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Nearly 400 registrants across 39 countries joined Maintaining a culture of academic integrity and validating student achievement on Thursday, February 24, 2022. The webinar was hosted by The PIE and featured panelists from Rosedale International Education, the International Center for Academic Integrity, the University of Waterloo, King’s College London, and Cognita Schools. 

Hosted by Amy Baker, CEO of The PIE, the webinar themes included the current state of academic integrity and its interconnectedness between high school and higher education, as well as current trends and frameworks. Panelists included: 

  • Amanda McKenzie, Board of Directors at International Center for Academic Integrity, USA and Director of Quality Assurance (Academic Programs) in the Office of Academic Integrity at University of Waterloo, Canada 
  • Dr. Eleanor Parker, Head of Learning Development at King’s College London, UK 
  • Neil Herrington, Head of International Recruitment at Cognita Schools, Europe 
  • Nathalie Rudner, Director of Academics at Rosedale International Education, Canada 

Creating an educational environment with academic integrity at the core requires the discussion around academic integrity to be transparent, while also looking at your internal practices and generating opportunities for conversations across all staff and student levels. When panelists were asked if they felt academic integrity is widely discussed within the education sector, or if it has become a more prevalent topic due to the pandemic, Amanda McKenzie says the pandemic created more dialogue around academic integrity at all levels and built critical awareness, while also exposing gaps in the education system around teaching and assessment. “In the past, people would only talk about academic integrity if there was a cheating scandal. And I’m much happier now to have broader conversations about how it’s a foundational element, and how we all need to work to raise awareness on our campuses and in our institutions to maintain that culture of integrity,” says McKenzie. 

We know that academic integrity is not limited to higher education, and early intervention and preparation is critical to learners as they move from high school to higher education. Nathalie Rudner believes the importance of a strong high school curriculum, particularly in assessment and evaluation, supports academic integrity and prepares students with a growth mindset around integrity in all they take on. With differentiated assessments and diverse evaluations, students demonstrate their learned skills and development—and they become much more connected to their work. Providing these opportunities reduces many major concerns that arise in academic integrity—such as improper citing and plagiarizing, and contract cheating—because the student and their unique experiences are at the centre of the work, leading to a personalized educational path.

“The beauty of those types of assessments is that they’re far more interesting for students and I think once you engage students in a more interesting activity they discover their passion and they discover what they really want to do,” says Rudner. 

The pandemic has caused strain on students across the globe and is felt acutely by high school students who are coming into young adulthood while the world is still grappling with the impact of COVID-19. As global educators, we also need to focus on the root cause of what leads students to be unsuccessful or to falter, particularly in the areas of academic integrity. Rudner says, “When students don’t feel they’ve developed the proper skill set, don’t have the right support, and are feeling overwhelmed and just trying to get by—that’s when they tend to struggle academically. Paying attention to, and improving, student mental health and encouraging a growth mindset are both critical for students to be successful and maintain academic integrity.” 

Issues in academic integrity arise for many reasons, and all panelists agreed that typically, students don’t want to make shortcuts, and that honing in on support for student well-being is crucial. Rudner says, “It’s really important as educators that we work as a team to support our students. If they’re engaging in behaviour which we know is not right or they’re doing things that are questionable, we really need to take a step back and look and their mental health. Look at how they’re doing. What else is going on in their world?” 

Echoing this, Dr. Eleanor Parker says, “It’s really important that the policy, the student support, the dialogue with the educators and the curriculum development has to be aligned.” 

A reality of the education sector is that issues in academic integrity will arise, and our response to these sector issues is paramount in how the trustworthiness of an organization is perceived. When the pandemic began, Rosedale was well-equipped to rapidly pivot and provide relief to our community of partner schools, teachers, students and their families, and our students did not miss one day of learning and has continued to steward student success through the fundamental values of academic integrity.