Alberta Council on Academic Integrity: Spring 2020 Meeting

February 18, 2020

I am excited to share that the Alberta Council on Academic Integrity is planning its spring 2020 meeting!

The council was created in 2019 following the Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity. We are comprised of a group of like-minded individuals committed to supporting academic integrity in Alberta. The council hosted its inaugural meeting in August 2019 at the University of Calgary, followed by a second meeting in October at Norquest College.

Our work is aligned with other provincial groups such as the Academic Integrity Council of Ontario (AICO), the Manitoba Academic Integrity Network (MAIN), and the BC Academic Integrity Day.

Steering Committee

There are a number of individuals committed to guiding the work of the council as it develops in its first few years. (Members listed alphabetically by institution):

  • Margaret Toye, Bow Valley College
  • Melanie (Mel) Hamilton, Lethbridge College
  • Marg Olfert, Mount Royal University
  • Nazanin Teymouri, Norquest College
  • Sheryl Boisvert, Norquest College
  • Cheryl Kier, Athabasca University
  • Sarah Elaine Eaton, University of Calgary

Lethbridge College will host the spring meeting on April 24, 2020. This will be an important meeting as we will seek approval on our council’s charter, which was presented in draft form at the fall 2019 meeting.We welcome colleagues from Alberta post-secondary institutions to join us in Lethbridge. At this point, participation is limited to those working at a recognized Alberta educational institution.

For questions about the spring meeting, contact Melanie Hamilton, Lethbridge College – melanie.hamilton (at) lethbridgecollege (dot) ca

Registration is required. Click here to register.

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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.


Workshop: Teaching for and with integrity

February 10, 2020

Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 7.18.28 AMJoin Natasha Kenny and me for this interactive and engaging workshop at the University of Calgary.

Teaching for and with integrity

February 25, 2020

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Click on this link to register. Workshop location (room) is provided in the registration confirmation. No cost to attend. All are welcome.

Workshop Description

Academic integrity is fundamental to the value, role and function of universities. How is academic integrity demonstrated in our teaching and learning environments?

Join us for an interactive and insightful workshop focused on positive aspects of supporting academic integrity from a teaching and learning perspective.

Learning outcomes

In this session participants will:

  • Explore what academic integrity is in a postsecondary context
  • Evaluate teaching and learning practices that support or hinder academic integrity
  • Reflect on fundamental values of academic integrity and how they are reflected throughout the academic community.

We are excited to engage members of our campus community in this work. In the spirit of taking a multi-stakeholder approach to academic integrity, welcome academic staff (of all ranks), teaching assistants, staff, students and others who are interested to join us for this workshop.

This workshop is just one aspect of our ongoing commitment to build a campus culture of academic integrity. We look forward to engaging with you at this event. If you have any questions about academic integrity initiatives at the University of Calgary, contact Sarah Elaine Eaton.

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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.


Exam cheating at Newfoundland high school: Lessons to be learned

February 7, 2020
photo of student inside classroom

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

My day started with an interview with Bernice Hillier from the CBC Newfoundland Morning show about the recent case of exam cheating at Exploits Valley High school in Grand Falls-Windsor, NL. According to a CBC news article, there was an alleged break and enter at the school last week during the school’s mid-term exam period.

CBC news quoted the school principal, Mr. Paul Lewis, as saying:

“Early last week, the school administration became aware that unauthorized entry was recently gained to our school and individuals accessed sensitive curriculum-related school materials,” read Lewis’ letter to parents. “We understand that copies of the exams were made available and a number of students may have chosen to access this stolen material in advance of the exams.” (See the full CBC article.)

Based on my research related to academic misconduct, it is fairly rare for students to break into a school to steal exams these days. It is more likely that exam questions or answers would be posted online, as happened at Brandon University last fall. Breaking and entering is a criminal offence and in the case of the Newfoundland high school the RCMP are involved, according to the media.

As I reflect on this morning’s interview, here are some lessons to be learned from this case:

Schools need an Exam Security Protocol

The CBC article talked about an alleged break and enter. I could not help wondering how secure the exams were inside the school. Were they easily accessible once someone was within the building? Or were they secured in a locked filing cabinet within a locked office?

K-12 school districts and schools can help uphold academic integrity by developing a clear exam security protocol, such as this one at the University of Regina. It can be a plain language document that outlines what the expectations are for keeping testing materials secure throughout the life cycle of an exam.

At the very least, physical copies of printed exams need to be kept in locked filing cabinets within a locked office, with the keys stored in a separate location.

Make the Exam Security Protocol public

Then, ensure the Exam Security Protocol is publicly posted online. The University of Regina does this by posting their protocol as a downloadable .pdf. This makes the expectations for exam security clear to administrators, teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders.

It also helps to communicate to the public that schools care about academic integrity from an organizational perspective.

Have a Communications Plan in place to address academic misconduct

Because there is an expectation for schools to uphold public trust it is important for school boards to have a communications plan in place and ready to roll out instantly when there are breaches of integrity. Having clear, positive, pro-active messaging in place and a plan to communicate that to the public is critical.

