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Re-Cap of the 2021 Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity

by Margaret Toye, Bow Valley College, ACAI Steering Committee Member

The Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity was hosted by Thompson Rivers University on July 22-23, 2021. The conference was held virtually, and there was no cost to participants. There were 8 sets of concurrent sessions, with 45 sessions overall offered by 107 presenters. Presenters were from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and there were presenters from United Arab Emirates, United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic. The conference was attended by 745 people from those same provinces and countries as well as Ukraine.

Contract cheating was a major topic at the conference, with four presentations on the topic as well as with the closing session on Day 1 being a fascinating presentation by Sarah Elaine Eaton (University of Calgary) on  the history and development of contract cheating in Canada over the last 50 or so years, and the closing session Day 2 being a panel on contract cheating, featuring Sarah Elaine Eaton (University of Calgary), Brenda M. Stoesz (University of Manitoba), Amanda McKenzie (University of Waterloo), Sean Zwagerman (Simon Fraser University), and Dustin Grue (NorQuest College). Discussion of contract cheating throughout the conference showed that it is not just students’ use of essay mills; it includes the use of commercial contract cheating and unethical file-sharing companies that encourage students to share course material, assessment questions and instructions, and notes, often in real-time as students complete exams and other assessments (c.f. Nancy Chibry and Ebba Kurz [University of Calgary]).

Given that the COVID-19 pandemic moved education online around the world in 2020-2021, e-proctoring was a major topic at the conference as well. Discussion of e-proctoring focused on surveillance technology and related student privacy concerns, as well as the technology’s potential for causing students anxiety and for discriminatory flagging of students (c.f. Sarah Elaine Eaton [University of Calgary]) and Ceceilia Parnther [St. John’s University]).

The opening keynote presentation was by Thomas Lancaster (Imperial College London UK) on the power of academic integrity communities, and there were three presentations on cultures of academic integrity. There were 5 presentations on academic integrity policy, 4 on restorative practices, 6 on empowering learners to successfully engage in academic integrity, 3 on assessment design to support academic integrity, 3 on academic integrity in language learning contexts, and 4 that shared specific cases of academic misconduct and 2 that described trends at specific institutions. Among other interesting topics, there was one presentation on decolonizing academic integrity, and one on mental well-being in relation to academic integrity. 

Recordings of the conference presentations are available here:

Author: Sarah Elaine Eaton, Ph.D.

Faculty member, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary - I am passionate about learning, teaching and ethics.

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