Investing in Academic Integrity: The DCU Experience

Academic integrity is defined as “a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values; honesty, trust, fairness, respect responsibility and courage” (Fishman, 2014). It is a concept that has always been important in higher education but in recent years has garnered more attention around the world as institutions report a rise in plagiarism, contract cheating, and other dishonest practices by students and academic staff.

AI Principles

The Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) has been proactive with a strong educational focus on academic integrity as a priority area of work for some time now. Our efforts include commissioning a literature review into the area (Egan, 2018), designing a suite of principles for embedding academic integrity in assessment design, developing and launching an Academic Integrity Hub for DCU staff to learn more about the issues, and running various professional development events internally and externally. Many of the resources were developed primarily as part of an Erasmus+ project and are all available from the INTEGRITY project website under creative commons license.

Introduction to the INTEGRITY project

In October 2019 the TEU ran an academic integrity awareness campaign over the course of a week, based around the International Center for Academic Integrity’s day of action. We repeated it this year, and with the support of DCU Library, Students’ Union, and academic staff, ran an enhanced campaign during 19 – 23 October 2020. This week-long initiative comprised a number of synchronous and asynchronous online events for students and staff to prompt them to think about academic integrity, understand its importance, and learn about how they can uphold it. You can view the full programme on the dedicated section of TEU website. Although in 2019 DCU was the only Irish institution to participate in the day of action, this year there was a greater emphasis across the sector thanks to the work of NAIN, chaired by Billy Kelly, DCU Dean of Teaching and Learning.  

Example student declaration

Some of the highlights of the week include over 1,500 students engaged in both academic integrity and library challenges. Almost 350 students pledged their commitment to academic integrity in the collaborative declaration bank. Some excellent examples of student declarations can also be found on the TEU website. Almost 100 staff and students took part in the spotlight panel webinar to discuss the ethics of academic integrity.

DCU and the TEU team in particular looks forward to continuing the conversation around academic integrity throughout the remainder of the academic year with all of its stakeholders.