“Have your own ideas! What we want is your vision of things; not someone else’s.” This is the message at the heart of an awareness campaign aimed at college students and developed by a joint task force of the Network of ICT respondents (ITREP Network – Réseau REPTIC) and the Regroupement des bibliothèques collégiales du Québec (REBICQ) [in French].
Academic integrity is an ethical posture, but it is also something that must be learned. Learning how to select reliable sources, learning how to distinguish a quote from a paraphrase, and learning that in both cases, one must cite the sources… To learn all this, students are not alone: there are resources for them in their college!
One of the 3 videos created as part of the academic integrity awareness campaign created jointly by the ITREP and REBICQ networks and the Fédération des cégeps
A task force of librarians and pedagogical counsellors to promote academic integrity
From 2015 to 2021, a joint task force of the ITREP and REBICQ networks worked to value academic integrity. (The ITREP Network and the REBICQ Network are 2 communities of practice managed by the Fédération des cégeps that bring together people from all CEGEPs and private colleges).
A 1st project: a guide on plagiarism and academic integrity
The 1st project of this task force (of which I was a member for a while!) was to produce the Guide to Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism. This guide is intended for teachers, to provide them with training, but also to suggest resources to use with their students.
The next step: educating students
In the fall of 2020, after the publication of the guide and with me in the role of coordinator, the team wanted to take the issue of academic integrity further. The team’s desire was to design an awareness campaign about the importance of academic integrity aimed at college students. (The group chose to focus on academic integrity rather than plagiarism because it is a more positive concept!)
The project was to provide colleges with promotional tools that could raise awareness of academic integrity among students.
Academic integrity: an ethical posture that requires skills
First, the team worked to develop a common definition of academic integrity. Members agreed that academic integrity is an ethical posture that requires skills.
Thus, to have academic integrity, it is not enough to understand that cheating is wrong. One must also have the necessary skills and know-how to not cheat. Among other things, you have to know how to select your sources, know how to cite them and also have the desire to do so. The team therefore wanted the campaign to be an invitation for students to form and inform themselves.
The campaign signals to the student that “What we want is your vision.” When we ask someone who is a college student for their own vision, we agree that this does not mean that this person will revolutionize knowledge about their discipline. However, they will be asked to be knowledgeable about their subject, to be able to defend a documented point of view.
Building on what is already being done in the network – The awareness campaign created by the Cégep de Baie-Comeau
The Commission des affaires pédagogiques (CAP) of the Fédération des cégeps saw the value of our project to coordinate our efforts so that the same message would circulate throughout the college network. They gave us the go-ahead to set up an awareness campaign. However, the team was made up of pedagogical counsellors and librarians, not communications specialists. So, before going any further, we explored the different possibilities that existed. We learned about the remarkable campaign designed by the Cégep de Baie-Comeau for its students [in French], and we were won over by it.
We contacted the Cégep de Baie-Comeau and they generously agreed to share their material with us. We worked with the graphic designer who had designed the original images in Baie-Comeau to produce editable versions that allow each interested institution to customize them by adding their logo or a link to the library page (or another institutional web page designed to support students in their learning of academic integrity).