The repercussions of ignoring academic misconduct

A lot of discussion around academic misconduct centers on what the student can do better. This ranges from education and awareness to providing training and practice.  A less frequently talked about part of academic misconduct is the instructor side.  Instructors are the first step in addressing misconduct, and one key part is not to ignore it.  Ignoring misconduct has repercussions, not just for that student, or that class, but for the program as a whole.

Recently a student wrote to the PACE Administration frustrated with the seeming ignoring of misconduct. The student is repeating a course because of poor grades and found that students in the class had plagiarized a large portion of their course work, were called out, but were not brought forward.  The student wondered … I do not know which is better, might be it be better to plagiarize than have a good integrity standing, because plagiarizing will make me pass a subject

PACE programs are very tightly knit. Students are with each other every day of every week for months.  We’ve come to see that they know who in their program is doing their own work, who is cutting corners, and who is cheating.

While failing to find misconduct is bad enough, finding misconduct and not addressing it causes issues. It sets an expectation that this behaviour is acceptable, it causes students to question why they should bother following the rules, and lowers the reputation of our program and graduates.

When considering bringing misconduct forward, consider the size and significance of the material copied, where the students are in their program, and the attempt, or lack there of, to cite a source. These factors are a part of teaching students how to write ethically and appropriately.

The PACE program manager or academic manager are always available to provide help and a sounding board. Dealing with misconduct is not something that instructors have to handle alone.

Copyright Audit Update

Earlier this year a communication went out reminding everyone about the University of Winnipeg’s Copyright Policy ( ) and information about the Nexus audit being done by the Copyright office.

The audit is now complete! That’s the good news.

While not really bad news, the flip side to the audit being finished is that a few issues were identified. Instructors who have material that contains uncited materials will be receiving an email directly from the Copyright Office with information on the identified issues and requesting instructors correct the material.

If you need any help, feel free to reach out to me and I will help you through the process.

Remember that links to websites are always better than posting content directly, and any articles or book extracts require the source information.

Lessons for Teachers from the Restaurant World

In January, 2010, Grace Johnson wrote an article for the Teaching Professor called ‘100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do’: Adapted for Teachers. She took 10 items off a list that appeared in a New York Times’ blog about how restaurant staffers should act and converted them as tips for university / college instructors.

When I read over Grace’s list, there were three items she had that leapt off the page for me. These are quoted verbatim as she wrote them:

#1 – Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting. Do not let anyone enter  your classroom without a warm greeting.  Smile, face your students, and make them feel welcome.

#9-Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. You aren’t deliver a soliloquy or auditioning for a part.  Do not lecture too fast or robotically or dramatically.  Teachers shouldn’t be delivering soliloquies.  They aren’t audition.  We are talking to students wo are hearing the topic for the fist tim (OK, maybe the second for those students repeating your class).  Although we have delivered this lecture once or twice each semester for the last 19 years, it needs to be as fresh and interesting as it was the first time we presented it.

#63 – Never blame the chef, the bus boy, the hostess or the weather for anything that goes wrong. Just make it right.  Never blame the registrar’s office, the information technology office, the bookstore, or the department staff assistant for anything that goes wrong.  Just make it right.  Take the needed time to resolve problems or direct students to the person with the power to fix what has gone wrong.

There’s a lot of truth to these and they struck home to me as reminders of our role in the classroom.

If you’d like to read the full article, you can see it here with a subscription to the website:

Building a connection in the classroom

With only six classes, it can be difficult to build a connection with students in our fulltime programs. To make the best use of class time and to enhance learning it’s important to build a connection early with students.

  • Language can be a good way to start that connection. When speaking to the class or writing emails to the group use ‘we’ and ‘us’, instead of ‘you’ and ‘me’. This lets the students know that you are a part of the class as well, and that the next six weeks are about working together.
  • To make the best use of the first day, reach out to the class in advance. Let them know who you are and what your expectations are for the first day. It takes only a few minutes, but that email helps to establish a connection with the class and let them know what you are about.
  • Arrive early for class and greet students. This helps set the tone for what your class will be like: stiff and formal, or more relaxed and interactive. Having an early conversation with a student one on one may help them to speak up in class as the ice will have been broken.
  • Sharing a personal anecdote with the class helps sell the class that you are person just like them, and that you are a part of the group. Of course there needs to be a balance with sharing too much, but a small personal story or insight into who you are can help build a connection.

It’s important to build that connection early on. Being in the class only one day a week for six weeks doesn’t leave a lot of time to waste.  Students will respond to feedback better from instructors where they feel a connection, and will be more engaged in the classroom.