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Academic integrity toolkit

Introduction

Academic integrity is integral to preserving the reputation of Australia’s higher education sector and protecting student interests.

In recent years, increasing threats to academic integrity within the sector have emerged due to the wide-spread growth of commercial essay services and attempts by criminal actors to entice students into deceptive or fraudulent activity.

To combat this threat, TEQSA commissioned a group of scholars to share research, develop and deliver a suite of workshops and create a toolkit to assist integrity practitioners with promoting academic integrity and addressing contract cheating within their institutions.

This initiative was funded by the Australian Government and the workshop materials and toolkit can be accessed below.

Academic Integrity Toolkit button

Good practice in academic integrity encountered by the team during the workshops

Tracey Bretag, Guy Curtis, Christine Slade, Margot McNeill

In delivering the workshops around Australia, the team were delighted to see many examples of good practice in academic integrity that already exist in universities and independent higher education providers. Overall, we were impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of professionals across the country who have a keen and abiding interest in ensuring academic integrity. In addition, an overarching theme everywhere was the focus on education as a goal, a value, and a guiding principle. The 'heart of the educator' shone through in workshop participants’ concentration on helping students learn how to make good ethical decisions and in taking an educative, rather than punitive, approach to dealing with academic integrity breaches. 

Within the workshops, we presented a range of good practice examples from various higher education institutions across Australia, including Griffith, Curtin, UniSA, Monash, and UWA. Through presenting the workshops we came to learn of many more specific examples of good practice. These are too numerous to list, however, some highlights included:

  1. Organisational structures to promote a sustainable and scalable approach to academic integrity. For example, the University of Newcastle have a tiered structure of academic integrity officers who shared practice between themselves
  2. Excellent work being done at UNSW to address the threat of contract cheating, with real resources allocated to a central unit with trained investigators and decision-makers
  3. Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) excellent and informative academic integrity resources that were co-produced with students. Many highlights of good practice have been shared by their creators or custodians in the case studies available in the academic integrity toolkit. 

The materials developed for, and included in, the toolkit were also informed by the expressed needs of workshop participants. Many of the participants in the workshops told members of the team that the following resources would be particularly valuable: summary guidance on how to detect contract cheating, the option to re-watch the workshop, access to workshop slides to use in their own in-house training, more examples of good practice, and benchmarking resources to ensure HESF compliance regarding academic integrity. 

As well as the good practice that we encountered, we also undertook an analysis of the learning that workshop participants gained. In short, participants significantly increased their awareness of academic integrity issues and information as a result of attending the workshops. We have prepared a detailed report of this analysis for submission to Higher Education Research and Development, and subject to the outcome of the peer review process, anticipate publication in late 2020. 

Acknowledgements

Project team

Photo of Tracey Bretag Professor Tracey Bretag
University of South Australia
Photo of Guy Curtis Dr Guy Curtis
The University of Western Australia
Photo of Margot McNeill Dr Margot McNeill
International College of Management Sydney
Photo of Christine Slade Dr Christine Slade
The University of Queensland
AQA logo Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities
NZQA logo New Zealand Qualifications Authority