Understanding Academic Integrity from a Teaching and Learning Perspective: Engaging with the 4M Framework

August 27, 2020

This post situates academic integrity within the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) discourse. The 4M framework frames integrity through a four interrelated organizational lenses: (a) micro (individual); (b) meso (departmental); (c) macro (institutional); and (d) mega (community).

Keywords: academic integrity, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), pedagogy, 4M framework, systems theory.

Introduction

Using a framework to understand complex issues, such as those relating to academic integrity, can be helpful while avoiding being overly reductionist. For a long time scholars and educators haven calling for more pro-active and pedagogical approaches to academic integrity (Eaton et al., 2017; Howard, 2002; Morris, 2016). One scholar has even called academic integrity a “teaching and learning imperative” (Bertram Gallant, 2008). In addition, the position that academic integrity is solely a student responsibility is now considered outdated, as advocates call for multi-stakeholder approaches that engage various members of the learning community including students, educators, and administrators, in different but interconnected ways (Eaton et al., 2017; Morris, 2016).

To help us understand how all these different stakeholders play a role, a systems approach to academic integrity can be helpful (Bertram Gallant, 2016; Bertram Gallant & Kalichman, 2011; Drinan & Bertram Gallant, 2008).

Systems thinking is not new; it has been around for more than half a century, if not longer (Bronfenbrenner, 1976; 1981; von Bertalanffy, 1968).

The 4M Framework

Systems theory helped to inform the conceptualization of the 4M Framework, which was developed within the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) community to help educators understand teaching and learning inquiry (Friberg 2016; Kalu et al., 2018; Kenny et al., 2016; Poole & Simmons, 2013; Simmons, 2016; Williams et al., 2013). The framework consists of four nested levels: micro, meso, macro, and mega.

The 4M Framework: Micro, Meso, Macro, and Mega Levels

The 4M Framework: Micro, Meso, Macro, and Mega Levels

The Micro Level: Individual

Individual students and educators are at the heart of the 4M framework. Each person’s conceptual understanding of academic integrity, as well as practical skills such as paraphrasing, citing, and referencing, develop at an individual level. But this learning does not happen in isolation. It is impacted by other individuals within the system, as well as the system itself.

Individual educators also operate at the micro level when they are preparing course content, lessons and activities. Research has shown over and over again that students are more likely to care about academic integrity when educators show that it matter to them, too (Bertram Gallant, 2018; McCabe et al., 2012; Eaton et al., 2017). It is at this level that educators can have a direct and lasting impact on teaching students how to engage in ethical decision making and also how to build practical skills such as paraphrasing, citing and referencing.

The Meso Level: Departmental

At this level, academic departments and support units, such as the library or the student affairs office, provide resources and learning opportunities that allow academic integrity to be operationalized. At this level support for academic integrity can be hands-on and pro-active in the form of workshops, tutorials, and practical resources.

The Macro Level: Learning Organization

The learning organization (e.g., college or school) is responsible for setting the institutional direction and culture for academic integrity. This includes having clearly articulated policies and procedures that can be applied fairly and equitably across the institution. Leaders at this level can also act as champions who set the tone for the entire school (McCabe et al, 2012).

The Mega Level: Community

This level includes stakeholders who are connected with the school, but who may not be involved on a day-to-day basis. This includes government bodies, alumni, parents and others who can be engaged to as partners in promoting academic integrity and ethical conduct in a variety of ways.

It is important to engage with colleagues from other institutions to form networks of professional practice (Kenny et al., 2016). This helps us to expand our understanding, push our boundaries and learn with and from one another. When we engage with colleagues outside of our institutions, we are engaging at the mega level. This is essential for those working in academic integrity contexts, where there might be only a handful of individuals directly engaged with this work on a day-to-day basis. Ongoing engagement with a network of like-minded professionals is key to continuing our professional learning in a sustained and sustainable way.

Conclusions

The 4M lens helps us to understand who the various stakeholders are and how they can play a role in upholding and enacting academic integrity in our learning communities. Creating a culture of integrity cannot happen if only certain individuals are engaged (McCabe et al., 2012). Instead, creating a culture of integrity requires intentional and sustained effort across a variety of different stakeholder groups within the institution.

