Academic Integrity: Urgent and Emerging Topics

This series will deal with timely and emergent topics that are cutting edge, provocative or high profile in nature. The idea is to line up one University of Calgary expert with one external (preferably international) expert to talk offer insights into new areas that educators, policy makers and higher education professionals will want to pay attention to in the coming months and years.

Fall 2021


Contract Cheating in Canada: Exploring Legislative Options

Join us for an introductory discussion about the commercial contract cheating industry (e.g., term paper mills, homework completion services, and paid imposters who take exams on behalf of students). One question people often ask is, “Why aren’t these services illegal?” The short answer is: Academic cheating services are not currently illegal in Canada, but they are in other countries. In this session we’ll provide an overview of which countries have successfully enacted legislation against predatory industry that profits from academic misconduct. We will provide an overview of the legal structures in Canada that might facilitate or present barriers to such legislation being enacted in this country. We do not promise answers or solutions to the complex issue of contract cheating, but instead provide an evidence-base for deeper discussion. 

The intended audience for this session is primarily for those in Canada interested in contract cheating from the Canadian legal context. Participants from other regions are also welcome. 

By the end of this session engaged participants will be able to: 

  • Describe what contract cheating is
  • Understand how legislation against contract cheating has been enacted in other countries
  • Discover legal aspects of contract cheating in Canada and beyond

Facilitators: Alicia Adlington, Dr. Sarah Eaton, PhD
Date: Friday, October 29, 2021 
Time: 10 – 11:30 a.m. 
Location: Online via Zoom  

Please note: Registration will close on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (MT) and a Zoom link for the webinar will be sent the morning of the workshop.

Register now

Academic Integrity and STEM: A Panel Discussion

Although some values of academic integrity such as honesty and fairness are considered universal, the practical aspects of ethics and integrity can look different across the disciplines. Join us for an engaging panel discussion with professors and students about what ethics and integrity mean in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. This will be a real-world discussion about how we practice academic integrity in STEM fields, with considerations about what we are doing right and what we can continue to improve.

By the end of this session engaged participants will be able to:

  • Describe what academic integrity is.
  • Analyze how academic integrity and ethics are applied in STEM fields.
  • Discover practical tips and strategies to promote academic integrity for all students.

Moderator: Dr. Sarah Eaton, PhD
Panelists: Dr. Bronwen Wheatley, PhD, Dr. Nicole Sandblom, PhD, Sean Elliot, Sam Johnson 
Date: Friday, November 19, 2021 
Time: 10 – 11:30 a.m. 
Location: Online via Zoom  

Please note: Registration will close on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (MT) and a Zoom link for the webinar will be sent the morning of the workshop.

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Managing Academic Integrity: Perspectives from Engineering

Academic misconduct is as old as the hills. While it is discouraging to see this behavior, we really should not be too surprised when we discover cases in our classrooms. A lot of research has explored why students cheat, and what instructors can do to reduce instances of misconduct. There has been little discussion, however, on how schools manage academic integrity within their programs and institutions. This webinar will cover academic integrity and misconduct from the lens of an administrator. Institutions have policies and procedures in place to investigate allegations of misconduct, and they also have initiatives to promote integrity among students. Results from a recent survey of engineering schools and engineering regulators will be reviewed, highlighting best practices and areas for improvement.

By the end of this session engaged participants will be able to:

  • Learn about common academic integrity and misconduct management practices
  • Explore opportunities for improvement as instructors and leaders within our programs to better manage and promote academic integrity

Facilitators: Dr. David deMontigny, PhD, Dr. Sarah Eaton, PhD
Date: Friday, December 10, 2021 
Time: 10 – 11:30 a.m. 
Location: Online via Zoom  

Please note: Registration will close on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (MT) and a Zoom link for the webinar will be sent the morning of the workshop.

Register now

Presenter bios

Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Canada where she also serves as the University’s inaugural Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity. An award-winning educator and researcher, Eaton’s work focuses on academic integrity in higher education. Dr. Eaton serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal for Educational Integrity (BMC Springer Nature). She is the author of Plagiarism in Higher Education: Tackling Tough Topics in Academic Integrity.  She is a member of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE) Council. Dr. Eaton is a co-founding member of the Alberta Council on Academic Integrity (Canada) and co-chair of the council’s Contract Cheating Working Group. Dr. Eaton is a member of the European Network for Academic Integrity (ENAI) Policy Working Group and lead a national policy research team in Canada focusing on contract cheating and academic integrity.

Alicia Adlington, MEd, is a second year law student at the University of Calgary, Canada. She served as a program coordinator for the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary prior to commencing her legal studies. Alicia has contributed to several publications on teaching and learning in higher education including two book chapters focused on online learning skill acquisition for graduate students in education. She is interested in the areas of constitutional, criminal, and administrative law. Alicia currently volunteers for the Canadian Bar Association and Student Legal Assistance.

Dr. Bronwen Wheatley, PhD, is currently an instructor for the Natural Sciences Program and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Calgary.  Over the past 10 years, she has taught a variety of courses ranging from upgrading chemistry courses for Continuing Education at the U of C to the capstone course (SCIE 501) for Natural Sciences.  She has grown from implementing strategies designed to decrease cheating during exam-writing to more actively promoting academic integrity as a course learning objective.  She also takes an interest in how academic integrity, intellectual property, and copyright are all involved in course design. 

