by Bekah Coşkun, Graduate Assistant for Integrity and Ethics
Upholding academic integrity is a vital component of the educational experience at The University of Arizona. While most students experience their academic careers without incident, some students are found to have violated the Code of Academic Integrity. In an effort to enhance the learning environment on campus by promoting a culture of individual and academic integrity, the Dean of Students Office created and piloted the Academic Integrity and Ethics Workshop in the Fall of 2009, which is an educational sanction option for students found responsible for plagiarism.
The 4-session, 8-hour Workshop is an important option for faculty to sanction students because it creates a safe environment for learning ethics and technical skills regarding writing and avoiding plagiarism. During the course of the Workshop, students are introduced to academic integrity and ethics, are presented with concepts and examples, and have numerous opportunities to put into practice the skills learned throughout the Workshop including chances to practice paraphrasing, summarizing, quoting, and citing.
The Workshop teaches students a skill set to avoid making intentional and/or unintentional mistakes in their future academic and non-academic endeavors; it also presents students a safe place to discuss academic integrity and ethics, receive advice, and ask questions. Many student participants report that the Workshop is the first time they have ever had in-depth discussions about ethics, academic integrity, and/or been presented with the technical skills information.
The success of the Workshop can be seen by the overwhelmingly positive evaluations, both written and verbal, from students indicating that they are learning critical ethical and technical life skills. Many students indicated a disconnect between what they actually know and what faculty assume they know about plagiarism, paraphrasing, summarizing, quotation, and citation. In addition, there are many misguided assumptions made by the students themselves regarding their own skill set prior to coming into the Workshop; many of the students felt they knew everything regarding technical skills and found out that much of this knowledge was incorrect.
These findings further indicate that the Workshop is often the only place these students have to receive and practice these types of skills. The instructors of the Workshop teach the students how to create open lines of communication with their instructors, to never make assumptions, and how to avoid any types of grey areas surrounding plagiarism. Students are taught to always err on the side of caution and to ask questions if anything is unclear to them. Upon completion of the Workshop, the students feel better prepared to have positive academic experiences and feel more confident in their ability to utilize resources and avoid academic dishonesty in the future.
The overall goal of the Academic Integrity Workshop is to facilitate students to become independent learners and prevent repeat violations of the Code of Academic Integrity. By providing students with the resources needed to be successful and ethical members of the University of Arizona community, the Dean of Students Office hopes to change the culture around academic integrity to one that promotes prevention, open and honest discussion about academic integrity, and the enhancement of the crucial technical skills that are essential to being productive students.