Discussion Questions

  • Who are some of the stakeholders actively engaged in promoting academic integrity at your school?
  • How are you engaging stakeholders at every level of your school to uphold and enact academic integrity?
  • How are you creating a culture of integrity at your school?

References

Bertram Gallant, T. (2008). Academic integrity in the twenty-first century: A teaching and learning imperative. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Bertram Gallant, T. (2016). Systems approach to going forward: Introduction. In T. Bretag (Ed.), Handbook of Academic Integrity (pp. 975-977). Singapore: Springer Singapore.

Bertram Gallant, T., & Kalichman, M. (2011). Academic ethics: A systems approach to understanding misconduct and empowering change in the academy. In T. Bertram Gallant (Ed.), Creating the ethical academy: A systems approach to understanding misconduct and empowering change in higher education (pp. 27-44). New York: Routledge.

Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. New York: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1976). The Experimental Ecology of Education. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Francisco, CA

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1981). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge: Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Drinan, P. M., & Bertram Gallant, T. (2008). Plagiarism and academic integrity systems. Journal of Library Administration, 47(3-4), 125-140. doi:10.1080/01930820802186472

Eaton, S. E., Guglielmin, M., & Otoo, B. (2017). Plagiarism: Moving from punitive to pro-active approaches. In A. P. Preciado Babb, L. Yeworiew, & S. Sabbaghan (Eds.), Selected Proceedings of the IDEAS Conference 2017: Leading Educational Change Conference (pp. 28-36). Calgary, Canada: Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/52096

Friberg, J. C. (2016). Might the 4M Framework Support SoTL Advocacy? (July 11). Retrieved from https://illinoisstateuniversitysotl.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/might-the-4m-framework-support-sotl-advocacy/

Howard, R. M. (2002). Don’t Police Plagiarism: Just TEACH! The Education Digest, 67(5), 46-49.

Kenny, N., Watson, G. P. L., & Desmarais, S. (2016). Building sustained action: Supporting an institutional practice of SoTL at the University of Guelph. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2016(146), 87-94. doi:10.1002/tl.20191

Kalu, F., Dyjur, P., Berenson, C., Grant, K. A., Jeffs, C., Kenny, N., & Mueller, R. (2018). Seven voices, seven developers, seven one things that guide our practice. To Improve the Academy, 37(1), 111-127. doi:10.1002/tia2.20066

McCabe, D. L., Butterfield, K. D., & Treviño, L. K. (2012). Cheating in college: Why students do it and what educators can do about it. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Morris, E. J. (2016). Academic Integrity: A Teaching and Learning Approach. In T. Bretag (Ed.), Handbook of Academic Integrity (pp. 1037-1053). Singapore: Springer Singapore.

Poole, G., & Simmons, N. (2013). Contributions of the scholarship of teaching and learning to quality enhancement in Canada. In R. Land & G. Gordon (Eds.), Enhancing quality in higher education international perspectives (pp. 278-298). London: London: Routledge.

Simmons, N. (2016). Synthesizing SoTL institutional initiatives toward national impact. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2016(146), 95-102. doi:10.1002/tl.20192

von Bertalanffy, L. (1968). General system theory: Foundations, development, applications. New York: George Braziller.

Williams, A. L., Verwoord, R., Beery, T. A., Dalton, H., McKinnon, J., Strickland, K., . . . Poole, G. (2013). The Power of social networks: A model for weaving the scholarship of teaching and learning into institutional culture. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(2), 49-62. doi:10.2979/teachlearninqu.1.2.4

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To cite this post in your own work, refer to the original report archived online:

Eaton, S. E. (2020). Understanding Academic Integrity from a Teaching and Learning Perspective: Engaging with the 4M Framework. Calgary: University of Calgary. http://hdl.handle.net/1880/112435

For a deeper dive into this topic, read more in:

Eaton, S. E. (2021). Plagiarism in higher education: Tackling tough topics in academic integrity. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

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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.


Language Teaching and Technology – EDER 669.73 Summer 2014

June 17, 2014

I am so excited to be teaching “Language Learning and Technology” this summer in the Master’s of Education program in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. The course combines theory and practice, looking at a variety of topics around technology and language pedagogy.

