I am very grateful to teach in an environment where Academic Integrity (AI) is very much valued. We all agree that it is a lot more effective and rewarding to teach what AI is all about. It is a win-win situation for all. Students are empowered and produce work that is truly their own, they learn by doing so, and they can be proud of their accomplishments. Humber sends out top-notch graduates and industry appreciates them. And by extension, these wonderful young people contribute to shaping our society.
It is a great privilege for me to serve on the School of HRT's Academic Integrity Committee and contribute to educating and inspiring students, faculty and staff alike to all be on the same page. I believe that teaching all of us the art of upholding AI is the best way to ensure that we can maintain a high standard.
The downside is when I discover that despite being pro-active, someone still prefers to cut corners. Enforcing AI takes courage and effort. It does not feel good to have to tell someone that a test is a zero, that I am filing a report, and that this may potentially end up on someone's transcript. But it needs to be done, and I refuse to pretend that it's not happening when it does.
I use turnitin.com religiously on all assignments. I set up my classroom meticulously before a test, including seating arrangements. And I try to create evaluation methods that make sense to students. If they see the value and the purpose, they put more effort into completing assignments.
The method is new, and not too many people are using it, yet. However, I cannot speak highly enough of the positive effects. Allow me to convince you!
What is it?
Two students write a test together. They submit one test/scantron. They receive the same mark.
What are the benefits?
Learning deepens as they discuss tasks and find the answer together. Stress levels are way down. And breaches of AI are no longer much of a concern!!
Do they get much better marks?
No, not really. Maybe a couple of percent more, but that's mainly due to stress reduction. Someone who is a high achiever will likely not partner up with someone who barely passes the course.
What if one is not happy with the mark and blames the other?
They have to submit a written contract before the test starts. In it, they confirm that they understand that the mark is not disputable.
Must everybody team test?
No. If you feel more confident writing the test on your own, you can.
Isn't the classroom really noisy?
The team testers sit in the front of the room. Only truly whispering is allowed. The individual writers are in the back. If a team is loud, they get one warning, after that they get separated. The classroom has always been just as quiet, and I never had any issues.
What if one student does all the work and the other just sits there?
If that is the case, the team will be separated. One of the stipulations in the team testing contract deals with this issue.
Does it work in every course?
No. It only works if concepts have to be explored, and critical thinking applied. Complex M/C questions are a good option, and short answer or essay questions. Simple M/C are better left for standard testing.