Academic integrity in students’ coursework may seem like a given for certain teachers. For others, achieving this academic integrity is seen as a winding and difficult road to follow. Still, it would be nice to be sure that students wrote their own homework, rather than copied answers from the internet. More specifically, it would be reassuring to know that the value of the school’s diplomas will never be called into question (even years later) because of plagiarism!
However, it can still be difficult to implement necessary actions to bolster academic integrity and digital citizenship. One of the reasons is a limiting belief among teaching staff who think they lack some of the necessary tools to move effectively in this direction.
Limiting belief: deterioration of academic integrity
A limiting belief can provide reassurance in our everyday life
Our world is rich in beliefs. This allows us to share our points of view, unites or divides us on certain subjects, arouses our curiosity, and pushes us to assert ourselves. Our beliefs are shaped by our personality, values, environment and life experience.
However, while some thoughts push us to grow and develop, others hold us back. These are called limiting beliefs. And even if they are unfounded, we sometimes cling to them for the following reasons:
– We choose to follow the group’s way of thinking in order to be accepted.
– Our education/environment pushes us to “follow the predetermined path“.
– Routine facilitates automatic reactions that don’t require deep thought or “effort”.
– Usual patterns of thought are comfortable because we know where they’ll lead.
Limiting beliefs preserve certain teaching methods
For a teacher, for example, it is convenient to offer the same course from year to year. This approach is attractive because it is the easiest. It does not require deep questioning. Regarding how to cite sources and respect copyright, some might assume that this should be covered in a specific course provided for this purpose. Some might think that it’s unnecessary to reiterate these concepts in each course. In addition, some teachers feel helpless in the face of plagiarism and think they do not have the necessary means to prevent it. Indeed, they might not have enough knowledge about the different forms of plagiarism, or about the citation standards required by the institution.
To put a face on this limiting belief, let’s imagine a teacher who never changes his methods of instruction. He does not understand new technologies very well and does not wish to use them in his course. However, students’ work habits are changing (particularly with the internet and remote learning). For instance, this teacher is aware that his students are copying and pasting answers. But guiding and correcting them would force him to grow in his proficiency on the subject. He prefers to stay in his comfort zone: routine.
Examples of limiting beliefs:
“Copyright is not part of the subject I teach.”
“There’s nothing we can do about plagiarism.”
“I don’t know where to find the time to talk about plagiarism prevention.”
Unifying beliefs: promoting academic integrity
Unifying beliefs grow ambitions
In contrast with limiting beliefs, unifying beliefs evolve over time. This way of thinking requires questioning whether your beliefs are in agreement with your actions. It has many advantages:
– Creativity invents new frameworks for growing ambitions.
– A highly aware consciousness brings actions into accordance with your values.
– New knowledge/skills are acquired throughout our lives and determine our development.
– Unifying beliefs allow you to explore new terrain to get out of your comfort zone and push your boundaries.
Unifying beliefs drive dynamic teaching
Why do some people embrace unifying beliefs? The reason is simple: the world is moving forward quickly and we must keep up. The world has not remained constant since the era when the teacher first learned his trade. New technologies are developing to advance in sharing knowledge: e-learning, remote teaching, digital pedagogy, MOOC, virtual classrooms, tablets and computers starting in primary school, etc. Methods of cheating are also changing. We are no longer talking about copying off a neighbour, but rather copying from any author via the internet. It’s even possible to buy an entire custom-made research paper! Faced with these changes, teachers are deciding to evolve in line with the goals of high-quality teaching and, above all, valuable diplomas.
Academic integrity and digital citizenship are fundamental concepts that must be taught to the students of today, who will become the adults and professionals of tomorrow. Some have understood this and have decided to teach these concepts in their courses. Others include a reminder that plagiarism is not tolerated with each assignment. They review their priorities to make sure they have the knowledge and time necessary to discuss the subject of academic integrity. The most conscientious make a point to lead by example, by citing each of the authors who served in the development of their courses. This is a way to honour those who have chosen to share their knowledge.
“it’s every teacher’s job to prepare students to become knowledgeable, productive 21st-century citizens. With tweens and teens spending an average of 6 and 9 hours respectively using media (Common Sense Media, 2015) — and that’s not including homework! — it’s no longer a question of whether our students will be digital citizens, it’s whether they will be good digital citizens and digital leaders! With media literacy instruction they can be both!!”
“Teaching media literacy provides students with skills that will help them foremost think critically about media. It also cultivates other 21st-century skills like creativity, collaboration, and communication, as well as increasing digital literacy skills through interacting with media, information, and technology. Media literacy instruction can also help your students develop into active consumers of information, determine credible sources, acknowledge biases in media, and be responsible creators of media.
“Whether you teach science, English language arts, social studies or art, there is a place for the development of these skills in your instruction!”
Article “Why all 21st-century educators must teach media literacy & how”, from the website scetv.org
To put a face to this way of thinking, let’s imagine a teacher who shares her innovative plans and invites her colleagues to join in the pursuit of academic integrity. She discusses with her students the concepts of plagiarism and respect of copyright in order to prepare them for the professional world. Her motto: growth and development.
Examples of unifying beliefs:
“Respect for intellectual property applies to all courses.”
“Discussing plagiarism is already a step toward prevention.”
“I’m rethinking my priorities in order to incorporate digital citizenship into every assignment.”
There are many ways to guide students towards academic integrity. But this depends, above all, on the teachers’ motivation and the power of their unifying beliefs. Teaching integrity in school curricula adds value to a course and empowers students.
Authenticity in writings: a state of mind
Teachers are at the heart of the anti-plagiarism process
To grow towards unifying thinking, you must first identify the main sources that limit or demotivate. To do this, you must dare to question yourself: What does this belief provide me? What do I have to gain by changing my point of view? What do I want to teach my students?
Then, to free yourself from negative thinking, you can imagine the goal that you’ll achieve. In education, this might be:
– [Re]Enhance the value of diplomas
– Go below the 5% threshold of similarities in a plagiarism-detection analysis
– Train digital citizens responsibly
– Protect the school’s reputation from a plagiarism scandal, etc.
In any case, Compilatio supports teachers by providing educational resources that are ready to distribute: videos, quizzes, websites, communication kits, etc.
Teachers support academic integrity
Here are some limiting beliefs, along with their unifying opposite beliefs, displayed in an infographic.
In this connected world, knowledge is accessible to everyone. However, methods of cheating are also evolving. With a simple copy and paste, an assignment can be “written.” But can we blame students who are not taught about citation standards and respect for copyright? It is time to act and rethink the education that we want to provide to our students.
Plagiarism prevention must be instilled by the academic institution. In the event that a student plagiarises, the teacher has an obligation to educate their students about how to do research with integrity. Honesty is not specific to a particular discipline but is rather about a willingness to learn responsibly. Motivation is the most powerful tool to further your anti-plagiarism initiative.
Teachers impart their knowledge with their students. Isn’t it only natural that they should respect authors who do the same?!
For further information, here are the sources used:
- “Why all 21st-century educators must teach media literacy & how”, from the website scetv.org, 06/01/2020, Ashley Fort
- “Suspected plagiarism in student work… how should you react?”, Compilatio, 22/04/2020