One of the elements I am most excited about is that some of the course content will be decided up on and driven by the students themselves. They get to choose what articles they read, as well as facilitate and shape the online dialogue we engage in. I’ve organized some broad general topics that we’ll follow, but the students will have the opportunity to co-create the course with me throughout the summer semester. We’ll customize much of what we do to their interests and let them drive their own learning process.

Here is a copy of the course outline:

View this document on Scribd

This course combines two of my favorite topics: language learning and technology. I’m so excited to engage with the students during this learning journey.

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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.


Inquiry and ICT: Inquiry in Curriculum

July 4, 2012

University of Calgary logoI’m tickled pink to be teaching an intensive Master’s of Education course this summer at the University of Calgary. Here’s an excerpt from the course outline that describes the cool content we get to do:

Course description

This examines fundamental questions related to Information Communication Technology (ICT) and education in the 21st century. Through this course, students will examine:

  • the ways in which inquiry and digital technologies open new possibilities for representation, creation, expression and engagement;
  • the ways in which fundamental conceptions of learning, pedagogy and design reflexively influence one another;
  • the links between these conceptions and current issues in technology integration in schools;
  • the necessity of teachers of 21st century learners to be designers of learning;
  • issues of instructional design for the meaningful integration of technology in K-12 settings, including the use of Web 2.0 environments;
  • and a model of instructional design that fosters individual and collaborative searches for meaning in ambiguous, multi-dimensional environments.

Via inquiry and technology, students will explore visions of an education that not only informs learners but also equips them with knowledge, attitudes, and thinking and learning skills for nimble adaptability and responsible participation in a complex world.

Yesterday was our first day and I can’t wait to get back at it today.

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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.


What makes a teacher effective? 5 great resources

April 27, 2012

We talk a lot about what it means to be an effective learner. The flip side of that is what it takes to be an effective teacher.

Here are five outstanding resources on teacher effectiveness:

Increasing Teacher Effectiveness (2nd ed.) by Lorin W Anderson – published by UNESCO

Accelerating College and Career Readiness in States: Teacher Effectiveness – from Achieve

Best Practices for Teacher Effectiveness – from the National Council on Teacher Quality

Promoting Teacher Effectiveness in Adult Education – from the U.S. Department of Education

Instructor Competencies for Adult Education (Draft) – from the American Institute for Research

What do you think makes a teacher effective?

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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.


Free webinar: Learning the 21st century way: Making sense of how to use social media for learning

April 16, 2012

Over the past decade social media has changed how individuals connect online and share information and how organizations interact with stakeholders and customers. Did you know that social media is now being incorporated into learning programs from Kindergarten right on up through adult education? Does it really add any value to the learning process?

Join Literacy Nova Scotia and me for a 60-minute webinar on Wednesday, April 18. I’ll share exactly how I incorporated social media into one of my classes, what worked, what didn’t and what you can do in your own teaching or training practice to effectively integrate social media — and why you might want to.

Participant Outcomes

By the end of this program you will:

  • Have a basic understanding of how social media can add value to your learning programs
  • Gain insight into how to incorporate social media into a lesson plan
  • Get ideas on how to assess activities using social media
  • Get ideas on how to incorporate social media into your own learning programs

Webinar content

  1. Emerging technology trends in education. Where have we come from and where are we going?
  2. Case study: How I successfully incorporated Twitter into a university-level Effective Learning class.
  3. The pedagogical value of social media: What’s in it for the learners?
  4. Assessment of learning activities that use social media. What works, what doesn’t and why.
  5. Tips on how to incorporate social media into your own teaching practice.

Participant materials (provided to all registrants)

  • Twitter for Teachers – 25-page .pdf manual to help you get started with Twitter.
  • Sample Twitter activity.
  • Sample evaluation for a social media activity.

Requirement: A high-speed Internet connection with a sound card (so you can hear me).

Date and time: April 18, 2012, 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Atlantic Time

Thanks to Literacy Nova Scotia’s generous sponsorship, this is event is free for participants. You need to register though, as space is limited.

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Share or Tweet this post: Free webinar: Learning the 21st century way: Making sense of how to use social media for learning http://wp.me/pNAh3-1mH

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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