bad, it is that it was never designed to be used under the current conditions. There are colleagues who would disagree with me about this kind of software being bad in principle. I accept their position. Let’s look at this through the eyes of scholar who is trained to reserve judgement on an issue without evidence to back it up. If we assume the software was designed for a specific purpose – to invigilate exams taken via a computer, then it fulfills that purpose. So, in that sense, it does what it is supposed to do. However, that is not the whole story.

We can turn to Hydroxychloroquine as an analogy to help us understand why we should be skeptical.

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malaria drug, also used to treat arthritis. It was never designed to be used against the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus. Hasty attempts to do research on the coronavirus, including studies on Hydroxychloroquine, have resulted in numerous papers now being retracted from scientific journals. People ran to this drug as a possible antidote the coronavirus, just as schools are running to e-proctoring software as an antidote for exam cheating. Neither e-proctoring software nor Hydroxychloroquine were designed to be used during the current pandemic. People flocked to them both as if they were some kind of magic pill that would solve a massively complex problem, without sufficient evidence that either would actually do what they so desperately wanted it to do.

The reality is that there is scant scientific data to show that e-proctoring actually works in the way that people want it to, that is, to provide a way of addressing academic misconduct during the pandemic. By “scientific data” I do not mean sales pitches. I am talking about independent scholarly studies undertaken by qualified academic researchers employed at reputable universities. By “independent scholarly studies” I mean research that has not been funded in any way by the companies that produce the products. That kind of research is terrifyingly lacking.

We need to back up for a minute and look about why we invigilate exams in the first place. To invigilate means “to keep watch over”. Keeping watch over students while they write an exam is part of ensuring that testing conditions are fair and objective.

The point of a test, in scientific terms, involves controlling all variables except one. In traditional testing, all other factors are controlled, including the conditions under which the test was administered such as the exam hall with desks separated, same lighting and environment for all test-takers, length of time permitted to take the test, how it is invigilated, and so on. All variables are presumably controlled except one: the student’s knowledge of the subject matter. That’s what’s being tested, the student’s knowledge.

Exams are administered in what could be termed, academically sterile environments. In an ideal situation, academic hygiene is the starting point for administering a test. Invigilation is just one aspect of ensuring academic hygiene during testing, but it is not the only factor that contributes to this kind of educational hygiene that we need to ensure testing conditions control for all possible variables except a student’s knowledge of the subject matter.

During the pandemic, with the shift to remote learning, we cannot control all the variables. We simply cannot assure an academically hygienic environment for testing. Students may have absolutely no control over who else is present in their living/studying quarters. They may have no control over a family member (including their own children) who might enter a room unannounced during a test. The conditions under which students are being tested during the pandemic are not academically hygienic. And that’s not their fault.

E-proctoring may address one aspect of exam administration: invigilation. It cannot, however, ensure that all variables are controlled.

As an academic integrity scholar, I am distressed by the lack of objective, peer-reviewed data about e-proctoring software. Schools have turned to e-proctoring software as if it were some kind of magic pill that will make academic cheating go away. We have insufficient evidence to substantiate that e-proctoring software, or any technology for that matter, can serve as a substitute for an in-person academically hygienic testing environment.

Schools that were using e-proctoring before the pandemic, such as Thompson Rivers University or Athabasca University in Canada, offered students a choice about whether students preferred to take their exams online, at home, using an e-proctoring service, or whether they preferred to drive to an in-person exam centre. During the pandemic, students’ choice has been taken away.

We all want an antidote to academic misconduct during remote learning, but I urge you educators and administrators to think like scholars and scientists. In other words, approach this “solution” with caution, and even skepticism. At present, we lack sufficient evidence to make informed decisions. Educators need to be just as skeptical about this technology and how it works during pandemic conditions as physicians and the FDA have been about using Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. Its use as being effective against the coronavirus is a myth. The use of e-proctoring software as being an effective replacement for in-person exams is also a myth, one perpetuated by the companies that sell the product.

Forcing surveillance technology on students against their will during a pandemic is tantamount to forcing an untested treatment on a patient; it is unethical to the extreme.

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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.


Public talk: “The Latest Research on Big Tech and the Cheating Industry” – November 5, 2020

November 1, 2020

CPL logo

I’m excited to be working with the Knowledge Engagement Team at the Calgary Public Library to give a talk next week on contract cheating and term paper mills.

Description

Explore the world of essay-mills, homework completion services, academic-file sharing sites and other contract cheating companies. Ads on social media are often framed as “help”, implying and promoting academic misconduct. Learn how the industry works, how they trick students into buying from them, and the consequences that can ensue.

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2020

Time: 19:00 – 20:00 (Mountain Time)

Where: Online

Register here.

Audience: This is a general interest talk is intended for the public. Everyone is welcome.

Registration is required. The link to attend will be sent to registered participants.

This talk will not be recorded, but if you can’t make it feel free to connect with me about doing a presentation for your group.

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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.


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