Posted at 3 p.m. March 22,2017
Technology advances help uphold academic integrity
Academic integrity is nothing new in education. What is new, however, is the technological advancements available to students, making it easier and more tempting to break that integrity.
Laramie County Community College’s student discipline adjudication procedure defines academic integrity as “the moral code or ethical policy of academia” which includes “values such as avoidance of cheating or plagiarism and maintenance of academic standards. Students are expected to submit original work and give credit to other peoples’ ideas.”
A blemish to upholding academic integrity, commonly known as cheating, can be done in several ways. There is:
- plagiarism, which is simply using someone else’s words exactly as stated without giving credit.
- giving or receiving test questions or answers to test questions to or from another student.
- using a book or notes for an online quiz or exam that has not been deemed as being “open-book.”
- taking an online exam for another student.
To help monitor or prevent the different types of cheating, LCCC has given instructors options to utilize in an effort to prevent cheating, such as:
- TurnItIn Feedback Studio – a software program that screens essays and written content for plagiarism, helps validate sources, and allows the instructor to give digital feedback to the student.
- Lockdown browser – once the student starts the quiz or exam, no other web browser or computer program can be opened or accessed. Optional web camera monitoring can also be activated for visual monitoring in conjunction with the lockdown browser.
- Proctorio – a remote proctoring service software that works within the web browser to monitor exam takers via web camera for an extra fee paid by the student.
- Exam Lab – students can go to the Exam Lab, sign in with a proctor using photo ID to take an exam for online and on-campus classes.
“Most incidences of plagiarism occur because students are not careful when taking notes from their sources,” Leif Swanson, instructor of English, said. “As a consequence of poor note taking, students sometimes place borrowed material into their papers without citing their sources properly.”
Swanson said he takes the incidences of unintentional plagiarism as an opportunity to teach his students how to take careful notes and correctly cite their sources in their papers. To identify plagiarism, Swanson utilizes the TurnItIn software that helps instructors validate the sources of information as well as the originality of the material submitted.
As part of a trial run with the lockdown browser, Kari Brown-Herbst, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and former web design instructor, utilized the software during the pilot year it was available at LCCC. “Once the pilot was over, I was very happy to abandon it,” Brown-Herbst said. “It felt like a very punitive environment to ask students to take an assessment in. For me, it was more important to redesign my assessment so they were more authentic.”
Brown-Herbst also said using the lockdown browser created one more step for students to have to go through and it felt like she was communicating a lack of trust to her students and that wasn’t something she wanted to be doing. “For me it was more important to develop that idea of genuine learning, authentic assessment, trust, engagement in the journey.”
Instructors, however, are not limited to utilizing only one option to help uphold students’ academic integrity. Robin Duncan, Instructor of Nursing, said in the nursing program, there are four classes of which students are grouped into and each group is assigned a room and time to report for exams. The exams are done on the same day, usually during the morning, and are taken on the computer using the lockdown browser while also being proctored by a faculty member. Also, students are not allowed to bring any items into the room with them, such as coats, backpacks, hats, cell phones, etc. While this method of testing may help with upholding academic integrity, Duncan also said this type of testing environment is also similar to and is used to help prepare the nursing students for the national registry exam, also known as the NCLEX, taken to obtain their nursing licensure.
To deal with cheating and upholding the academic integrity at LCCC, the college has a student discipline adjudication procedure that outlines the process when a student is caught cheating as well as the students’ rights and responsibilities as they pertain to academic integrity.
In addition, James Miller, special assistant to vice president of Academic Affairs, said the college is in the early planning stages of forming an academic integrity council. Miller will be joined on the council panel by faculty representatives from each school, including Jill Koslosky, dean of students, and Kelly Humphrey, director of Student Services at Albany County Campus. Students will also be encouraged to be involved on the council. Miller said research has shown when students are involved, the peer-to-peer aspect of academic integrity is a lot more effective than a faculty member encouraging students for academic integrity. Students can be nominated by faculty or peers for involvement with the council or they can volunteer. Those wishing to volunteer can contact Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-778-1104.
Miller said he hopes the council will be completely formed by the end of the semester so activities can be planned for fall 2017 that will bring more student awareness of academic integrity on campus.