The discourse around academic integrity has become more prolific and robust, and the nature of, as well as what constitutes academic misconduct has expanded and continues to evolve as the landscape of education and technology changes. Current examples of misconduct behaviours include but are not limited to:
- copying answers during an assessment,
- claiming another person’s work as one’s own,
- unauthorized collaboration,
- having another person complete an assessment,
- unauthorized use of online platforms to complete an assessment,
- purchasing a completed assessment, and
- falsifying results from experiments.
As the number of incidents rises, post-secondary instructors and administrators have begun to explore and adopt preventative approaches to addressing misconduct behaviours. However, incidents of misconduct are complex, and institutions need a holistic preventative approach.
To illustrate this complexity, let us assume that in some instances students are aware that their actions do not comply with the academic integrity policies, but in other instances, their noncompliance with the policy is unintentional. Preventative strategies used to address the former will differ from those used in the latter. As an example, not all students are aware that unauthorized collaboration, i.e students working together on an assignment or project that is meant to be completed individually, is a form of misconduct. For the students who would intentionally work in a group when they are meant to work independently, we may wish to discuss what academic integrity means ahead of the assignments and indicate the consequences for non-compliance with the institutional and classroom policies as our preventative approach. For the students who might unintentionally discuss an assignment with a group when collaboration is not allowed, prevention may be as simple as being explicit about how students should or should not work together when giving instructions for that assignment.
Another important consideration is the phrase academic dishonesty itself. This phrase is widely used to indicate a student’s failure to meet the standards and practices that are set out in institutional, departmental or course policies. However, the term is value laden and assumes an intentionality associated with a particular behaviour. In section two of this toolkit, we propose using a Complexity Quadrants model to frame the conversation about academic integrity and when addressing the variability in behaviour and associated intent.
The next section examines the core principles that constitute academic integrity and provides a starting point for grounding readers in the concept of academic integrity in the current, North American context.