Academic Integrity: Transforming Invisible work into Visible and Valued Work

July 7, 2021

In a previous post I talked about how the work of academic integrity is often invisible and unrecognized. Today I wanted to share some exciting news. Over the past couple of years, colleagues at the University of Calgary have been working hard to update an old and outdated manual to address hiring, merit assessment, tenure and promotion for academic staff.

In the fall of 2020, I had an opportunity to connect with the two project leads, Dr. Florentine Strzelczyk and Dr. Francine Smith, to speak specifically about matters relating to ethics and integrity. We talked about the invisible nature of academic integrity work and how I’d heard anecdotally from colleagues that for those without a formal leadership appointment, such as an Associate Dean who investigates and adjudicates academic misconduct allegations and cases, had no formal mechanism to have work relating to academic integrity recognized when it came to our bi-annual review as faculty members. Similarly, there was no formal way to showcase this work in an application for hiring, tenure or promotion.

Dr. Strzelczyk and Dr. Smith listened closely and asked insightful questions about how academic integrity work could be better recognized as legitimate academic work at our university. Generally, our work as professors is broadly classified into three main categories: Research, Teaching, and Service. The amount of time we spend working in each area depends on the type of appointment you have, but in most cases, academic staff are expected to contribute to all three areas.

We had an open and collegial exchange about which categories academic integrity work would fall into. There are a limited number of us at our university who conduct research into academic integrity, so instead we focused on teaching and service. It became obvious that academic integrity work certainly counts towards service when it involves reporting and preparing evidence when a breach of integrity (i.e., academic misconduct) is suspected. We also talked about how it should also be recognized as a teaching and learning contribution. We talked about the need to recognize effort that goes into conceptualizing, designing, and implementing ethical assessments, for example. We explored the idea that when a professor takes time to prepare materials to teach their students how to learn ethically (e.g., developing tip sheets for their students on how to cite and reference properly) that these activities are related to teaching and learning, rather than service. We talked about how faculty work relating to academic integrity isn’t about teaching or service, but rather teaching and service.

I was really impressed with how my colleagues listened and responded. They incorporated changes into the handbook that I’m really quite ecstatic about and I wanted to share with you the specific language around these updates, so that if you are thinking about updating your own faculty handbooks on your campus, this might serve as a model.

The new University of Calgary GFC Academic Staff Criteria & Process Handbook was officially approved last month by our General Faculties Council (GFC) one of the highest governance bodies of the university. In the handbook, academic integrity is now officially recognized as part of our Teaching (Section 1.3) and Service (Section 1.4) responsibilities. The specific passages where academic integrity is highlighted are as follows: 

“Teaching may take different forms such as direct or classroom instruction at undergraduate and/or graduate levels, as well as competency-based education, and/or field and practicum supervision. Teaching activities may include lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratories, clinical sets, advising/counselling, creating lesson plans, assessments, grading, and examinations, and upholding academic integrity. Delivery of instruction and support of student learning may be face-to-face, on-line and blended and may occur inside and outside of the classroom, on and off campus (including land-based education), in collaboration with other instructors, other faculties, associated institutions, community organizations or with Indigenous knowledge-keepers and communities.” (Bolding added).

GFC Academic Staff Criteria & Process Handbook (Section 1.3.3, p. 10)

and

“Service to the University may include participation in Program or Unit-level, Department or Division, Faculty, and University committees, councils, task forces, ad hoc teams, and governing bodies, or other parts of the University including the Faculty Association. Activities that contribute to upholding academic and research integrity across various parts of the academy shall also be considered as important service contributions to the University.” (Bolding added).

GFC Academic Staff Criteria & Process Handbook (Section 1.4.3, p. 11)

This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that academic has been explicitly named in our institutional faculty handbook in this way. To say I am excited about this is an understatement!

The details of exactly how this work can be recognized has yet to be determined, and the devil is always in the details, as they say. Nevertheless, we now have a mechanism by which it can be recognized and that in itself is a huge step forward.

I am hopeful that this will provide colleagues on campus with a means to move academic integrity work from being invisible to being not only visible, but also valued. I also hope that other institutions, both universities and colleges alike, will take similar action to ensure that the work that goes into upholding and enacting academic and research integrity is clearly acknowledged as being legitimate and important contributions to the role of an academic staff member.

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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 or anyone else.


Academic Integrity: Resource for Teaching Assistants

September 16, 2019

JPEG - U Have Integrity Resource for TAs.jpgAs a Teaching Assistant (TA) it can be tricky to know what your responsibilities are if you suspect or observe academic misconduct. This resource is intended to help both TAs and course instructors about the roles and responsibilities teaching assistants play in upholding academic integrity at the University of Calgary.

Teaching assistants are responsible for acting with integrity, maintaining the privacy of all parties involved and reporting any suspected or actual cases of academic misconduct to the course instructor. TAs are not responsible for confronting student(s) who may be allegedly responsible for academic misconduct and nor are they responsible for imposing sanctions (discipline). It is the responsibility of the course instructor to follow the guidelines established by their faculty for responding to allegations of academic misconduct.

