Connect

The following learning resources focus on connecting academic integrity across the curriculum. Please use the following citation when referring to these resources:

Academic Integrity Standards Project (AISP): Aligning Policy and Practice in Australian Universities (2012). Learning activities, Office for Learning and Teaching Priority Project 2010-2012, http://www.aisp.apfei.edu.au/learning-activities

To most effectively promote academic integrity, connections need to be made for both students and staff. For students, the importance of academic integrity to their studies and their professional life needs to be integrated in their course. For staff, it is important that the connection between their teaching practice and the university's policies and procedures is not just understood, but consistently applied.

"Academic integrity is not a ‘bubble’, something that just happens, it needs to be embedded in every aspect of academic work, from the personal to policy to processes." (HDR student focus group comment, University F: FG6)

Why connect academic integrity across the curriculum?

Often students are expected to understand the principles of academic integrity after being only quickly introduced to it during Orientation, or being asked in their subject guides to read their university's policy. However, just as it takes time to develop sophisticated academic writing, research and referencing skills, it makes sense that academic integrity is incrementally learned across a program or a curriculum. 

Additionally, 'integrity' is very often one of the key graduate qualities or attributes a university expects its students to aquire. This underscores the importance of it being something that needs to be developed in a study program, and demonstrated by students for their future professional practice.

It is therefore important for us to be able to demonstrate how, where and when we have provided students with opportunities to develop and practise their academic integrity.

"As an undergraduate I found that when it was explained to us it was so rushed that the importance of it was missed." (Student focus group comment, University A: FG1).

Connecting many strategies

A thorough approach to academic integrity takes account of the many strategies available to scaffold teaching and learning, rather than considering each stand-alone approach as sufficient.

"Preventative measures are things you build into the curriculum which enable students to understand and take on board the proper way to learn which involves that sort of integrity, with some particular approaches to set out what these academic conventions are." (Senior Academic Managers focus group, University B: FG7)

Mapping academic integrity across a curriculum

The planning of class activities, assessment design and criteria, and feedback can be mapped over three undergraduate years:

  • In first year courses: Introduce:  Academic Integrity as the values which underpin academic work, as avoiding misconduct (cheating, deception) and as raising academic literacy awareness; formative feedback on skills practice (integrity of evidence-based writing practices)
  • In second year courses: Develop: Academic Integrity as research ethics awareness (integrity of data, processes), increasing sophistication of discipline-specific literacy, and developing learner/researcher  autonomy
  • In third year and postgraduate research courses: Develop and consolidate: integrity of data gathering (appropriate sources interpretation, dispassionate, unbiassed), increasing autonomy.

Sustaining academic integrity education

There are good reasons for the integration of academic integrity standards into the curriculum, rather than leaving such a fundamental learning objective to chance:

"For students in medicine, for example, integrity is a really big stick that hangs over them, it is more than just a discussion about plagiarism, they have to consider integrity as they become a doctor." (Staff focus group comment)

The embedding of academic integrity into the curriculum will send a powerful signal about the high value placed by the university on the maintenance of ethical standards and the integrity of research writing, by engaging students in their learning journey from novice and apprentice scholar to graduate and professional.

Suggested activities

The following active learning strategies can be used to engage students in discussions about academic integrity within their subjects, helping them to make connections between the generic advice about academic integrity and what they are expected to do in practice.

A sample approach

Research skill development across the curriculum

Promoting the development of research skills and scholarly writing practices across  the curriculum can be a rewarding  approach to connecting students’ study topics with the demands of academic integrity.

For sustained curriculum development, the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework (Willison & O’Regan 2006 / 2012) at the University of Adelaide is a useful starting point. This framework deals with a complete range of research facets, from collecting information and generating data, to evaluating, organising and synthesising these, analysing and applying new knowledge, and communicating it “with an awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues”.

The realisation of each of these facets is described at various levels of learner autonomy from novices at a high degree of dependence, through increasingly self-directed learning to total learner autonomy.

This RSD framework may be used to guide:

  • curriculum development
  • assessment rubrics
  • feedback design

The most recent version of the RSD framework may be downloaded from the following website, which also contains numerous discipline-specific examples of applications in guiding undergraduate as well as postgraduate study:

Research Skills Development (RSD), University of Adelaide

The RSD framework is an existing tool that can be used to connect academic writing to academic integrity and connect academic integrity across the entire curriculum.