|More than Plagiarism: Academic Integrity as a Transition Program
Our proposal is to establish a program where senior students help educate new students about academic integrity. This program will be based on a pilot program run this fall in which student leaders facilitated a workshop on integrity in thirty-three English 112 classes. Alexandra Percy, a fourth-year Psychology student, initiated the program based on her research into Academic Integrity as part of her position as a co-op student with Arts Academic Advising Services. While she began this research in order to revise the Faculty of Arts website, "Avoiding Plagiarism”, she soon realized the importance of interactive, engaged learning. Her goal in developing the program was to promote awareness of Academic Integrity and was rooted in her belief that many students, especially those new to UBC, do not understand the importance of this value in their academic work. She recruited Imagine Squad Leaders to facilitate discussion with students in English 112. She chose student facilitators because research indicates that engaging students in the discussion builds a peer culture of integrity (McCabe; Roth & McCabe).
During the program we heard students identify their confusion about what constitutes plagiarism, but we also heard them identify a lack of awareness about what constitutes successful academic work at the university. This inability to understand expectations is commonly expressed by first-year students in other settings where they also express concerns about meeting those expectations. One Integrity workshop this year offered a concrete example of student perceptions differing from faculty perceptions regarding academic work. The students in the class said that they thought footnotes disturbed the flow of the paper and detracted from the originality of the work; the professor explained that he loved reading footnotes when he was doing research. Through the conversation, the class began to see "originality" in the context of academic discourse where documentation increases a researcher's credibility and strengthens an argument. The student facilitator acted as a bridge between the students and the professor when he explained that his grades improved once he understood the role of research in building an argument. Another idea that had not occurred to students was that writing with integrity provided them with transferable skills of research that were necessary for their future careers. These ideas echoed findings in research on plagiarism which shows that causes of dishonesty include, among others, ignorance or the inability to recognize plagiarism, pressure to succeed, and an inability to connect classroom activities to outcomes outside the university (McCabe).
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Susanne Goodison, Associate Director, Student Development, Arts Academic Advising Services, Faculty of Arts