Exploring the notion of academic integrity literacy

March 16, 2019

Word Art AI literacyThe other day I was talking with Dr. Tracey Bretag about her upcoming visit to Calgary for the Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity. We were talking about the topics of her keynotes for the symposium and our conversation wandered around to contract cheating. I commented that contract cheating is poorly understood, in my opinion, by many faculty members and administrators in Canada. I commented that there are people on our campus who have never heard of it, or don’t believe it to be a widespread. I said that the importance of developing of academic integrity literacy was really important.

And there it was, a term that captures the idea of bringing together the values that underpin the values we are trying to teach our students on campus, with foundational skills we need our students to learn as part of academic literacy.

Weideman offers a comprehensive yet concise definition of academic literacy in this blog post. His definition includes skills such as understanding a variety of academic vocabulary in context, making distinctions between essential and non-essential information and knowing what counts as evidence (Wideman, n.d.). The skills Weideman describes are essential for success in numerous educational contexts.

I would add that academic integrity literacy necessarily goes beyond the development of skills to include an explicit understanding of the values that underpin integrity and a conscious commitment to upholding those values.

The International Center for Academic Integrity offers an excellent guide to explain these six Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity:

  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Fairness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Courage

What is the difference between academic integrity and academic misconduct?

This is a question that people ask me often.

Integrity advocates differentiate academic integrity from academic misconduct for a couple of reasons. First, misconduct casts a negative lens on the issue, where as a focus on integrity shifts the conversation to a more positive and supportive view. Second, misconduct focuses on unacceptable behaviours or actions that can result in penalties.

Ryerson University explains this key concept: It is the student’s responsibility to know what is expected of them in university.

Memorizing a list of behaviours or skills could seem like an easy way to understand these expectations, but the concept of integrity is more complex than that. It is about taking responsibility for one’s actions and understanding what is acceptable and what is not.

When Julia Christensen Hughes came to our campus in 2017 to talk about academic integrity, she reminded us integrity is rooted in personal code related to morals and values, but misconduct is a violation of laws and standards of practice. She emphasized that values drive behaviour.

Others have mentioned the notion of academic integrity literacy before me. Karanauskienė and colleagues mentioned the term in their paper at a 2018 conference and in another short paper in 2018, as well. However, to the best of my knowledge, no one has yet offered up a concise definition of the term, so let me offer this one:

Definition: Academic integrity literacy is an inseparable combination of values, behaviours, ethical decision-making and skills necessary for academic success.

This is a preliminary definition and we need to talk about and develop further, but it is a place to start.

Here’s a quick video I put together for visual interest:

I’ll wrap up this post by sharing that I’ve just signed a book deal to explore into academic integrity more deeply. I’ll keep you posted on that in future posts, and you can be sure I’ll be digging into this notion as I write.


Christensen Hughes, J. (2017, November 24). Understanding academic misconduct: Creating robust cultures of integrity. Paper presented at the University of Calgary, Calgary.

International Center for Academic Integrity. (2014). The fundamental values of academic integrity (2nd ed.). https://academicintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Fundamental-Values-2014.pdf

Karanauskienė, D., Česnaitienė, V. J., Emeljanovas, A. n., Miežienė, B., & Mejeryte-Narkeviciene, K. (2018). Educating academic integrity: Obscure forms of academic misconduct at the institutions of higher education. Paper presented at the International Academic Conference, Dresden.

Karanauskienė, D., Česnaitienė, V. J., Miežienė, B., & Emeljanovas, A. n. (2018). Differences in understanding academic integrity: A Lithuanian case. Higher Education in Russia and Beyond, 3(17), 6-7. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329964165_Cheating_and_Plagiarism_in_Higher_Education_Higher_Education_in_Russia_and_Beyond_HERB.

Ryerson University. (n.d.). What is integrity and misconduct. Retrieved from https://www.ryerson.ca/academicintegrity/students/what-is-integrity-and-misconduct/

Weideman, A. (n.d.). What is academic literacy? [Blog post].  Retrieved from https://albertweideman.com/what-is-academic-literacy/


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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.

