On the 11th October the Centre for Lifelong Learning hosted a ‘packed and lively’ lunchtime symposium on the Academic Integrity Policy. The event was designed both to support staff who have a role in learning and assessment in implementing the Policy and to gain feedback on the Policy to inform any refinements.
Described by Warren Barr of the Liverpool Law School as “radically different”, the new Policy aims to shift the focus more on to supporting students master good academic practices and learn from their mistakes, rather than simply punish students for failure to comply with the requirements. Introducing the session, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Kelvin Everest explained why changes are necessary, highlighting, in particular, the increasing diversity of the student body and the numbers of students entering university without the experience or understanding of the norms of sound academic practice.
It was also acknowledged that making changes is not a straightforward endeavour and not without its controversies. Warren, who is Faculty Lead for Humanities and Social Sciences (Student Experience and Curriculum Quality), outlined the five categories contained within the Policy and explained the important distinction between Poor Academic Practice (categories A and B) and Unfair and Dishonest Academic Practice (categories C, D & E). Staff were then shown how to use the Policy based on the category of behaviour identified.
This was followed by a demonstration by Sarra Saffron Powell (Education Development) of the online tutorial support which forms a key component of the new approach. Two tutorials have been developed which vary in tone to reflect the seriousness of the breaches of integrity exhibited by a student (one ‘soft’, one ‘hard’) and makes use of an online character Jed to help students understand academic integrity and direct them to relevant skills tutorials in the hugely successful University resource iLearn.
Over lunch, symposium participants were invited to apply the Policy by considering a number of real life case studies in small groups and reach judgements as to what courses of action to take. While the outcomes of these discussions helped staff to interpret the Policy they also revealed a number of issues, particularly with some Policy wording which was raised during a plenary session. This feedback is hugely important in helping to hone the Policy. A follow up event will be hosted later in the academic year to capture experiences of using the Policy in practice.
Dr Stuart McGugan