“Academic Integrity is the commitment to, and demonstration of, ethical behaviour in an academic setting”
What problems were being addressed?
Academic integrity is a priority for all stakeholders in Irish Higher Education; however, the issues relating to academic integrity may be understood, and experienced, differently by institutions, by staff, and by students.
Who was involved?
The Maynooth University EDTL Team consisted of the Project Lead, Morag Munro, who was based in the office of the Dean of Teaching and Learning, and EDTL student interns, Chris Abraham, Aishling Gillen, Katharina Kurz, Robin Meyler, and Michaela Waters. They worked with Academic staff, the University Writing Centre the Library and the Maynooth Students’ Union (MSU).
Why did you choose to address the challenges this way?
- The establishment of an institutional culture of shared responsibility for, and commitment to, academic honesty is key to creating an environment that values, fosters and promotes academic integrity
- Student-staff partnerships are one way in which dialogue about, and shared understanding of, issues surrounding academic integrity might be fostered
- Academic Integrity Week provides an opportunity to situate local discussions about academic integrity in a wider National and International context
- Shared student-staff workshops designed in collaboration between students and staff offer an opportunity to enable dialogue between students and staff, with a view to reconciling the difference between staff and students’ understanding of academic
- Involving students in the design and development of student support resources on topics relating to academic integrity brings the student voice to the fore, and can help to ensure that resources and supports are relevant to the student demographic integrity
- Leveraging student-facing social media channels have been an effective means to reach and engage with the student population
- Creation of a shared virtual wall allows both staff and student perspectives on academic integrity greater visibility
“Students were not always certain how to cite and reference correctly, which meant that, in some cases, they did not know they were plagiarising”
How were the goals achieved?
Maynooth University’s EDTL Team was established in order to ensure that activities carried out as part of the EDTL project at Maynooth were informed by the needs of students and staff from across the university. In their discussions, the team noted that the increasing use of online assessments and exams, both during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, presented new challenges with respect to academic integrity:
- Students were not always certain how to cite and reference correctly, which meant that, in some cases, they did not know they were plagiarising
- The increasing proliferation of Essay Mills, which offer their “professional services” in essay writing and assignment preparation, pose a further challenge, as students are often targeted through their social media
There was sense among students that the number of Essay Mills had increased, while Staff were sometimes unaware of the targeted Essay Mill campaigns pressuring them. The Essay Mills falsely reference academic institutions and deceive students, who may be subject to blackmail once they have paid for the services.
In order to address these challenges, the MU EDTL Team initiated a programme of work aimed at fostering a shared culture of responsibility for academic integrity at MU. Initial collaboration in this area included the creation of infographics, an Instagram campaign and ‘train the trainer’ workshops for Maynooth Students’ Union representatives.
Following on from this, the MU EDTL Team devised a plan for Academic Integrity Week 2021, when they built on their work by utilising both online and on-campus spaces, as well as increasing their physical and digital presence. Their goal was to develop more awareness of, and to encourage conversation between students and staff around, academic integrity.
Initiatives included a digital academic integrity pledge space that both student and staff contributed to; an Instagram campaign where EDTL Interns shared resources and supports developed; and provision of student and staff workshops, co-designed and co-delivered by students and staff. The week culminated with a workshop where students and staff engaged in dialogue about academic integrity.