With over two decades of experience across varied industry segments, Chaitali Moitra has served at the helm of various organizations and steered institutions to excellence in key success metrics – in both a financial and strategic growth capacity. Chaitali is well recognized as a leader in Business Development, Marketing and Learning. She has served in leadership positions at Genpact, The Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Global University Systems, and Macmillan Education. As the Managing Director of Collins Learning, a division of Harper Collins India, she has worked extensively with the education sector in South Asia. She has mentored students of leading management institutes and is often invited by leading institutes to share her knowledge and experience.
Over the past two years, the education community in India has been navigating through uncertainties caused by the pandemic and challenges posed by the rapid transitioning of learning towards digital platforms. Students and teachers are steadily getting accustomed to remote and hybrid learning environments while relying on technology to resolve core challenges such as delivery of teaching methods and assessments.
Educators have limited interaction with students in the current situation making it difficult for them to consistently keep tabs on how students are getting work done, in turn, creating challenges to determine if academic integrity was compromised and, if so, whether it was done deliberately or inadvertently. Academic integrity is crucial to develop students with critical thinking skills that are essential to their academic performance, and overall development as professionals in their future careers.
Prominent causes of academic dishonesty
There are a handful of factors that drive students to subvert the system. Firstly, the mounting pressure to be accepted in competitive higher learning institutions can force students to attempt shortcuts in their exams. Also, peer and family pressure can create fear of failure and influence students to deviate from the learning process while blinding them to the consequences this could have on their personal and professional growth. A lack of confidence or guidance in fulfilling the work required to obtain relevant grades is also a major cause for students attempting to take the easy way out.
Emerging plagiarism trends
With schools, colleges and universities transitioning towards either fully online or hybrid learning modules, there are numerous challenges to maintaining integrity in the work delivered by students. One of the biggest concerns is plagiarism, which has evolved beyond just copying ideas and pasting them from another source. While many are often unaware of their actions being an act of plagiarism, there are a minority that knowingly do it for any number of reasons. These are some of the new methods of academic misconduct that education professionals need to look out for in the coming year:
Contract cheating – roping in a third party’s service to complete tasks and submitting them as one’s own.
Artificial Intelligence – using AI based tools to complete assignments.
Text manipulation – running third party content through specific software to manipulate text and attempt to mislead plagiarism detection tools.
Source Code plagiarism – the act of copying a source code with no attribution to the creator of the code.
Spyware usage – deploying devices such as earpieces and smartphones, and screen capture software when taking tests.
Additional tutors – discreetly employing an additional tutor to communicate answers during assessments.
Impersonation – engaging someone else to pretend to be themselves to take exams.
Technology is transforming the education landscape like never before, therefore, it is important for educators to establish integrity standards, teach students about what constitutes dishonesty and constantly be vigilant of changing trends to take the necessary steps towards minimising dishonesty.
Cultivate a culture of academic integrity
It is crucial to build a culture of academic integrity to equip educators maximise learning opportunities while developing students towards becoming integrity-driven professionals. For this to work, educators need to assess the landscape of remote learning, the pitfalls that could derail student development, and leverage the right technology based on these gaps.
Advanced tools such as plagiarism detection software, AI enabled assessment platforms to grade assignments and provide feedback, are secure and user-friendly solutions to assist students in avoiding plagiarism in their assignments while enabling educators in detecting content similarity matches, code plagiarism in programming assignments, text manipulations and verifying the originality of work produced by students. These tools also enable educators to gauge and monitor student behavioural patterns, and empower them to mitigate risks effectively.
While learning remotely, establishing a shared definition of academic integrity that cuts across educators, students, administrators and families is beneficial. To have a collectively agreed upon definition will create a path for meaningful steps to be taken to ensure all parties understand the importance and expectations of honesty, fairness and originality from the work produced by students. Once these are achieved, educators can look forward to establishing an institution-wide policy that defines academic integrity and ethics, as well as the type of action that will be taken when misconduct arises.
Enlightening students on the importance of academic integrity and the consequences of dishonesty can significantly help reduce cases of plagiarism. It is important for them to realise that upon graduation from university, they have to bring with them the right values and ethics into their professional work and social lives to become valuable citizens in the community.