Reading aloud as a strategy to improve your writing

December 1, 2017

iStock-woman at laptopOne strategy to improve the quality of your writing is to read it aloud. I’ve been doing this for years.

According to the Writing Center at University of California at Chapel Hill, reading out loud means your brain gets information in a different way. You can literally hear your errors! You can find awkward constructions or sentences that are too long, for example. You can also find words that are repeated or just do not sound right.

When I read aloud I will often print out a copy of my work first. That allows me to make quick edits and notes on the page as I go. If something sounds off, I pause, make a note on my paper, then carry on reading the work aloud.

Sometimes when I recommend this strategy to my students, they tell me they feel silly reading their own work out loud. They don’t want others in their work place or household to think they are being pretentious or too eccentric. If this is the case, go find a quiet place where you can be alone.

Another important factor is to give yourself enough time to read aloud, especially if your paper is long. You may find that you prefer to read one section at a time, taking a break in between. It can also be helpful to have a glass of water nearby.

I recommend to each of you that as you revise your term paper, thesis, report or whatever you are writing at the moment that read your own work out loud (just like I did with this blog post). You’ll be surprised how much better the final product is.


The Writing Center at University of California at Chapel Hill. (n.d.). Reading aloud.   Retrieved from https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/

Writing Center at John Carroll University. (n.d.). Why We Ask to Read The Paper Aloud.   Retrieved from https://jcuwritingcenter.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/why-we-ask-to-read-the-paper-aloud/


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This blog has had over 1.8 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.

10 Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Love Reading

March 22, 2013

iStock-Girl with bookHelping a child to develop his or her love of reading is a gift that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 tips to help you cultivate your child’s love of books and reading.

1. Read together – Rather than plunking your child down in a chair with the hopes that he or she will read on their own while you do other tasks, take the time to read with your child. From start to finish, show your child what it means to choose and read a book and then think about it afterwards.

2. Create special time for reading – Set aside time regularly to read. Make this one-on-one time with your child. Choose a time of day when both you and your child are alert and ready to spend quality time together. During this time, turn off and put away your mobile device. Avoid taking phone calls, responding to e-mails or sending texts during your special reading time. Give your child your full attention and focus on creating a fun and enjoyable experience.

3. Get comfy – Chose a spot that is comfortable with lots of light. Preferably, you want to read in a space that is free of loud or distracting noises, too.

4. Let your child chose the book – Chances are higher that your child will be motivated to read with you if you let him or her pick out the book you will read. If you choose the book, your child’s interest levels may be too low to fully engage him or her.

5. Take turns – You do not have to do all the reading and neither does your child. Take turns and share the reading experience.

6. Change your voice – Change the speed, pitch and tone of your voice to keep the experience exciting for your child. Create different voices for different characters to engage your child’s imagination.

7. Give encouragement – Give your child lots of praise and support as he or she learns to read. Be gentle, kind and encouraging. This helps to create a positive atmosphere where learning and discovery go hand in hand.

8. Offer incentives – For reluctant young readers, incentives can help motivate him or her. For example, one incentive might be that for every book you read together, your child can stay up for an extra 15 minutes that night… but you have to get through the whole book! Choose incentives that don’t involve food, TV or video games to help encourage a healthy lifestyle. Keep the rewards modest and then keep your promise.

9. Ask questions as you read – Ask your child to point to characters in the book or identify items that are a certain color. When your child is ready, ask about letters and words, too.

10. Keep the fun going – After you have finished your book, ask your child about his or her favorite parts of the story or favorite characters. Ask questions that help him or her remember the story. Practice new words together, too.


If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 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.

