Dr. Donna Velliaris examines ways to amplify student skills for academic success in the HE sector

Guest Blog: Deciphering Academic Code: Academic Language & Learning (ALL) Support Services in HE

By Donna Velliaris on May 17, 2019
With the recent news of the college admissions scandal and universities tweaking their policies and procedures pertaining to academic integrity, misconduct has been underscored in the media on higher education (HE). Experts in HE, including Dr. Donna Velliaris, editor of Prevention and Detection of Academic Misconduct in Higher Education and Study Abroad Contexts for Enhanced Foreign Language Learning, as well as contributor of 30 IGI Global book chapters, dives into a discussion on enhancing Academic Language & Learning (ALL) support services, as beneficial to addressing these issues. Read more about this topic below:

As expressed in the preface of her Handbook of Research on Academic Misconduct in Higher Education, Dr. Velliaris’ involvement and subsequent interest in academic dishonesty or cheating behaviors originated from her former role as an academic advisor—encompassing Academic Integrity Officer (AIO)—at a pre-university pathway institution in Australia. Her forthcoming IGI Global publication titled, Academic Language and Learning Support Services in Higher Education, will focus on the roles, means, and resources used by higher education (HE) support staff and services that encourage heightened student reflection, autonomy, and performance success.

Increasingly, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are assigning persons responsible for issues surrounding Academic Language and Learning (ALL) and Academic Integrity (AI). Successful transition into a new educational environment requires adaptation to the ALL culture of the ‘host’ institution. Intensifying and embedding ALL support persons, programs, and resources are helping to advance HE students’ ability to assimilate and ameliorate issues that may otherwise lead to academic anxiety and withdrawal, particularly at the first-year and undergraduate levels.

Academic Integrity Officers (AIOs)—with many and varied ‘other’ titles as listed below—oversee and facilitate matters pertaining, but not limited to: consistent application of departmental/institutional guidelines on academic conduct; interpretation and implementation of institutional polic(ies); management of reported cases of academic misconduct identified by colleagues; guidelines and supervision of Turnitin; and uniformity of outcomes when misconduct is proven.

Titles for persons in HE responsible for ALL and/or AI (Velliaris & Breen, 2016, p. 577)

  • Academic Conduct Advisor
  • Academic Course Advisor
  • Academic Integrity Coordinator
  • Academic Misconduct Officer
  • Academic Support Advisor
  • Coordinator for Student Conduct
  • Student Academic Conduct Officer
  • Student Advisory Officer
  • Student Success Advisor
  • Academic Conduct Officer
  • Academic Integrity Advisor
  • Academic Integrity Officer
  • Academic Success Coordinator
  • Chief Instructional Officer
  • Learning Advisor
  • Responsible Academic Officer
  • Student Academic Integrity Coordinator
  • Student Learning Advisor

The days when Discipline-Specific Lecturers (DSLs) could justifiably claim to have read all the books/articles written in their field of expertise have long gone. Today, with millions of articles available on the Internet, it is not easy for DSLs to determine how, when, or where a student may have lifted or commissioned material from. Nevertheless, there are those DSLs who: (1) regard the culture inherent in their discipline as apparent and for that reason, expectations about language, learning and assessment, are not explicated; and/or (2) consider their primary concern is that of ‘content’ and not ‘language’ teaching i.e., assisting students linguistically is beyond the scope of their role.

In light of workload demands, DSLs have cause to justify overlooking the additional work involved in providing complex and time-consuming language concentration. Although Electronic Plagiarism Detection (EPD) software helps eliminate much of the ‘practical’ burden of identifying plagiarized sources, the marker remains responsible for interpreting the percentage of text similarity. Yet, EPDs have been criticized for a lack of ‘human judgement’ as the software is unable to discern between intentional (e.g., cutting-and-pasting text, contract paper purchasing) and unintentional (e.g., inept citation, poor paraphrasing technique) misconduct. Still, the function of EPDs is to support the academic who needs to examine the results of originality reports of students’ assessment papers.

Unquestionably, DSLs have ‘the’ central role to play in plagiarism prevention with responsibility to set appropriate assessment tasks that reduce the likelihood of students having the opportunity to engage in misconduct (refer to the IGI Global Newsroom articles, 'To Catch a Cheater', 'Caring or Collusion?' and 'Cheaters Beware: (Re)designing Writing Assessment Tasks', for further information).

