Academic Integrity: Perceptions and Practices in Secondary School Humanities Classes
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AbstractThis research investigates to what extent, and with what results for classroom practices, Ontario secondary school teachers discuss and uphold academic integrity in humanities classes (English, History and/or Philosophy). It queries how dialogues about plagiarism, one of the most common types of academic dishonesty, are framed, and how assessment practices have been developed in response to this type of academic dishonesty. As supported by interviews carried out for this study, ethical conduct relating to academic work is approached differently across school boards and individual schools, but a common factor is the role professional judgment plays in evaluating violations on a case-by-case basis. Another consistency is the benefit of scaffolding to increase critical thinking and ownership of original work produced in class. In order to protect the integrity of the work submitted by others, the findings of this study reflect literature on this topic. They support the necessity for clearly outlined consequences that are followed through by teachers and administrators. This paper considers how an absence of standardized department responses to plagiarism, as well as academic culture of the school and background of its student population, impacts the tone and frequency of conversations about academic integrity. Attempting to gain insight into the intersection between technology and plagiarism, this study also explores the role of an Internet-based plagiarism prevention service in the broader discussion of morally respectful academic conduct. By reviewing current scholarship and integrating practices and perspectives from six secondary school teachers, this research project presents understandings of academic honesty, along with the challenges, successes and next steps for carrying on the discussion.