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The ACAI’s Fall 2021 provincial meeting

The ACAI’s Fall 2021 provincial meeting hosted by Mount Royal University (MRU) on September 8, 2021, was an opportunity for the Alberta academic integrity community to come together. Here, participants were able to learn about different student’s perspectives and experiences related to academic integrity and academic misconduct prevention. Moreover, the provincial meeting attendees received news about all three ACAI’s working groups’ purposes and activities and became engaged with the ACAI’s steering committee membership process and the plans for the upcoming Alberta Integrity Week.

With over 50 participants from different institutions across the province of Alberta, Dr. Elizabeth Evans (MRU Provost) opened the meeting and underscored the significance of ACAI’s work and its commitment to academic integrity. Moreover, Dr. Evans recognized academic integrity as a “foundational point in postsecondary education.”

After Dr. Evans’ welcome, the student panel called “What I wish I had known” provided invaluable information and deep insights. In this informal interactive discussion, five students shared their engaging and resonating university experiences of learning with integrity. Some of the top recommendations for other students were to become engaged in APA and MLA workshops early, keep a close relationship with academic advisors, interact with Faculty and peers frequently, avoid self-plagiarism, seek support to develop planning skills, include references immediately when writing papers, and practice active self-care. Drawing from their experiences, students recognized that stress could lead to academic misconduct; therefore, it was vital to identify different supports and strategies in their learning process. The students also shared a critical message aligned to Dr. Evans’s opening, which was that “the best type of learning is from failure.”

ACAI’s working groups presentations followed the student panel. Here, the working groups shared their progress during 2021. For instance, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) group has been working on defining EDI in the context of academic integrity. This group’s members are currently seeking to find a definition that represents different institutions across Alberta. Moreover, they are currently developing an annotated bibliography as a reference resource for the community. The Contract Cheating working group has developed materials (see more on resources) and planned activities for the Alberta Academic Integrity week to advance understanding and advocacy about Contract Cheating. This group is also developing evidence-based strategies using a collaborative approach to build capacity through and across institutions. The most crucial goal of this working group is to push for legislation in Canada concerning Contract Cheating. The third working group, Educational Development, is currently creating practical strategies to build institutional academic integrity cultures. This group has also planned activities for the Alberta Academic Integrity Week this year.

Concerning the steering committee membership process, ACAI also shared information about their current state, goals and offered opportunities to become involved. Here, the steering committee members explained the particularities of ACAI and the opportunities it has opened for them to connect with others. Moreover, an essential ACAI distinction is that all steering committee members are actively involved in the working groups’ leadership.

The last section of the meeting promoted the upcoming Alberta Integrity Week (October 18-22). The Steering committee members shared their enthusiasm and invited the meeting’s participants to stay tuned for more information. Alberta Integrity week’s primary purpose is to promote awareness of academic integrity, and it will be implemented in collaboration with the European Academic Integrity Week, which will elevate this event to become a multi-country initiative (see resources).


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