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Workload implications for tutors when investigating suspected plagiarism Oof (Bell 2008)

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1 Workload implications for tutors when investigating suspected plagiarism Oof (Bell 2008)

2 Purpose of case study Target audience: sessional teaching staff/tutors, subject and program coordinators, academic integrity investigation officers Key issue being addressed: the implications on workload for dealing with or managing cases of suspected plagiarism Purpose of the case: Materials and preparation needed to answer case:  copy of university academic integrity policy  copy of the university procedures in relation to breaches of academic integrity policy  casual/sessional staff workload agreement 2 Academic Integrity Standards Project

3 Our research Policy analysis only 39% of policies identified the institution as being responsible for academic integrity Interviews with 28 senior academic integrity stakeholders at 6 Australian universities No. 1 recommendation for good practice:  Provide appropriate and on-going professional development for all staff in relation to academic integrity policy and process. 3 Academic Integrity Standards Project

4 Case Study: Susan Susan is a new tutor/sessional teacher on a casual contract to teach 3 tutorials She has 100 essays to mark in one week She finds 8 essays that she is sure include significant plagiarism. Susan marks and gives feedback for all the essays, but does not give any marks for the suspect essays Instead, she sends these essays to her subject coordinator, with some comments about her concerns about plagiarism 4 Academic Integrity Standards Project

5 Whose responsibility? The subject coordinator says he is shocked by the high number of students plagiarising in Susan’s tutorials. He asks Susan to track down ‘proof’ that each essay contains plagiarism and write reports, which he will then send to the faculty’s plagiarism investigative officer Susan is distressed that she has been regarded to be at fault for not instilling appropriate academic integrity standards in her classes She has already spent more time per suspect essay than any other piece of marking, and knows that it will take her more hours of extra time per essay to trace the sources and write a brief report. 5 Academic Integrity Standards Project

6 Just avoid the problem Susan consults with her fellow tutors. The other tutors say that they have come across similar cases where they are sure a student has plagiarised Knowing how much work it takes to follow up with plagiarism cases, the other tutors say they are used to simply removing marks for poor referencing for individual essays 6 Academic Integrity Standards Project

7 Questions for discussion 1. If you were a tutor in this subject, what would you have done? 2. If tutors are responding inconsistently to breaches of academic integrity, what impact does this have on student perceptions of fairness and, in turn, on their cynicism about higher education more generally? 3. If time to investigate breaches was factored into the workload, what do you think would be the impact on the culture of academic integrity at your university? 4. What is the custom and practice of your academic unit in relation to assembling evidence of suspected plagiarism or other breaches of academic integrity? 5. What does policy say about the responsibilities of casual tutors/subject coordinators in relation to substantiating suspected breaches of academic integrity, particularly plagiarism? 6. What does your university policy and industrial awards say about how requirements for sessional staff workload beyond teaching, meeting, marking and student consultation? How can these be reconciled with one another? Do workload allowances for subject coordinators acknowledge their own ‘academic integrity’ workload? 7. What support is currently available for sessional staff in relation to student assessment in general, and investigating suspected breaches of academic integrity in particular? 7 Academic Integrity Standards Project

8 References and resources Bell, D. (2008).Oof, digital image, by droob, accessed on 29August 2012, This image is used with permission under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Creative Commons License. Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., East, J., Green, M., James, C., McGowan, U., Partridge, L., Walker, R. & Wallace, M. (2011). Academic Integrity Standards: A Preliminary Analysis of the Academic Integrity Policies at Australian Universities, Australian Universities Quality Forum, 29 June-1 July, Melbourne, Australia. Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., James, C., Green, M., East, J., McGowan, U. & Partridge, L. (2011). Core elements of exemplary academic integrity policy in Australian higher education, International Journal for Educational Integrity, Vol 7(2), pp. 3-12, available online: Academic Integrity Standards Project

9 9 For further resources from the Academic Integrity Standards Project, please go to: Support for this project/activity has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License


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