Academic Honesty – The issue
I believe that the issue of a lack of academic honesty is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. However I also see that this is not one dimensional issue where success equates to catching students doing the wrong thing. This issue is far more complicated than that and needs to consider both the driving pressures on students and the lack of support and additional pressures on teachers which causes them to accept transgressions.
Two recent situations which I have observed highlight a number of elements:
1) In a year level discussion group I had to listen to teachers cry out that they felt much of the work produced by certain students was not their own. This clearly highlights an issue of tutors (which in this context is a misuse of the title) completing student assignments so avoiding the issues of plagiarism as would be identified by the school’s use of turnitin.com. Furthermore, even though teachers recognize that the composition was too advanced for the student which they regularly interact with at school, they neither felt they have the time or the support of a rigorous school system to proceed with the issue.
2) In my own final year MYP Science class I uncovered an issue through turnitin.com which identified the replication of a procedure another teacher’s class. As it turned out my discovery was actually only the tip of the iceberg. For what had actually happened was a student had stolen a draft version of a report from his lab partner, he then used a section which he knew his lab partner had further developed (so avoiding being caught in turitin.com) but shared this with a student from another class who thought it was an internet available lab report (yes yet another issue here) and so felt it was acceptable to use. This web of deceit did finally unravel and the unwitting participant work was assessed whilst those students who lacked academic honesty where not. However, the published school procedures where ignored and so the message to the students was muted.
These examples show how a culture of academic dishonesty is prevalent and that teachers are not empowered to take this on. So I want to use make my own classroom a place where the balance is shifted. I have been further inspired by John T. Simpson excellent post “10 ways to cheat proof your classroom”. So over my few blog posts I am going to be honest about where I presently am and try and develop practical methods to take on this issue in my classroom, within my department and perhaps throughout my school.
Over the next few weeks I will be considering how we can insure academic honesty can be maintained in the following assessment situations; test, essay and scientific investigation. With each of these I want to also highlight practice which develops a better understanding of this issue for all.