Academic Integrity Initiative – Involving Faculty and Students, 2014-15

A collaboration between UGE, CELT, Faculty Advancement, and Presentation U! offers this year an exciting line-up of activities focusing on issues in academic integrity.

Background

While some institutions have formal Academic Integrity units (for example, the University of California San Diego’s Academic Integrity Office) that consistently promote among faculty and students a culture of integrity and ethics in education, the University of Kentucky has not yet done so. Since we do not have an academic integrity office here at UK, we rely on individual faculty and department chairs to address it in their own academic cultures. But this is not just an issue of undergraduate students in the classroom. In today’s “publish or perish” culture in research universities, the pressure to produce a scholarly monograph can tempt our most experienced as well as young scholars.

We seek to address these issues directly and to improve our scholarly community’s discussions in a more intentional approach toward academic integrity. There are two major approaches to bolstering academic integrity centrally and within a university community:

  • Rule compliance – a committee develops a rule that tells scholars and students can’t do and the university formally adopts the document, complete with specific penalties associated with non-compliance; the tone of this method is typically very legalistic and can quickly become adversarial. This approach is typically supported with plagiarism detection software and warnings in the instructors’ syllabi about its use – as is the situation currently here at the University of Kentucky.
  • Integrity approach – primarily developmental in design, asserting that the university is responsible for crafting spaces for ethical discussions, using discipline only as a tool to help the accused and accuser develop as a person and as members of a healthy scholarly community. This approach requires regular and consistently informed involvement by faculty, staff and students (with administrative involvement only on rare occasions). The corresponding campus discussions about academic integrity and ethics include events or activities at local, departmental levels as part of a broader university initiative to raise awareness. This approach has been in the news, see: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/03/21/experts-explore-plagiarism-beyond-traditional-definition.

Plagiarism detection is one solution in addressing this issue, but this request is about all potential solutions for empowering students and their instructors to improve scholarly performances.

Events and Activities to Join In

This academic year, the group offers several strategies to encourage and promote among both students and faculty a culture of integrity and ethics in research and education:

  1. CELT offered a faculty workshop early in the semester to new faculty (and any other faculty who wanted to participate): “Cheating: Curbing, Catching and Consequences” took place on Tuesday, September 9 and was repeated on September 10. The one-hour workshop addressed the issue of academic dishonesty to include cheating on exams and plagiarizing papers.  The workshop facilitators helped faculty answer these questions: What strategies can be used to curb cheating from occurring and catching it when it does?  How can we construct our courses to reduce the incentives for cheating?  What is the UK policy for dealing with students suspected of cheating? More faculty workshops will be offered by CELT this spring so watch for notices from their listserv. (If you are not a member of the CELT Announcement List, you can subscribe by going to the CELT website and clicking on “Join Our Announcement List.”
  2. Student workshops led by Presentation U! faculty mentors in collaboration with Student Affairs will address academic integrity. The first one is “Power Hour on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism” which will occur on October 16 at 3 p.m. at the Presentation U! center (B-24 W.T.Young Library – download the flyer here). The Presentation U! team will come to your department or division to offer this Power Hour as part of this strategic effort to support student success – to schedule an on-site Power Hour in your area, contact the Presentation U! team at 218-5186.
  3. Academic Integrity Website Outline - screenshot of PreziUGE will launch a new interactive website focusing on Academic Integrity that is scenario-based, offers best practices throughout, both faculty/staff and student focused, and gamified. See the draft outline (and partners involved) at http://prezi.com/3lnyb6nvznry/academic-integrity-site-outline/.
  4. UGE, CELT and Faculty Advancement have collaborated to launch the Academic Integrity Faculty Learning Community (FLC). This FLC’s agenda is designed to address campus-wide need for greater attention to active learning strategies and articulation of ethics in undergraduate student scholarship specific to disciplinary standards. Characteristics of the FLC will be as follows:
    • led and operated by the faculty, facilitated by Lee Skallerup Bessette (CELT)
    • consists of 10-15 members from departments with high enrollment majors and key introductory service courses (including Chemistry, Biology, Physics, WRD and CIS)
    • receives a budget to spend on activities/materials and each faculty receives a stipend
    • meets regularly (at least once a month) and produces something (by each individual or by the group) that will be shared with the university community in April 2015
    • will combine with students in a Presentation U! Power Hour on Academic Integrity in February or March
    • will present their findings and allow for campus-wide discussions in a special event co-sponsored with the undergraduate colleges’ deans sometime in the first week of April 2015

    More information will soon be coming from Dr. Ben Withers who is working with the deans of the undergraduate colleges to identify the members of this new FLC.

Supporting the UK 2014-20 Strategic Plan

This initiative addresses specific actions identified in the UK Strategic Plan, in particular these actions and targets in Goal 1, “Create a Vibrant Undergraduate Learning Community”:

  • Action 1: Focus on High Quality and Interdisciplinary Learning
    • Tactic 1.1: Cultivate students’ awareness of UK’s academic excellence
    • Tactic 1.4: Expand opportunities for undergraduate enrichment programs
  • Action 2: Engage in High-Impact Teaching and Learning
    • Tactic 2.1: Create a campus-wide culture in support of teaching
  • Action 3: Achieve National Excellence in Student Support
    • Using quantitative and qualitative data, target, strengthen and coordinate programming and support to close gaps in student educational achievement, equity, opportunity, and success

If you have any questions, please contact:

  • Lee Skallerup Bessette, Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (English)
  • Sonja Feist-Price, Assistant Provost for Faculty Affairs (Education)
  • Randolph Hollingsworth, Assistant Provost for Program Development, Division of Undergraduate Education (History)
  • Jasmine McNealy, Assistant Professor, Information Communication Technology, and Presentation U! Faculty Fellow
  • Chris Rice, Associate Director, Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (Political Science)
  • Deanna Sellnow, Director of Presentation U! and Assistant Provost for Transformative Learning, Undergraduate Education (Communication)

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About UK Student and Academic Life

Undergraduate Education is now recreated within the Division of Student and Academic Life in the Provost's Office at the University of Kentucky.
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