Integrity group proposes change

March 04, 2004, vol. 29, no. 5
By Jim Lyon

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SFU's task force on academic honesty and integrity makes 21 recommendations to “create a more dynamic culture of academic integrity,” in a recently released report.

The report says “academic dishonesty is a serious issue for SFU and the university can do more to deter, detect, and discipline offenders and to promote academic honesty and integrity through education.”

It concludes that SFU's problems are similar to those at other institutions in Canada and the U.S. But it adds: “The responses to these problems, however, are specific to SFU.”

The task force was guided by two closely related principles: the need for both education and discipline and the need for a level playing field.

The report states: “Students must know how to do honest academic work and why academic integrity is important. Some, but not all students, come to university with this understanding. [Others] need the opportunity to develop it. Part of the learning required can be achieved through education while the rest can be promoted by studying in an environment in which those who engage in academic dishonesty are consistently caught and disciplined in ways that involve clear rules, procedures, and due process.”

A third principle calls for the involvement of everyone at the university promoting and maintaining a strong culture of academic honesty and integrity.

Some of its recommendations include:

• Assign someone the fulltime task of promoting academic honesty and integrity.

• Establish a committee to oversee the promotion of academic honesty and integrity.

• Require that all course outlines include an academic honesty statement that includes guidelines for assignments.

• Assign someone fulltime as an academic conduct resource person who would also be responsible for handling suspected cases of academic dishonesty to ensure they are handled consistently, fairly, and in a timely manner.

• Establish an online bank of past exams as one of the services provided by the library.

• Create a policy that establishes standards and procedures for examinations.

• Establish an academic learning centre for the Burnaby campus and accommodate the needs of students at Harbour Centre and Surrey campuses.

• Create an online module on plagiarism that includes a self-test and is readily accessible to students.

• Introduce writing-intensive courses within disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts at the first-year level designed to help students develop academic literacy while engaging with intellectually challenging texts.

• Ensure graduate students have effective access to their supervisors and the SFU guidelines for supervisor/graduate relations are discussed early in a student's graduate program.

See full report at academic honesty.

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