Nicole Sandblom is a Senior Instructor jointly appointed to the Department of Chemistry and the Natural Sciences Program since 2004. Dr. Sandblom's teaching responsibilities include undergraduate introductory chemistry courses along with the Faculty of Science's writing course. For the Natural Sciences Program, she has taught courses that include students from all disciplines in science. These courses focus on the nature of science as an endeavour, on the impact of science on society, and on the importance of scientific communication. Dr. Sandblom values discussions about academic integrity with students in her class and aims to create assessments that encourage integrity.

Sean Elliot is a MSc student at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Sean began his post-secondary education in Marine Biology at Dalhousie University, before returning to Calgary to pursue a degree in Geology. He graduated from the University of Calgary with a BSc (Honours) degree in 2019, before starting as a graduate student in the fall of the same year. As a MSc student, Sean’s research has been centred on stormwater management in the City of Calgary, with a focus on low impact development systems. During his graduate studies, Sean has also been a teaching assistant for a course that develops skills for reading and writing scientific papers.

Sam Johnson is a MSc student at the University of Calgary, Canada. He completed his undergraduate degree in geology at the University of Alberta before coming to Calgary to work on his master’s degree in hydrogeology. His current work is focused on the impact of urban development on the connection between surface water and groundwater within the City of Calgary. During his time as a graduate student, Sam has also been a teaching assistant for a course designed for science students to learn the fundamentals of reading and writing scientific papers. His role is to interact with students and discuss with them the process of creating a scientific paper, and to provide feedback on student writing.

Dr. David deMontigny, PhD, is the Associate Dean Academic in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Regina.  In this role, he is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct and leading faculty initiatives to promote integrity among students.  David enjoys teaching and mentoring students to achieve their goals.


Past webinars

Winter 2021

This session will bring to fore (OR highlight) the oft-neglected discord between equity and integrity in high-stakes standardized language tests. The equity issues surrounding these so-called standardized language tests can potentially precipitate and predispose academic dishonesty. This presentation will discuss the ramifications of inherent inequities in high stakes language proficiency tests for academic integrity, and will call for a more critical consideration of commercialized high stakes language tests. Redressing equity issues in language assessment can serve to promote academic integrity and reduce academic dishonesty.

Facilitators: Drs. Soroush Sabbaghan, PhD and Ismaeil Fazel, PhD

In this session, we will discuss several quality assurance tools used in Canadian universities and colleges and explore opportunities to leverage them to support academic integrity. Opportunities within cyclical program review, curriculum mapping and educational development, among others, are discussed to highlight opportunities for academic integrity specialists, quality assurance staff, faculty and policy makers to raise academic integrity awareness and weave best practices across an institution. 

Facilitators: Amanda McKenzie and Emma J. Thacker

Natural language processing (NLP) has advanced rapidly in recent years, to the point where algorithms can now generate focused texts that are increasingly indistinguishable from human writing. OpenAI’s Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT-3) has been at the forefront of these developments, with major implications for language-based assessment from K to postgraduate levels. With this technology becoming publically available in January 2021, educators will have to readily confront some difficult realities regarding the assessment and evaluation of critical writing and the nature of both plagiarism and authourship. Beyond GPT-3, there are other text and research generating technologies on the horizon which embolden the impetus for educators and researchers to reconsider the definition of academic integrity.

In this webinar, attendees will explore a short history of text generators, examples of GPT-3 generated texts, and possible ideas and approaches to addressing these technologies practice.

Facilitators: Ryan Morrison and Dr. Michael Mindzak, PhD

Fall 2020

Join Dr. Brenda Stoesz (University of Manitoba) and Josh Seeland (Assiniboine Community College) for an interactive session on academic file-sharing among students. Learn what some of the issues are, and how to address them from an academic integrity perspective.

Understanding the Landscape of Counterfeit Credentials and University Admissions Fraud

Join Jamie Carmichael and Sarah Elaine Eaton for a provocative session about counterfeit credentials such as fake degrees and tampered transcripts. Admissions fraud remains an understudied area of academic integrity and educational ethics. Learn about some of the telltale signs of admissions fraud in higher education.

This session will be of particular interest to those who handle admissions files for post-secondary institutions, including: academic leaders, registrarial staff, administrative staff, and academics who sit on admissions committees. Although this session is framed within the context of Canadian higher education, many of the concepts and tips will likely apply to those in other jurisdictions, as admissions fraud is a global concern.

Best Practices for Teaching and Learning

This session will review inequitable practices related to academic integrity. These practices threaten to undermine the vital work of celebrating and affirming a diverse academic community. This presentation will consider the ramifications for students, teachers, and researchers, and offer research-based solutions to refine current approaches to teaching and upholding academic integrity. 

Facilitator: Dr. Ceceilia Parnther, PhD

Indigenous peoples are diverse distinct nations who carry the knowledge of millennia. As Indigenous peoples we know that knowledge must be authentic, validated, and shared through principled action. Join us as we discuss the paradigms and principles of academic integrity based on the values of our Communities. Providing the philosophical and the practical, this webinar is designed to explore Indigenous approaches to knowledge for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the post-secondary community.

Facilitator: Keeta Gladue

Join Dr. Joel Reardon for insights into the role cryptocurrency plays in the outsourcing of academic work, also known as contract cheating, which is s serious breach of academic integrity. Learn what cryptocurrency is, how it works and how it can be used to purchase assignments, theses and other academic work.