Open communication between course instructors and teaching assistants is key. Establishing expectations early in the term, before issues might arise can be very helpful for teaching assistants.

It is important for teaching assistants to know they are not alone when it comes to upholding academic integrity.

This one-page tip sheet is intended as a suggested guideline to help teaching assistants figure out what to do if they encounter or suspect a breach of academic integrity. This handout is not exhaustive and it may not cover all situations. This resource was developed specifically for teaching assistants at the University of Calgary and may not apply to TAs at other institutions.

Related posts:

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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.


The impact of tech on how instructors teach and how students learn

April 3, 2018

Use of tech cover.jpgI am thrilled to share a new book chapter that’s just been published. The chapter is, “The impact of technology on how instructors teach and how students learn”. It part of, The Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning, edited by Richard Harnish, K. Robert Bridges, David N. Sattler, Margaret L. Signorella and Michael Munson. It is published by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. (I know, I know, I’m not a psychologist, but the topic fits with one of my areas of interest.)

In this chapter I talk about how technology is impacting educators in terms of their pedagogical knowledge and classroom practice, as well as how tech impacts how students learn.

One of the best things about this book is that is freely available online! You can download your own copy from: https://teachpsych.org/ebooks/useoftech

In fact, the publishers have an entire collection of free books that anyone can download on topics ranging from academic advising to research on teaching, among others. Check them out here: https://teachpsych.org/ebooks/index.php

On a personal note, I have to say that I really appreciate contributing to works that are Open Access, so readers from anywhere can download, read and enjoy. There’s much to be said for this kind of publishing model and as a writer and a scholar, being able to share my work in this way is energizing.

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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.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


7 Ways to Celebrate the End of the Semester

April 12, 2017

hands hope sunCongratulations! You have made it to the end of another semester in one piece. You deserve to catch your breath and celebrate. Here are some ways to do just that:

1. Thank your loved ones. They have put up with your grumpiness, your tantrums and your anxiety all term. They’ve done chores for you that you should have been doing yourself, but turned a blind eye to because of school work. They’ve listened to you, given you advice or bitten their tongue to refrain from giving you too much advice. Seriously, they deserve some appreciation. Show your love with some flowers, a nice dinner out or some other special thank you for the loved ones who have been there for you all term.

2. Thank your classmates. Was there a classmate who really supported you this term? Was there a fellow student who listened when you needed a shoulder to cry on? Or someone who gave you awesome feedback on your work? Learning is not a solitary endeavour. Send your classmate a note of appreciation and tell them how much he or she means to you.

3. Book some self-care. Whether it is a massage, a chiropractic treatment, or a spa day, plan on rejuvenating your health and well-being. Book your wellness appointment today.

4. Go outside! You’ve likely been glued to your computer screen for weeks now, as you wrap up your final papers and projects. Go for a walk. Do some work in the garden. Just go outside and listen to the birds chirp. It’s time to expand your world beyond your own little work space again.

5. Re-connect with friends. Have you been ignoring your friends all term because of school work? Have you declined invitations or backed out of social engagements at the last minute because you’ve had too much work to do or just felt too stressed out? Your friends are waiting for you! Send your favourite pals a text or an e-mail today to make plans to get together.

6. Take a bath. There’s nothing like a hot, soothing bath to wash away the stress of a semester. Use bubbles, candles, music or whatever will help you relax. Take some to soak in the success of having completed another term.

7. Prepare a healthy meal. Have you been eating food out of boxes and cans these past few weeks, as you madly finish up projects? If so, your body is probably crying for some fresh vegetables and fruit. Why not take the time to prepare your favourite meal? Even better, make supper for your family or friends to thank them for supporting you.

These are just a few suggestions to celebrate the end of your semester. You probably have some ideas of your own. The important point here is to actually take the time to pause and celebrate your achievement. By completing another semester, you have reached another milestone towards your goals. Taking time to celebrate along the way is important and helps you to remember why you are doing all this.

Related post: 5 Ways to Show Teachers Appreciation http://wp.me/pNAh3-a5

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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.


Designing Synchronous Online Interactions and Discussions

May 17, 2016

IDEAS 2016: Designing for InnovationA few weeks ago I co-presented a session at the University of Calgary’s IDEAS 2016 conference. This year the theme was “Designing for Innovation”. My colleagues, Barb Brown and Meadow Schroeder and I presented on how to effectively design synchronous sessions for e-learning.

The three of us are all award-winning educators, and each has her own approach to how we design and deliver real-time sessions via Adobe Connect in our classes. We offered ideas and tips on what we do and how we do it. Our paper has been included in the conference proceedings, which have just been released. Here’s a link to our paper:

Brown, B., Schroeder, M., & Eaton, S.E. (2016, May). Designing Synchronous Online Interactions and Discussions. In M. Takeuchi, A.P. Preciado Babb, & J. Lock. IDEAS 2016: Designing for Innovation Selected Proceedings. Paper presented at IDEAS 2016: Designing for Innovation, Calgary, Canada (pg 51-60). Calgary, Canada: Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51209

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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.


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