Information Update - Spring 2012

Academic Integrity Tutorial for Undergraduate Students

Academic integrity is a crucial issue for educational institutions, particularly in an ever- increasing online environment. Colleges and universities struggle with how to convince their students of the importance of ethical standards when taking examinations, writing papers or reports, and collaborating with others, and The University of Scranton is no exception.
 
In the spring of 2007, the Provost requested that the Planning, Assessment & Institutional Research Office (PAIRO) measure how students and faculty at The University of Scranton viewed academic integrity. student_picsThe survey was administered to graduate and undergraduate students registered for the 2007 spring semester, as well as to full-time and part-time faculty who were teaching courses during that semester. As reported in The University of Scranton's Middle States Self Study Report, "...the survey did suggest that there is significant ignorance about what actually is academic dishonesty and that there is a need for continually available instruction on the details of plagiarism, accurate citations, fair-use, and related topics."
 
The University's Weinberg Memorial Library spearheaded a project that provided just such instruction by creating an academic integrity tutorial. Librarians and instructional technologists and Techcons in the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) adapted, with permission, a scholarly research and research ethics tutorial used by Georgetown University.
 
University of Scranton students are required to take an online tutorial on academic integrity, and the class of 2015 was the fifth group of undergraduates to do so. The completion rate has been high. An average of 95.7% of undergraduate students completed the tutorial over the five year span. The high completion rate may be partially attributed to the fact that incoming freshmen are eager to complete tasks they perceive as required of them. In addition, there are some faculty members that include taking the academic integrity tutorial as a course requirement. Because students access the tutorial though the university's portal, faculty can track student completion of the tutorial, also through the portal.
 
During the 2008-2009 academic year, we substantially revised the tutorial to follow the elements of the Academic Code of Honesty and to better engage students. We also included an assessment component at the end of the tutorial, an optional anonymous online survey consisting of three open-ended questions. The purpose of the assessment is twofold: first, to ascertain if taking an online tutorial on academic integrity promotes a better understanding of academic integrity; and second, to refine and improve the tutorial. Over the three periods during which data was collected, 484 undergraduates took the survey, yielding a 26.3% response rate.
 
The first question in the survey was "Has your understanding of academic integrity changed after taking the tutorial? How?" We now have three years' worth of data that shows the tutorial has an impact on their understanding of academic integrity. Two-thirds of those who took the survey (620 students for a 21.7% response rate) replied that the tutorial made a difference. Although some students answered this question with only "yes" or "no," many included comments. One particularly honest comment from an undergraduate stated,
My understanding of academic integrity has altered as many of the practices that I have witnessed in high school and (sad to say) have participated in myself. I have learned to have a no-tolerance attitude at The University of Scranton. I am happy that the university integrated this tutorial as a requirement.
 
Students were also asked what they liked about the tutorial and if anything should be changed in the tutorial. Feedback from these two questions was used to improve the tutorials. We modified several components of the tutorials based on student suggestions and will continue to solicit feedback in order to improve the tutorial. To access the undergraduate Academic Integrity Tutorial in Guest Mode, go to http://academic.scranton.edu/department/atcdev/academicIntegrity/
 
There is also an online academic integrity tutorial for graduate students, which we'll tell you about in our next issue.
Bonnie Oldham
 
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