Plagiarism Needs Constant Attention

Later this week, Kelly, PACE’s academic advisor, and I will be attending an inter institution session on academic integrity, I will share the information we gather there in a later post.  It is evident from talking with members of other institutions that academic integrity is an issue at every post-secondary institution.

Instructors should be mindful of reminding students of the expectations and rules in their classroom.  Plagiarism is not allowed; as we’ve discussed, it can’t even be marked. For many students, however, they struggle to understand what is meant by plagiarism.  At the start of every course, it is worth the time to remind students of the academic integrity policy, and the expectations around behaviour.  It may mean that you have to give examples of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

Recently I came across a piece from another institution where the instructors outline, in writing, information for students on what they can / cannot do in preparing assignments.  It gave the students explicit instructions on how they could gather information in the form of using the internet, resource materials allowed, and speaking to other students, including former students.

The instructions were explicit however, that in preparing their assignment responses, students could not read each other’s papers or read the papers of former students.  They could discuss verbally, but not read, if they did so, the instructions were adamant that this would be viewed as a breach of the academic integrity rules.

Conversely, in another course, the instructor not only wanted the students to discuss the work, but to do peer editing.  That again was built into the course instructions and reflected in the evaluations; students were graded on the feedback quality they provided their peers.

I found this an interesting approach to the issue of what is okay within a class.  The instructions for the course explicitly state what is okay for this course with this instructor.  In the past, I have had students ask the question about looking at classmate’s work, and going forward I’m going to adopt this approach in my classes.

Academic Integrity Conference

The University of Manitoba is hosting a one day inter-institution conference on academic integrity.

With a variety of topics, the June 2 event is of interest to instructors, administrative staff, and support staff.

PACE instructors may want to consider attending all or a portion of the free event to hear some of the strategies for combating academic integrity and also some of the challenges students face that result in making mistakes or poor decisions around academic integrity.

More details can be found here:


Principles of Learning

Thanks to all who attended today’s professional development session.  As mentioned, the slides are posted to the Instructor Communication Portal on Nexus, under 2017 Professional Development Sessions.

I mentioned briefly at the beginning of the presentation the learning principle “transference”.  I first came across that concept while taking an HR management course using the textbook “Canadian Human Resource Management: A Strategic Approach” by Schwind, Das and Wagar.  (Mine was the 7th edition, I’m sure it’s progressed since then).

The textbook presented five learning principles that should be built into every learning experience:

  • Participation
  • Repetition
  • Relevance
  • Transference
  • Feedback

These principles stuck with me and I’ve always tried to address them in planning out my lessons, and to some extent, my assessment tools as well.

The principle of participation holds that students learn faster and retain the material longer when they are active in the classroom.

Repetition holds that material needs to be repeated in order for a learner to retain teaching points.

The principle of relevance holds that students will learn material better if they understand at the outset what the purpose of the teaching is.  For assessments, this links to the learning objectives; questions should be relevant to the learning outcomes.

Transference holds that students apply training concepts and exercises better on return or entry to the workplace when the training environment mirrors the workplace as much as possible; transferring the learning from the classroom to the office.  Relating this to assessments, I try to frame questions in the context of work, where appropriate.

The last principle, feedback, holds that learners need progress reports to know that they are learning the material correctly, or where they need to spend more time.  Going beyond the learner, feedback is also a good gauge for the instructor to see how they are doing in delivering the material.

Building all five of these principles into a class session is important piece for an instructor.  The goal of any course or training session is to help the student achieve the learning outcomes.  Having these principles as a part of the daily lesson will aid in that.

Professional Development Session

The next professional development session for PACE instructors is this Tuesday, May 9 from 12 to 1 in room 2BC50.

Contact Instructor Support if you haven’t already sign up.

It’s a great opportunity to meet a number of the PACE staff and interact with other instructors.

Hope to see you there!