The 6th International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference: Day Two

6iiPC LogoSee Day One Coverage Here.

As the sun rose in Newcastle, UK (at an uncomfortable 4:15 AM due to how far north the city is) it dawned on the second day of the 6th International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference (6IIPC) and the first full day of events.

Since it was the official start of the conference, the festivities began with Will Murray of Plagiarism Advice led off with a welcome address.

His welcome address aimed to provide a historical context to the conference by discussing the history of plagiarism, starting with the first use of the word plagiarism and working through to the modern day. He then concluded the history lesson by asking a simple question, whether we have lost anything by limiting remixing and adapting of work, a question that was intended as a segue for the first keynote speaker of the day.

Keynote 2 — Toni Sant — Student Online Research and Critical Thinking: Wikipedia in Education

Toni Sant KeynoteThough Toni Sant‘s “day job” is reader in digital curation at the University of Hull’s School of Arts & New Media, he was at the conference representing his part time passion, being the education organizer for Wikimedia UK.

His pitch was fairly straightforward, he felt that the stigma against Wikipedia (and other Wikimedia projects) in education was unfair and that there were many ways in which schools and Wikipedia could work side by side.

He talked a great deal about the various quality control tools that Wikipedia has to prevent poor quality articles from being published including bots that weed out vandalism and a rubric for determining the quality of an article, ranking it from a stub to a featured article. He said that Wikipedia should be trust the same as any other encyclopedia, no more no less, but noted that academia discourages the use of all encyclopedia.

So rather than making the argument that Wikipedia should be an acceptable source, he said the best way for students to use the site was not as a tool to write from, but as one to write to. He encouraged teachers to create programs that had students write articles that met the site’s quality guidelines, saying it would enhance study and critical thinking skills.

He also touted the Wikipedia Education Program, which has been a tool to help educators bring Wikipedia into the classroom. Sant said the first semester was wild success, receiving over 20,000 articles and some 14 million bytes of text when the original goal was just 11 million bytes.

Parallel 1 – Vikki Anderson and Sue Onens – How Do Students Gain an Understanding of Plagiarism and How to Avoid It? A Case Study at a UK University

For the first parallel session of the conference, I opted to listen to Vikki Anderson and Sue Owens discuss a study they had conducted at a university in the UK.

The study involved both interviews with “plagiarism officers”, meaning those in charge of policing plagiarism, sending questionnaires to and students. Some 15 plagiarism officers participated while 450 students answered.

Though there was a lot of interesting findings, the key takeaway was that students need to be reminded of citation practices throughout their time in college, a so-called “drip feed” method of providing information. This is a sharp contrast to how many schools handle the matter, namely by dumping a lot of information about plagiarism on students when they first arrive and never approaching the subject again.

They also found that lectures were more useful than text works, which may or may not be read, and that, while students and officers alike think of plagiarism detection software as a deterrent and as a plagiarism detector, most students wanted access to their originality reports as a form of feedback.

In the end, the duo concluded that here was no need for the school to spend additional resources addressing plagiarism and, instead, should simply refocus some of their ongoing efforts to be more effective.

Parallel 2 Part 1 –
Bruna Abreu – Understanding the Importance of Detection Software to Treat Plagiarism: A Case Involving Two Undergraduate Students
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Bruna Abreu told the tale of two students who were taking a particularly difficult program at her university, Universidade Federeal de Santa Catarina, in Brazil.

On the third activity, she noticed strange similarities between two of the students work and analyzed them farther. Discovering plagiarism, albeit with heavy rewriting, in that work Abreu dug deeper into their previous assignments. There, she found other instances of collusion, all heavily rewritten, that could not have been detected without the aid of a computer.

She then expressed frustration that Brazil in general and her university has no broad plagiarism policy and that there was little support for teachers dealing with plagiarism issues.

Parallel 2 Part 2 – Emma Surman & Teresa Oultram – StudyWrite — an Interactive Resource for Improving Academic Scholarship?

