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Collaboration ‘key’ to K12 academic integrity

Global institutions are looking to modify their approaches to academic dishonesty as a result of issues which have come to the fore during the pandemic, and are collaborating on strategies that they think will maintain a culture of academic integrity.

Panelists discuss supportive work in academic integrity and how the pandemic changed practices. Photo: The PIE News

The pandemic exposed some gaps in educational systems surrounding academic dishonesty

Speaking at a webinar organised by The PIE News, Amanda McKenzie, board of directors at the International Centre for Academic Integrity in the US, said that the pandemic exposed some gaps in educational systems surrounding academic integrity.

McKenzie, who is also the director of quality assurance at the University of Waterloo in Canada, an institution with 22,000 undergraduate international students, said that prior to the pandemic, academic dishonesty would only be discussed if there was a cheating scandal.

“I’m much happier now to have broader conversations about how it’s a foundational element and how we all need to work to raise awareness on our campuses and in our institutions to maintain that culture of integrity,” she said.

According to Eleanor Parker, head of learning development at King’s College London, this semester, the institution has modified its workshops and resources to build student awareness of contract cheating which involves paying for external services to complete academic work.

The issue is not limited to higher education as Nathalie Rudner, director of academics at Rosedale International Education in Canada, indicated.

At the K12 level, it is also in the process of redeveloping some of its courses. The focus is on developing assessments that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and higher order thinking along with support from research and credible sources, she detailed.

“The beauty of those types of assessments is that they’re far more interesting for students”

“The beauty of those types of assessments is that they’re far more interesting for students and I think once you engage students in a more interesting activity then they discover their passion and they discover what they really want to do,” Rudner noted.

Throughout the pandemic, many institutions adopted online exam proctoring as institutions searched for a cost-effective way to manage academic dishonesty. However, McKenzie advised institutions to reconsider if this is necessary as this causes students to feel highly surveilled and under pressure. Instead, she suggests oral exams or visual presentations.

“The more connected students feel to their instructor in their content and the value of what they’re learning, the less likely they are to get into any academic dishonesty or misconduct situations,” she added.

Despite the growing concern surrounding academic integrity during the pandemic, Neil Herrington, director of international student recruitment at Cognita Schools for Europe, said that student well-being remained the top priority for Cognita’s students at 85 schools across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

Panelists agreed that issues in academic integrity arise for many reasons.

“It’s really important as educators that we work as a team to support our students,” Rudner added. “If they’re engaging in behaviour which we know is not right or that they’re doing things that are questionable, we really need to take a step back and look and their mental health. Look at how they’re doing. What else is going on in their world?”

A link to the webinar is available via crowdcast.

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