Academic integrity update

Academic Integrity education for students: the state of play

As we get deeper into ‘marking season’, the load created by dealing with student failures to meet academic integrity requirements becomes more evident. How we deal with this has two key components: how we respond to cases, and how we reduce cases. Currently the first part is prominent in the minds of staff in the sector, the press and in the literature. The other is equally important.

Much of the literature agrees that a key part is educating students about academic integrity. However how to best provide that education remains unclear. Sefcik, Striepe and Yorke 2019 have recently published research mapping the territory of what is provided by Australian and New Zealand tertiary institutions. They also interviewed staff to identify what the ‘new generation’ of academic integrity education should look like.

Their article opens with the observation that ‘academic integrity is the moral fabric of higher education’ but they later note that only 65% of AI courses for students explore the values that are the essence of AI: less than 80% position AI as ethical practice. Many programs are compulsory but they note that completion, particularly of standalone programs, does not equate to developing understanding or valuing AI.

So where should we be going? The results from interviews identified the need to adopt collaborative, multi-faceted and value-driven approaches. Respondents suggested that AI education needs to be localised, delivered just-in-time/just as needed and embedded in curriculum and professional values/ethics of the students chosen discipline. One participant observed ‘… staff need to induct students into the ethical challenges they will face as emerging scholars and practitioners … and help them to figure out how to navigate these.’

Linking AI as ethical practice to ethical practice in disciplines throughout the students’ experience has potential to make AI real and meaningful to students but will require effort. But it may be more constructive and productive educational effort that leads to less administrative effort being spent at the ‘back end’.

Contributed by Dr Don Houston
Senior Lecturer in Higher Education – CILT

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