5 Easy Christmas Blogging Ideas for Literacy and Language Teachers

December 5, 2012

With Christmas right around the corner, teachers are scrambling to finish up the semester before the holidays. If you are a blogger, you probably do not have much time for your blog at the moment. Here are five easy ideas to keep you blogging through this busy time of year:

1. A guide to Christmas away from home

Do you have students from other countries who are missing their family and friends back home? Write a post with your top suggestions on how to survive the holidays away from home.

2. Local Christmas traditions and events

Many areas have special events such as craft fairs, light displays or free ice skating to celebrate the holidays. Tap into your local community to find out what is going on. Write a post that highlights some free or low-cost options for your students and their families.

3. Christmas crafts for young and old

Believe it or not, doing crafts can be an excellent way to build literacy and language skills. You must read instructions, follow directions and use a step-by-step method to complete a task.

Create a post with links to simple crafts that are appropriate for the ages and language proficiency of the group you teach. A link to a YouTube video is always a great idea.

4. Christmas carols for language learning

Sarah Eaton blog photoAs children we learn Christmas carols without really thinking about the words. What does it mean to “deck the halls with boughs of holly”, anyway? If you live in an area where holly does not grow then you may have never seen real holly.

Write a blog post that de-mystifies some of the language and phrases in common Christmas songs.

5. Multicultural Christmas traditions

When I was a teenager my Mom befriended a lady from El Salvador. That first Christmas we exchanged stories about our different Christmas traditions. Marta told us that setting off fireworks after their turkey dinner was part of their tradition. We had a wonderful conversation as we learned about what the similarities and differences were between our two cultures.

Write a blog post that highlights some of the traditions of your students, friends or family members.

Christmas time is one of the busiest times of the year for many people. Keep your blog posts simple and light during this time of year. Focus on joy and sharing and you’ll continue to enjoy your own blogging through the holiday season.


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 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.

5 Tips to make writing easier

October 4, 2012

This past spring I taught a course on Writing Educational Research to a group of Master’s students, most of whom taught English as an Additional Language as their job. I was surprised how many of them loathed writing. One student said that she was reluctant to teach writing in her EAL courses because it felt like forcing a traumatic experience on them.

Over the course of the six-weeks we learned together, we came up with some strategies that they could use for themselves, and also use with their students. Here they are:

1. Write every day. Saying, “I’m going to write my essay on the weekend,” can turn the weekend into a time of torture instead of a time to relax and recharge your batteries. Instead, commit to writing 30 minutes per day. This helps build the writing habit.

2. Choose a time of the day when you feel fresh and creative.  For me, that time is often first thing in the morning. By mid-afternoon I am crashing and after supper my brain seems capable of basic life support only. In the morning is when I feel both creative and clear-headed.

3. Work with a writing partner. Choose someone you get along with and like to work with. Arrange a time to work together to review each other’s writing, make suggestions and do some peer editing. The point of working together is to try to help each other, not to nit pick. Set some ground rules and focus on the positive.

4. Let go. Some students said they hated writing because they couldn’t tolerate being criticized or being asked to revise their writing. They became very emotionally attached to their writing right away. What if the purpose of writing was to share it? And share it in the best form possible? If we start with that idea, then we might become less emotionally tethered to the writing… You can still be proud of your work without having a  Gollum-like attachment to it.

5. Edit and revise. It is said that Mozart never revised his music. He sat down, wrote it and was done. Unfortunately, most of us are not Mozart. I recently submitted the second revision of an article I submitted to a peer-reviewed academic journal. It was “accepted with minor revisions” when I first submitted it. That was almost six months ago. I made the changes the reviewers requested and re-submitted it. Then recently, the editor came back to me with a few more minor changes. He was right in asking me to change a few more things. I had forgotten to add in some citations, which are important in journal articles. I made the changes and sent the manuscript back again. I had been so close to the work, I could no longer see the errors. Working with editors, reviewers and instructors is really a chance to make your writing better.

Writing seems to be very easy for some people and very painful for others. These strategies may help a few reluctant writers and ease their stress so writing does not seem so daunting.


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 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.

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