If a school board or a school never needs to implement the plan, that is all the better, but it is important to know what messages to convey, along with how and when, and to whom to convey them. Whether it is tax payer dollars or private school fees that fund education, parents and community members contribute to education. So it is important to have mechanisms in place to communicate openly and transparently about how violations of academic misconduct are handled in a positive and pro-active manner. Upholding public trust is crucial when an academic misconduct crisis occurs.

Engage the public in conversations about how schools uphold integrity

At the beginning of the radio interview this morning Bernice Hillier indicated that the school had declined to comment. Although I have research expertise on the topic of academic integrity, it is also important to get a local perspective. (Even though I grew up in Atlantic Canada, I have lived in Calgary for a long time. I am the first to admit that at times my knowledge of local news is limited.)

Not only is a local perspective important, it is imperative for school leaders to take the opportunity to communicate strong messages of integrity when there are breaches. I was disappointed to hear that neither the Exploits Valley High school, nor the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) would engage with the media, apart from a written statement.

Schools and school boards have an obligation to work continuously to maintain public trust. A breach of integrity is also an opportunity to engage with stakeholders. Key messages to communicate at a time of crisis like this include:

  1. Our students are our first priority. We care about our students and we are here for them.
  2. We are committed to supporting our students to learn in ethical ways.
  3. As a school community, here are the steps we are taking to uphold academic integrity…
  4. As a school community, here is what we have learned from this incident…

Incidents like this are as much an opportunity for school communities, as for students, to learn and grow. Closing ranks and declining to communicate don’t actually do much to restore public trust in the education system.

If school administrators want students to be honest and transparent about what happened, then they could choose to lead by example by being engaging in open communication themselves. This might include:

  1. Town Hall assembly for parents, students and community members.
  2. Open and transparent communications about the lessons learned by the school and school district.
  3. Public statement about the changes that will be made going forward to uphold academic integrity within the school.

There is no doubt that breaking and entering is a serious matter and a crime. This might also be an opportunity to engage educational leaders in conversations about whether a restorative justice approach might be appropriate in a case such as this.

Breaches of academic integrity present opportunities for learning and for community building. There is still time to address this situation in a positive and pro-active manner that keeps the focus on student learning and student success.

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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.


Academic integrity violations in Canada that made the news 2010-2019

February 3, 2020
Significant Incidents of Academic Misconduct in Canada 2010-2019

Significant Incidents of Academic Misconduct in Canada 2010-2019

At the end of the fall 2019 term, there were three instances of academic misconduct in Canadian higher education that made the news:

Brandon University, Manitoba

Students in a second-year nursing class at Brandon University faced disciplinary action after a final exam for the 2019 fall semester was deemed “compromised” (Klowak, 2020). The course in question was 71:250 Nursing Foundations II course, taught by Dr. Ali Salman. Although the total number of students implicated was not officially released,the media reported that between 46 and 48 students may have been involved. One news report printed a photo of a de-identified letter, signed by the Dean of the Faculty of Health Studies, Dr. John Moraros, indicating that the students would be offered the opportunity to re-take their final exam, with the caveat that the maximum they could earn on the rewritten exam would be 70%. Although the incident took place at the end of the fall 2019 term, details did not appear in the news until early 2020.

Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

On the west coast, the media reported that the Burnaby RCMP investigated allegations of someone impersonating a student during a final exam. Both the test writer and the student were arrested. The incident allegedly occurred on December 12, 2019, though details of the story did not appear the media for almost a week afterwards.  Details about the individuals involved or the course the final exam related to were not released.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatchewan

Twenty-two (22) construction electricians had their journeyperson certificates suspended or cancelled as a result of an investigation into exam cheating at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Moosejaw. Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) and an unidentified third- party investigation firm found that apprentices had accessed unauthorized materials during their exams, which included Red Seal interprovincial certification exams, one of the highest credentials available to journeypeople in Canada.

News stories over the past decade

The investigation reportedly began 18 months prior, with the cheating having been found to occur between 2015 and 2018. Two individuals were implicated in the scandal. CBC reported that an instructor who was found to have been giving out exam answers to students was fired following the investigation. In addition, an SATCC staff member was also found responsible and resigned.

These reports got me asking what other cases of academic misconduct were reported by the press in the past decade. I did some digging and documented some of the most prominent cases in this report.

One of the findings that surprised me was that the media have reported at least three cases in the past decade that resulted in arrests in Canada for contract cheating through exam impersonation. In addition the 2019 case at Simon Fraser University, there was an arrest made in 2016 at Concordia University and another two years prior for a similar situation at the University of Waterloo.

The report I pulled together documents key cases covered by the media in the past decade. Here’s to doing better in the decade ahead.

Get the full report:

Eaton, S. E. (2020).  An Inquiry into Major Academic Integrity Violations in Canada: 2010-2019. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/111483

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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.


Journal of Educational Thought: Special Issue on Academic Integrity and Ethics

January 14, 2020

JET Cover 52(3)I am so pleased to share that the special issue of the Journal of Educational Thought dedicated to academic integrity and ethics is now out. I am excited about this work because it adds to the growing body of scholarly and research literature on these important topics, not only in Canada, but globally, too.