DSLs must be ‘hyper-astute’ as they are best placed to identify the word choices and structural features that characterize writing that is acceptable within their discipline. While the DSL is the content specialist, an AIO for example, may be better able to decipher the foreign academic code for students and clearly lay out the necessary steps required to fulfil course requirements. Significantly, they are better positioned to ‘objectively’ compare novice and/or native corpora of academic writing that can allude to non-nativeness, unconventionality, and/or remarkable skill-level in the phraseology of students’ written work e.g., overuse, underuse and/or misuse of certain writing conventions such as frequency, positioning, register, and semantics, that can be observed/scrutinized as an auxiliary to detect misconduct.

Certainly, it seems probable that whatever checks and balances are created, academic misconduct will be present—to some extent—across HE. With an integrated ALL approach, however, HE students can be pushed to the level of writing achievement expected at the tertiary-level with the aid of two professionals; the DSL and AIO, both of whom may work in partnership to defend the academic credibility and reputation of the standards of an award within a HEI.
Velliaris, D. M. & Breen, P. (2016). An institutional three-stage framework: Elevating academic writing and integrity standards of international pathway students. Journal of International Students (JIS), 6(2), pp. 565-587.
We would like to thank Dr. Velliaris for sharing her experience on ALL services within higher education (HE). We hope the discussion will promote further conversations on the topic. Be sure to view her new publication, Prevention and Detection of Academic Misconduct in Higher Education, and recommend this title to your librarian.

Dr. Velliaris's research is available through IGI Global’s InfoSci®-Books, a database of 5,300+ reference books containing over 100,000+ chapters focusing on emerging research. With an annual subscription (2000-2020) price offered as low as US$ 7,088, (one-time perpetual purchase for the current copyright year (2020) offered as low as US$15,375), this database hosts key features such as full-text PDF and HTML format, no DRM, unlimited simultaneous users, and no embargo of content (research is available months in advance of the print release). Spanning across 350+ topics in 11 core subject areas, including business and management, computer science, education, science and engineering, social sciences, and more, this robust research database is ideal for academic and research institutions.

    Additionally, when an institution invests in IGI Global’s InfoSci-Books and InfoSci®-Journals (185+ scholarly journals) databases, they can take advantage of IGI Global’s transformative Open Access (OA) Fee Waiver (Offset Model) Initiative which will provide an additional source of OA article processing charges (APCs) and enable researchers of that institution to have their OA APCs waived when their research is accepted into an IGI Global journal.*

Purchase or recommend IGI Global’s InfoSci-Books to your institution’s librarian.
Find below a sample of related education titles which are also featured in IGI Global’s award-winning InfoSci-Books database and are available for purchase in print and electronic format. Be sure to recommend these titles to your librarian to ensure your institution can acquire the most emerging research. Additionally, for researchers, all of the chapters featured in these publications are available for purchase through IGI Global’s OnDemand feature for as low as US$ 30.

About Dr. Donna Velliaris

Dr. Donna Velliaris  headshotDr. Donna M. Velliaris is currently living and working in Singapore while her two young children attend an international school. A fully qualified [Australia] secondary school educator since 1995, she has a total of 12 officially registered subjects/skills across Grades 8-12. To date, she has taught students from Reception to PhD level and across several continents. Dr. Velliaris holds two Graduate Certificates: (1) Australian Studies; and (2) Religious Education, two Graduate Diplomas: (1) Secondary Education; and (2) Language and Literacy Education, as well as three Master’s degrees: (1) Educational Sociology; (2) Studies of Asia; and (3) Special Education. In 2010, Dr. Velliaris graduated with a PhD in Education focused on the social/educational ecological development of school-aged transnational students in Tokyo, Japan.

Her primary research interests include: human ecology; Third Culture Kids (TCKs); schools as cultural systems; and study abroad. With recent publication of almost 30 book chapters, her titles comprise: Academic reflections: Disciplinary acculturation and the first-year pathway experience in Australia [Garnet]; Conceptualizing four ecological influences on contemporary ‘Third Culture Kids’ [Palgrave Macmillan]; Culturally responsive pathway pedagogues: Respecting the intricacies of student diversity in the classroom [IGI Global]; The other side of the student story: Listening to the voice of the parent [Sense]; and Metaphors for transnational students: A moving experience [Cambridge Scholars].
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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*The Open Access (OA) article processing charges will be waived after the student, faculty, or staff’s paper has been vetted and accepted into an IGI Global journal.
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