Institutionalizing Academic Integrity: The Present Need

Institutionalizing Academic Integrity: The Present Need

Neeta Baporikar (HP-GSB, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1610-1.ch003
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Abstract

Academic dishonesty can come in a variety of forms. Hence, there is a need for academics to stay abreast of the many and varied methods of cheating, and potentially, utilize an array of prevention and detection strategies in ‘combination'. This very dynamics of academic dishonesty, fails the very purpose of education, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and educational systems. If learners engage in academic dishonesty or malpractice either intentionally or unintentionally; it not only retards the learning and development, but more important raises questions on Academic Integrity (AI) of HEIs on which the whole edifice of educational process rests. Through grounded research, an in-depth literature review, deep observation, and being a part of HE for nearly two decades, this chapter delves into the causes of academic dishonesty. The focus is on the need and mechanism to institutionalize polices for AI, which the present hour demands.
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Introduction

[V]an Gelder’s (2005) analogy is not only interesting, but crucial to understanding how Academic Integrity (AI) can be constructed on the edifice of building and developing critical thinking skills. He began by observing that ‘humans are not naturally critical. Indeed, like ballet, critical thinking is a highly contrived activity. Running is natural; nightclub dancing is less so; but ballet is something people can only do well with many years of painful, expensive, dedicated training. Evolution did not intend us to walk on the ends of our toes, and whatever Aristotle may have said, we were not designed to be all that critical either. Evolution does not waste effort making things better than they need to be, and homosapiens evolved to be logical enough to survive, while competitors such as Neanderthals and mastodons died out’ (van Gelder, 2005).

Acquiring good critical thinking skills should be thought of as a lifelong goal through the journey of education (Baporikar, 2010). Given that trajectory, it is unrealistic to expect a lot of progress too quickly or within too short a time. However, the difficulty of both teaching and learning critical thinking skills does not excuse either teachers or students from expending efforts to master this skill (Baporikar, 2016a). Yet, the route to it is through the process of building and developing AI. AI is the moral code or ethical policy of academia. This includes values such as avoidance of cheating or plagiarism, maintenance of academic standards, and honesty and rigour in research and academic publishing (Kirk, 1996). Academic dishonesty is critical for universities, because research indicates that those who cheat in college are more likely to cheat on the job (Swift & Nonis, 1998).

Plagiarism is ‘[t]he use of another writer’s words or ideas without acknowledging the source ‘and is ‘[a]kin to theft’ according to the Harbrace College Handbook1. In Writing with Sources, plagiarism means ‘passing off a source’s information, ideas, or words as your own by omitting to cite them - an act of lying, cheating, and stealing’2. According to Bretag (2012), AI is understood as grounded in action, underpinned by values, multifaceted and applicable to multiple stakeholders, understood by many in terms of what it is not misconduct; and important for HEIs as a means of assuring the quality and credibility of the educational process. Further, enunciated themes to develop a rational understanding of AI include:

  • Academic Practices:

    • o

      Research integrity,

    • o

      Scholarship,

    • o

      Acknowledgments.

  • Complexity:

    • o

      Multi-faceted,

    • o

      Multi-stakeholder.

  • Misconduct:

    • o

      Heating,

    • o

      Collusion,

    • o

      Student misunderstandings,

    • o

      Plagiarism.

  • Quality Assurance:

    • o

      Standards,

    • o

      Accountability,

    • o

      Consistent practice,

    • o

      Reputation.

  • Values:

    • o

      Respect,

    • o

      Responsibility,

    • o

      Equity,

    • o

      Fairness,

    • o

      Honesty,

    • o

      Trust,

    • o

      Authenticity.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge: Awareness and understanding of facts, information, skills which is acquired through experience or education.

Research: Original, careful, critical, disciplined inquiry directed toward the clarification and/or resolution of problems to establish facts, principles or generalize knowledge.

Scholarly Activity: The application of systematic approaches to the development of knowledge through intellectual inquiry and scholarly communication. It includes research, dissemination of knowledge through publications and presentations, application of new knowledge in professional practice, student learning and creative activities designed to further artistic endeavor.

Institution: Where teaching and learning actions are undertaken in which research and scholarly activity is required.

Integrity: Quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; ethical sense of right and wrong.

Ethics: Rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions in academics.

Academic Plan: Academic plan outlines the strategic initiatives that support teaching, research and scholarly activity.

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