I was the guest Co-Editor for this special issue, together with the journal’s editor-in-chief, Ian Winchester.

Here’s an overview of what’s in the issue:

Editorials

Winchester, I. (2019). Academic integrity in the university. Journal of Educational Thought, 52(3), 187-190.

Eaton, S. E. (2019). Considerations of corruption, ethics and integrity in educational contexts: Guest editorial. Journal of Educational Thought, 52(3), 191-192.

Research articles

Lock, J., Schroeder, M., & Eaton, S. E. (2019). Designing and implementing an online academic integrity tutorial: Identifying the challenges within a post-secondary context. Journal of Educational Thought, 52(3), 193-208.

Lancaster, T., Glendinning, I., Foltýnek, T., Dlabolová, D., & Linkeschová, D. (2019). The perceptions of higher education students on contract cheating and educational corruption in South East Europe. Journal of Educational Thought, 52(3), 209-227.

Henry, R., & Gabel, C. (2019). “It’s not just a picture when lives are at stake: Ethical considerations and photovoice methods with Indigenous Peoples engaged in street lifestyles”. Journal of Educational Thought, 52(3), 229-252.

Miron, J. B. (2019). Academic integrity in a student practice environment: An elicitation study. Journal of Educational Thought, 52(3), 253-273.

All of the research articles underwent double-blind peer review.

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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.


University of Calgary activities planned for 2019 International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating

October 16, 2019

This year, the Univeristy of Calgary has activities planned for students, faculty, staff, teaching assistants and other members of the university community. We have activities being led by students all over campus including:

  • Student’s Union, Mac Hall – Lunch time awareness event and game.
  • Taylor Family Digital Library – Interactive prize wheel game.
  • Health Research Innovation Centre (HRIC) Atrium – Foothills Campus – Interactive prize wheel game.
  • Roaming Whiteboards – Social media campaign – Students Union representatives.

 

I will document the student-focused initiatives in another post after the Day of Action.

We have also launched the University of Calgary’s own social media campaign called #UHaveIntegrity. Here’s a photo of our shiny new laptop stickers that we’ll be giving out starting tomorrow:

#Uhaveintegrity sticker on Mac small

In this post, I highlight two workshops, designed specifically to help academic staff and teaching assistants better understand what contract cheating is and how to address it.

Workshop #1: Contract Cheating: What professors and teaching assistants need to know

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 – 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

How do you know if your students are buying their academic work from the Internet? How prevalent is this practice, anyway? How do you talk to your students about the issue of contract cheating? Get answers to these questions and more in this interactive workshop. Find out the latest research about academic outsourcing and get resources to help.

Participants will:

Gain insights into how the contract cheating industry really works

Learn what the latest research says

Learn practical ways to detect contract cheating and how to talk to students about it.

Facilitator: Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD. is the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on academic integrity, misconduct and contract cheating.

Register here.

Workshop #2: Pay-to-Pass: Knowledge as a commodity

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 – 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

With the aid of social media, companies offering study ‘help’ and better grades have proliferated the post-secondary sector at an alarming rate.  Students are deliberately or inadvertently breaching academic integrity regulations in the search of an easier solution to improve academic performance. This interactive workshop examines how some of these companies have created the ease and (sometimes) anonymity of online uploads and downloads.

Participants will:

Learn the scope of the pay-to-pass phenomenon

Share and discuss their experiences with pay-to-pass companies

Brainstorm solutions to this rising crisis.

Facilitators: Ebba Kurz,  PhD., Associate Dean, Undergraduate Health and Science Education and Director, O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program, Cumming School of Medicine

Nancy Chibry, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs and Student Affairs, Faculty of Science

These workshops are free of charge and open to all members of the campus community.

Register here.

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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.


MEd Certificate in Academic Integrity

October 2, 2019

MEd Cert - Academic IntegrityThis program is situated as one component of a course-based Master of Education (MEd) Interdisciplinary. Students will undertake a 4-course topic in Academic Integrity to earn a Master’s level certificate qualification.

Program Overview: The Academic Integrity four-course topic fosters an understanding of theories of knowledge, knowledge sharing, attribution, as situated within an educational leadership context. Students will engage in research-intensive courses to understand how academic integrity is understood from the perspectives of theory and professional practice. Students will apply their knowledge in the exploration, critique and design of institutional, teaching, learning and assessment practices as they relate to academic integrity. This 4-course topic serves to develop professional autonomy and capacity at both K-12 and post-secondary contexts.

Program Goals:

  • Develop research-informed understanding of academic integrity, situated within current problems, as well as emerging trends in the field.
  • Develop and extend concepts relating to ethical decision-making, policy, academic misconduct case management.
  • Develop and extend methodological and theoretical competence in the field of academic integrity.

Format: Fully online

Program dates: July 2020 to April 2021

Applications open: November 1, 2019  Applications close: March 15, 2020

For more information about the Master of Education (MEd) Interdisciplinary: http://werklund.ucalgary.ca/gpe/

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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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