Thinking Through Citation: Bridging Reading and Writing in SIAT W Courses with an Ethical Research Writing Toolkit

Grant programDewey Fellowship Program

Grant recipient: Chantal Gibson, School of Interactive Arts and Technology

Project team and collaborators: Gabriela Aceves-Sepulveda, Kate Hennessy, Niranjan Rajah, SIAT, Adena Brons, SFU Library, and Mily Mumford, research assistant

Timeframe: May 2019 to August 2020

Funding: $6000

Courses addressed:

  • IAT 103W – Design Communication
  • IAT 206W – Media Across Cultures
  • IAT 309W – Methods for Research Writing

Description: High instances of plagiarism and poor documentation practices have been identified in all three SIAT writing-intensive (W) courses, IAT103W, 206W and 309W. Despite the use of peer reviews, writing workshops, citation checklists, librarian talks and SFU Library Plagiarism Tutorial in first year, upper level writing assignments demonstrate a range of errors from incorrect citation to poor summarizing and paraphrasing. In extreme cases papers are filled with copy and pasted content or completely void of integrated sources. 

We recognize that our SIAT W classrooms are complex and that our students have diverse knowledge, disciplinary and cultural backgrounds. Plagiarism is not simply a case of cheating. It is a reflection of our teaching and a reflection of student skill, knowledge and understanding.

In Fall 2018 SIAT W course instructors met to discuss their concerns and how the courses might better align to support student learning. A major issue for all instructors was that IAT103W and IAT309W are mandatory courses for all SIAT students, while IAT206W was a requirement for art and media stream students and not IT students.  While examining the role of a non-mandatory second year W course, instructors considered the impacts of what appears to be a curricular gap in the program.

After presenting our concerns to the school, in Spring 2019 the SIAT Undergraduate Curriculum Committee voted to make IAT206W a mandatory course for all students and voted to make the courses prerequisites.

This Dewey Fellowship project will investigate whether curricular scaffolding enhances the efficacy of the W Courses and enhances student learning. In addition, it will also consider if a common set of research writing tools-- teaching materials, citation workshop activities and short reading/writing exercises--support student learning and deepen understanding of ethical writing practices.

Questions addressed:

  • Will curricular scaffolding enhance the efficacy of the W Courses and enhance student learning?
  • Can a common set of support materials, teaching tools and short reading/writing exercises support student learning and deepen understanding of ethical writing practices?

Knowledge sharing: Our team will share our project findings with SIAT. We have been tasked to keep the SIAT Undergraduate Curriculum Committee updated during the W course integration process.