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An Educative Approach to Academic Integrity at UBC

Transformative Learning | Strategy 15: Student Experience
Theme: Collaboration
Photo credit: Jamil Rhajiak / UBC Brand & Marketing

Integrity is one of UBC’s core values and acting with integrity in taught courses is an essential part of the university experience for all students. The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a renewed discussion at UBC on how we can best integrate and support academic integrity in both online and in-person environments. Recognizing the importance of academic integrity, the university is working towards fostering an educative approach across both campuses that addresses the needs of students, faculty, and staff and promotes ways of integrating academic integrity into the university’s curricula. Efforts are also being undertaken to further awareness around how standards of academic integrity are upheld in the classroom. UBC is committed to strengthening its culture of academic integrity, one that is informed by the university’s strategic commitments around equity, inclusivity, Indigenous rights, and student wellbeing.

At UBC Vancouver, the focus on academic integrity continues through the creation of an Academic Integrity Hub in the Provost’s Office. This Hub, providing focus and resources on the topic, will work across three thematic areas: Institutional Awareness and Commitment, Academic Integrity Education and Academic Misconduct Support. The aim is to offer a holistic approach and establish a central point of action for initiatives and support.

Institutional Awareness and Commitment: This area defines academic integrity and UBC’s commitment in ways that are consistent with the university’s strategic priorities. It emphasizes academic integrity as a shared value and an ongoing responsibility shared by all members of the UBC community.

Academic Integrity Education: A focus on academic integrity education works on supporting students and faculty to make it easier to learn about and practice academic integrity in their academic endeavours at the university.

Academic Misconduct Support: Increasing resources and support for those affected by academic misconduct is a strong priority for the university. UBC is working to establish and promote campus resources for students that enable them to take an educative approach on academic integrity.

Dr. Jaclyn J. Stewart, Associate Dean Academic at the Faculty of Science and co-chair of the Academic Integrity Working Group on the Vancouver campus, says, “UBC’s focus on academic integrity is important since it ensures students are supported to learn about what academic integrity is and why it is important for them, other students, the University, and society. As educators, our first goal is to foster students’ desire to learn. When our course designs and teaching practices support students in developing their own motivation for learning and support their wellbeing, the vast majority work with integrity. UBC’s focus on academic integrity is also supporting instructors and teaching assistants to better understand the role they play in educating students about academic integrity.”

Dr Stewart continues, “UBC’s focus on academic integrity is helping instructors with their role of preventing unintentional breaches of academic integrity that may have occurred because assignment or course policies were unclear or confusing. For example, by meaningfully addressing academic integrity in the course syllabus and in class and by welcoming questions about academic integrity. Additionally, the focus ensures fairness and transparency of policies and procedures so that our educative intention is upheld when breaches of academic integrity occur.”

Photo credit: Martin Dee / UBC Brand & Marketing

The Office of the Ombudsperson for Students plays an important role in supporting students navigate academic integrity at the university with fairness and respect. “While academic integrity is an ethical responsibility that lies with each individual, there is also an institutional responsibility for the university to ensure that students receive clear, accessible and meaningful information about what academic integrity means at UBC and the obligations placed on them,” says Shirley R. Nakata, Ombudsperson for Students. “Fairness for students in this regard requires education, administration, and support in relation to UBC’s academic integrity standards that embed UBC’s strategic commitments to diversity and inclusivity, health and wellbeing, respect, and compassion.  The institution-wide initiative that is underway has created the space and momentum for UBC to shift its way of thinking and enacting academic integrity to a more transformative, inclusive, and restorative approach.”

The Academic Integrity website, dedicated to teaching, promoting, and supporting academic integrity at UBC, has recently been launched. This website aims to open doors to university-wide discussions on academic integrity and deepen the understanding of UBC’s standards.

Through Strategy 15: Student Experience, UBC is working to create opportunities for students to feel more engaged and better supported during their time at UBC—outside as well as inside the classroom, across all our campuses and learning sites.