Intellectual Integrity: It Can Be Learned!
Since spring 2015, the community of practice of the Réseau des répondantes et répondants TIC (REPTIC) and the Regroupement des bibliothèques collégiales du Québec (REBICQ) [in Fench] have combined their expertise and strengths to address a growing concern within the college network: preventing plagiarism and promoting intellectual integrity. This collaboration resulted in the Guide to Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism in spring 2020.
To learn more about the work of the REBICQ-REPTIC Committee on Intellectual Integrity, I spoke to:
- Lucie Delhomme, Educational Affairs Counsellor - responsible for REBICQ
- Anne-Frédérique Champoux, Librarian at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf (REBICQ)
- Martin Pelletier, Educational Counsellor at Cégep régional de Lanaudière in Terrebonne (REPTIC)
The increase in plagiarism cases in recent years has made the management of fraudulent evaluation more complex. To counter this growing problem, pedagogical counsellors, librarians and documentation technicians have each created resources for students and teachers.
The REBICQ-REPTIC committee wanted to create a standardized, online digital tool that would propose different courses of action for students and teachers in the college network. This tool can also be used during training sessions on intellectual integrity often given by library staff.
The guide on plagiarism and intellectual integrity: a digital slideshow
Initially, the working committee wanted to create an interactive digital tool. However, as the meetings and working sessions progressed, the idea of an interactive website lost its appeal. Creating a website is one thing but keeping it up to date and functional is another. It soon became clear that the idea of a website would force the committee to focus all its energies on the container and not the content.
The REBICQ-REPTIC working team went back to their original idea: to create a digital resource that is easy to use and adaptable. A PowerPoint slideshow met these criteria. The idea is that the person consulting the guide will easily find the information they are looking for and will be able to use it. In this way, it will become a vehicle for change by promoting intellectual integrity and helping students to adopt good habits when using information.
The simplicity of PowerPoint is, in a way, its strength, as it is a well-known tool and is easy to use. This digital slideshow is the result of a collaborative effort between the REBICQ and REPTIC communities of practice. The pooling of their expertise and resources on plagiarism and intellectual integrity has produced a rich bilingual resource that can be downloaded.
A Guide to Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism
A proactive approach to intellectual integrity
The guide was designed with a proactive approach. Instead of being reactive and cracking down on plagiarism, the idea is to prevent it. To do this:
- First, the REBICQ-REPTIC committee prepared a review of "in-house" resources developed by the college network, through a call to all within the 2 communities of practice, and a detailed search of resources available on the web.
- Then, a careful analysis of all the resources collected was carried out to determine which ones would be most useful for teachers and students.
Taking a practical approach, this guide is a toolkit that puts intellectual integrity first. It suggests resources for both students and teachers to prevent students from plagiarising, whether intentionally or not.
For example, if we as teachers want to reduce the temptation to plagiarise, we need to rethink the assessment to ensure that it evaluates our students' achievement of a specific skill and not their ability to copy and paste. Putting in place simple measures, such as having students complete a questionnaire attesting to the intellectual integrity of their assignment before handing it in, raises awareness of the various types of plagiarism while adopting a benevolent stance.
"Is My Assignment Ready to be Submitted?" decision tree proposed by the Service de développement pédagogique, des programmes et de la recherche du Cégep Marie-Victorin
An editable digital slideshow
One of the key elements of this guide is its Creative Commons licence, which allows teachers to modify it as they wish. This makes the tool flexible, malleable and suitable in any teaching context. The adaptability provided by the CC-BY-NC license allows for full ownership of the tool by both teachers and learners. It can be tailored to your class as desired as long as REPTIC and REBICQ are given credit for the original document. The creation of an open educational resource is a real opportunity to decompartmentalise knowledge and encourage its sharing within the college network and beyond.
The follow-up to the project
This collaboration between 2 communities of practice in the college network only served to highlight the wealth of resources and knowledge that this joint working group was able to pool. The vast project that this committee tackled reinforced the willingness and the importance of collaboration between the various players in the network in order to foster student success. The REBICQ-REPTIC Committee on Intellectual Integrity is still very active and pursues its work in a spirit of continuity. For the winter of 2022, it is preparing an awareness campaign to promote intellectual integrity in all CEGEPs in the province.
I would like to thank Lucie Delhomme, Anne-Frédérique Champoux and Martin Pelletier for taking the time to speak with me and for their collaboration in writing this article.