Another dot in the blogosphere?

Honest to goodness

Posted on: July 28, 2021

Video source

The boys in the video were honest. Kudos to them and their upbringing. But it might be hard to tell if their actions were internally-driven or due to the security camera. I wager the latter given how the older child tried to shutter the store as he left.

I like this distinction between honesty and integrity: Honesty is what you do when someone else is watching; integrity is what you do when no one is.

There is a reason why we call an attribute academic integrity instead of honesty. This trait is obvious only in the privacy of your dorm room or faculty office as you write an essay or draft a research grant.

Universities seem to address cases of academic cheating with reactive measures like PowerPoint slides and quizzes housed in institutional LMS. These check an administrative box, but are not necessarily long term measures.

Why is this the case? Students and faculty take these measures as inconvenient hurdles to clear instead of lifelong skills and attitudes to internalise.

I recall one student a while ago who took one of my Masters courses. He did not do well and was given the opportunity to resubmit the same final assignment the next time my course ran.

His work was riddled with plagiarised text and he was told by administrators to retake the academic integrity module. The value of academic integrity was not internalised before and I still do not know if he learnt anything after. I could not see revised work (if there was any) nor did I have the opportunity to counsel him.

So how might academic integrity be nurtured?

One way is supervisors and instructors who model behaviours when co-writing/editing papers or sharing learning material.

Another way is projecting with students the impact of poor academic integrity. These include, but are not limited to, a lack of trust of academics, not giving credit where it it due, and an erosion of academic culture.

Honesty is easy to see and measure. Integrity is less so but more important because it is about self-regulation.

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