Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SGA Academic Integrity Posters off to Great Start

Over the month of November, students were asked whether or not it is ethical to work together on a take-home exam, as part of the new ethical dilemma poster initiative. The 15 posters displayed around campus attracted an overwhelming number of responses and thought provoking opinions. The results showed that the Hofstra community is generally split down the middle about the topic. A number of students wrote that collaboration is assumed when professors assign a take-home exam and that the student’s resources should not be limited. Many of these students feel that it is more beneficial to the learning experience when working with other students. Others expressed that working together is unethical because a grade for an exam must be the student’s own original, independent work. Yes, students are free to use all resources such as your own notes and research, but this does not include other students. One response questioned the decision of the professor’s decision to assign a take-home exam in the first place. Even if the instructor permits collaboration, it is never ethical to copy someone’s work or let them copy yours.

The SGA and Academic Integrity Task Force will be taking this initiative a step further by hosting student run focus groups on each of the ethical dilemmas at the end of each month. Be on the look out for announcements about them as well as a new dilemma to kickoff the spring semester. It is sure to catch your attention and incite you to join the conversation!

Melanie Rosner, SGA, Chair, Academic Affairs Committee

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is plagiarism and is it always bad?

Malcolm Gladwell argues that since we are all guilty of plagiarism none of us are guilty of plagiarism. Fallacious? You be the judge. Follow this link, then check out Professor Ira Singer's claim that there are fallacies in his arguments.

What is Plagiarism, and Is it Always Bad?

Professor Singer says:
Seems like a fallacy of division followed by a fallacy of composition.

Argument 1:

(1) To reproduce without attribution a substantial piece of writing produced by someone else is plagiarism.
(2) Substantial pieces of writing can be divided into individual words.
Therefore, to reproduce without attribution a word produced by someone else is plagiarism.

Argument 2:

(1) Almost all of the words anyone uses were produced by someone else (or anyway by a long slow cultural process, not by oneself), and people use almost all of these words without attribution. So people plagiarize almost all of the time in their use of individual words; yet people are held blameless for this.
(2) Substantial pieces of writing are composed of words.
(3) Since almost all of the words in each substantial piece of writing are plagiarized, each substantial piece of writing is also plagiarized.
(4) If each act of word-plagiarism is to be held blameless, the composite act of substantial-piece plagiarism is also to be held blameless.
Therefore what's the big deal about plagiarism?

I'll add my own argument, Argument 3: Mandate good, solid critical thinking courses at all levels of education before we are all lost, utterly lost!

Ira Singer, Chair, Department of Philosophy

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cheating Scandal Rocks U of Central Florida

At the University of Central Florida more than 500 students were forced to retake an exam because an answer key had been passed around, ostensibly via social networking sites. Was the response a good one? What about the students who didn't cheat? What would you have done if the answer key had landed in your box? What would you have done if you were the professor, or the University? Check out the story:

Friday, November 5, 2010

SGA Academic Affairs Poses Integrity Dilemmas

The Student Government Association's Academic Affairs Committee recently teamed up with the Academic Integrity Task Force to get students talking about academic integrity. Each month, we come up with an ethical dilemma for students to think about and respond to. They will be featured on posters hanging throughout campus, with pens attached so students can respond immediately while reading the responses of other students. We want students to voice their opinions while hearing what others have to say. It’s all about facilitating conversation.

Our first question asks whether it is ethical to work with another student on a take-home exam. You can see from the picture, of a poster located in the library, that students have a variety of opinions on this one. The posters are located in various academic and residential buildings throughout campus, and have already garnered some great feedback! We’ll be collecting the comments at the end of the month. Add your voice by writing on a poster, or, post a comment here on the AI Blog.

Join the conversation!

Melanie Rosner, Chair, SGA Academic Affairs Committee

Monday, November 1, 2010

CTSE Sponsors Brown Bag Discussion on Academic Integrity

On Wednesday October 27, The Hofstra Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence hosted its second brown bag discussion of Academic Integrity. The conversation focused mainly on what faculty thought were best practices when it came to promoting academic integrity, and whether there was adequate support from among students toward this end. Focusing first on the University's mission, it was affirmed that despite recent word changes, Hofstra still takes "cultivating students' ethical and social responsibility" to be a core educational goal. Still, there was also consensus that among some students the "case for integrity" still had to be made. It is our job to help them see how in their "long-run" interests are ill served by short-term short cuts. As Susan Martin said toward the end of the discussion, we've got to make clear to them that "We are in this thing together. Together we create the atmosphere that makes their education possible. We (both faculty and students) will do what needs to be done to ensure that students graduate with the skills they came to Hofstra seeking. And together, we're not going to allow a few outliers (i.e. those few who cheat regularly) to undermine what we do, or define the Hofstra experience.

Among those at this discussion there was considerable agreement that moving toward a more robust honor code structure, one where students regularly affirmed their commitment to honesty when submitting assignments, would be a reasonable strategy to consider seriously.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

School of Communication Discusses Academic Integrity and Need to Promote Collaborative Learning

In a broad conversation that is part of Hofstra's campus-wide discussion of Academic Integrity, the need to promote collaborative work was front and center. Is that goal in tension with recent calls for greater attention to academic integrity? Some pointed to insights in a video produced by RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) suggesting that traditional educational norms may not be adequate to changing circumstances. In fact, they may even be part of the problem. Watch: RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms
and comment below.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Even South Park!

In this NY Times article we learn that "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker apologized to viewers for having used material from a web video they viewed on the web site “It’s just because we do the show in six days, and we’re stupid and we just threw it together,” Matt Stone, who created “South Park” with Trey Parker, said Friday in a telephone interview. “But in the end, there are some lines that we had to call and apologize for.” (David Itzkoff, NYTimes, 10/22/2010).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Did you take the survey?

If you took the academic integrity survey, what do you think? Did it ask the right questions? Are there things you didn't get to say?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why now?

Letters have gone out to the Hofstra community from President Rabinowitz, Provost Berliner and Vice President for Student Affairs calling for more public conversation at Hofstra about academic integrity? Why now? Has something happened? Do you think it's necessary? Faculty and students, what are you seeing "on the ground?"

President Rabinowitz' Letter to the Hofstra Community

Yesterday in a letter ( to all Hofstra community members President Rabinowitz invited you to enter into a conversation on Academic Integrity at Hofstra. This blog is meant to be a place where students, faculty, and administrators share their thoughts and increase awareness about the problems we face and potential solutions. I guess the first question to ask is:

What is your initial response to the President's call?