Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Active Learning Activities for Teaching Academic Integrity

Today, someone on the information literacy and instruction listserv asked about some fresh ways to teach or emphasize academic integrity.  Yes, this is a plagiarism discussion.  How can you engage students?  Many instructors dread this topic; typically, it does not generate a lot of excitement in the classroom.  Sometimes students feel accused from the outset in a discussion like this.  Below is a response I shared with the person who asked me:

Admittedly, this might not be innovative or fresh, but I have attached a PowerPoint presentation we show to students.  Each slide asks a question, so when one appears on the slide students are invited to write down their own answer.  Then they are asked to share that answer with a neighbor before talking with the whole class as a group.  This makes it so that the students participate a bit more than when the instructor shows the slide and asks for volunteers to answer.  Freshmen generally speaking do not pipe up to answer, but this may be different in the upper-division courses.

Here's an Academic Integrity Tutorial you may consider using.  If you found some stories or examples of plagiarism, then perhaps you could split the class into groups with some general questions:
  1. How does this story relate to academic integrity issues?
  2. What can we learn from this?
  3. What could they have done differently?
  4. What did they do correctly?
  5. Are there any "gray" areas within the story?  How would your group reconcile these "gray" areas?
  6. What impact does plagiarism or academic dishonesty have on society?  Does your example or story illustrate your point?  How?
After a specified amount of time (maybe 10 minutes), groups could be brought back to tell the rest of the class what was discussed.  Dividing the labor sometimes increases the participation of the group members, so having a spokesperson, a scribe to take notes for the spokesperson, a time keeper to make sure the group stays on task in the allotted time frame, and maybe even a naysayer to play the devil's advocate and/or an agreer to emphasize the best points presented.

In my bookmark account, there are 60 websites tagged with the word plagiarism.  There ought to be a good number of anecdotes, news articles, and websites devoted to plagiarism or academic integrity.

Do you like the questions listed above?  What kinds of questions would you ask?  Would this kind of an activity invite participation?  Could this fly with undergraduate and/or graduate students? 

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