In the second part of the session, Emma Surman and Teresa Oultram took the stage on behalf of them and their two other colleagues that could not make it to unveil StudyWrite, a new interactive resource they have been developing to help teach study skills, including plagiarism avoidance, to students.

StudyWrite is a web-based application that incorporates audio, quizzes and visual feedback to teach students better study skills. It has activities such as drag and drop citation editing, games that ask students to select scenarios that involve plagiarism and more.

So far, only three of the planned six modules are complete, including the plagiarism one. So far, feedback has been extremely positive with 173 students saying it helped their understanding of plagiarism with only 5 saying it did not.

Parallel 3 – Jennifer Schroeder – Survival of the Fittest: Adapting Methodologies for Successful Plagiarism Discussions at the University Level

The next session was one I was chairing so I had additional duties and was a bit more limited in my note taking. That being said, Jennifer Schroeder’s started by calling for a rethinking of the student/teacher/knowledge relationship. That relationship should be one where knowledge is the prey, the student is the predator and the teacher has a symbiotic relationship with the student.

As part of her position, Schroeder runs a program that identifies underprepared students and works to help them by providing them instruction before they arrive at the university. According to her, some 70% of those students are in athletics, which is forcing them to push back the lessons even farther into the summer to avoid scheduling conflicts with practices.

From there, the goal is to help them become better students by teaching them how to write and think. Students read an approachable novel, have discussions and write a paper about it. They then master quoting using song lyrics and generally learn the ins and outs of college work in a safe, non-graded environment.

She also noted that in her dealing with plagiarism, undergraduates are less likely to deny having plagiarized than graduate students as undergrads generally assume that, at their level, plagiarism is not as big of a deal.

Keynote 3 – Tricia Bertram Gallant – Where next? Integrity for the “Real World”

Tricia KeynoteFor the final keynote of the day, Tricia Bertram Gallant took the stage to talk about academic integrity and its role in shaping the lives of students after they leave school.

According to Gallant, we have to stop thinking of academic integrity and academic ethics as being separate from “real world” ethics and integrity. According to her, the desire to cheat and mislead is natural. Thus, it is present in all aspects of life.

According to Gallant, most people base their moral judgments on the outcomes of the action, not the action itself. For example, a speeder who hits and kills a pedestrian is seen as much worse than a speeder who does the exact same thing but hurts no one.

To improve academic integrity instructors have to stop making it out to be separate from real world ethics as that just makes academic integrity seem strange and place the enforcement on following rules rather than making sound ethical judgments.

This can be done by incorporating ethics discussion throughout the education of a student, weaving it into every class and every level as possible. This also has the added benefit of better preparing the students who will not be staying in academia after graduation, which is the vast majority.

Gallant notes that students who cheat and lie through their academic career without being caught are likely to continue doing so when they graduate. However, this approach means that we can’t simply toss out students who make ethical missteps, but rather, such errors have to be made into teachable moments that they can use to learn from.

Gallant believes that, while this shift in thinking may be tough, it could lead to a future of more ethical and honest adults.

Parallel 4 – Jonathan Bailey – Unpredictable and unfair: The Aftermath of Plagiarism

After the last keynote, I gave my presentation. Since I have a lot more that I want to say on this topic than I can put here, suffice to say that the talk went well and I’m very happy with both attendance and feedback.

Expect a full post on this subject shortly.

Bottom Line

All in all, the first full day was a smashing success, including a slew of conversations and ideas that were exchanged with other conference goers during meals, sidelines and elsewhere. As usual, I’ll have a more broad wrap up of what I gleaned and learned after the conference is over, but, as usual for this conference, much of the learning and growth took place outside of the official schedule.

Day two was wonderful but day three, the second fully day, still awaits and, even just looking at the schedule, it’s easy to see that it’s another packed day with a lot to think about.

So stay tuned for tomorrow as I’ll have the happenings from day three and, sometime after that, a more thorough wrap-up of everything that happened.

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