Thursday, March 10, 2022

ICAI 2022

I was going to be exceedingly lazy and not blog about the ICAI 2022 (which is celebrating its 30th year of existence!), but  then I decided that I wanted to rant about one of the talks, so I will try and pull together something on the other talks that I have visited. The conference is being offered online only. It is excellent that the Zoom room chats are left open—we have had some great discussions in parallel with the talks. It will be difficult when we go back to in-person talks to shut up during the talks :) Unfortunately, they are using waiting rooms and this causes quite a number of problems: extra work for the session chairs letting people in, and not letting us speak to each other before the talk begins. For one session the room didn't get opened until a good 6 minutes after it was to start, that was a bit unfortunate. But on the whole, people have got the hang of how to run an online conference, which is great!

I asked an organizer, Camilla J. Roberts, about the numbers. There were 790 registrations (!) from 209 universities in 18 countries: US, Canada, Chile, Australia, UK, Ireland, Germany, UAE, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, Japan, Taiwan, India, South Africa, Columbia, and Egypt! I haven't seen anyone else from Germany here, though. 

Day 1, March 8, 2022

It is International Women's Day and a holiday in Berlin, and there is a horrible war going on in the Ukraine. The latter makes it hard to concentrate, to get into the groove of academic integrity discussions. But there are so many great people here and fantastic discussions going on.

  • The opening was about the past of ICAI (and the next days will be present and future). Tricia Bertram Gallant put together a document about the history:  “It Takes a Village”: The Origins of the International Center for Academic Integrity. Well worth a read!
  • Thomas Lancaster and Prakhar Nagpal spoke about "Are Students Using Homework Help Sites to Breach Academic Integrity?". They scraped 46 million questions asked at the Chegg web site and metadata such as date and time of the question. They wanted to see if they were able to verify a statement that is often heard from such sites: They are there for the 3 am questions students have. From the data that they gleaned, however, it was obvious that the questions were being asked Monday through Thursday during normal working hours in the UK. More were also seen in April and December, typical exam times. The also saw a two-fold jump in the number of questions asked after Covid closed the universities than in the year before. 
  • A panel discussion that surprised me was the one on "Real Life with Academic Integrity Case Management Databases" (the conference web app is a real pain, it won't let me copy the names of the people presenting, so apologies if I misspell your names). Tricia Bertram Gallant moderated presentations from Camilla J. Roberts, Emily C. Perkins, and Christina McGilvray Lane who each use a different computer system for handling academic integrity violation cases. There is not only specialized software for that, there are multiple systems??? We don't even have clear processes at universites in Germany and in the US they not only have people who have jobs dealing with such cases (and working on prevention), but there is a choice of software? And honestly, it makes sense to have a well-formulated email that gets sent to everyone and a good record of all of the documentation sent in. I didn't think to ask how they deal with documenting things like 3D designs. The systems are Macient, Guardian, and Advocate and I forgot to note down which one was used where, sorry. 
  • Blaire Wilson and Christian Moriarty (not that one) spoke about "Writing Academic Integrity Policy: How Justice and Consistency Collide". They have an open-access publication available (Justice and Consistency in Academic Integrity: Philosophical and Practical Considerations in Policy Making) that deals with, among other questions, restorative justice. It really got me thinking about why we punish certain behaviors and in particular, how we deal with mitigating circumstances. It seems everyone has a specific reason for why they did something, and not all of these reasons can be codified in law. So making things consitent can cause unjustness, and making things just keep them from being consistent.

Day 2, March 9, 2022

  • I attended the Canadian Regional Consortium before the conference started. As a Canadian I am interested in what is happening at the various universities. It turned out to be a very wise move, as I got to hear the keynote by Cory Scurr, the Academic Integrity Coordinator at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario [boy, do those names ring a bell! Cousins of my Mom lived in Kitchener]. Cory has developed a Micro-Credential for instructors about academic integrity. They are 6 units of about 6 hours each, 1 hour synchronous discussion and 5 hours of reading/watching videos. The topics were just right for getting deeper into the topic of academic integrity. Half-jokingly someone asked if he would do a train-the-trainer course and start a franchise of the course. I'd sign up in a minute for that and translate the course into German, it is just what is necessary to get instructors aware of problems and solutions!
  • Today the conference opened with ICAI present, or rather, since the move from Clemson University to a non-profit organization. It seemed to me that there was a bit of walking on eggshells going on, not sure what exactly happened. 
  • Mary Davis spoke about "Promoting Inclusive Practice in Academic Integrity". She analyzed many guidance and process documents from UK universities that are used in academic integrity violation cases. The literature has identifed a number of issues:
    • the continued over-representation of students from certain ethnic groups, including international students, in academic conduct investigations (Gray, 2020; Pecorari, 2016); 
    • the opinion of some staff that plagiarism is an international students’ problem (Mott-Smith, Tomaš and Kostka, 2017); 
    • the difficulties some student groups experience with understanding academic conduct regulations and good academic practice (Morris, 2018; Tauginiené et al., 2019);
    • academic literacy teaching being available to some students and not others (Wingate, 2015). 
      • Gray, D. (2020). Closing the black attainment gap on access – Project review 2018-2020. Open University. Available at:
      • Morris, E. (2018). Academic integrity matters: five considerations for addressing contract cheating. International Journal of Educational Integrity, 14(15) Available at
      • Mott-Smith, J., Tomaš, Z. and Kostka, I. (2017). Teaching effective source use. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
      • Pecorari, D. (2016). Plagiarism, international students and the second-language writer. In T. Bretag (Ed.) Handbook of Academic Integrity, pp.537-550. Singapore: Springer.
      • Tauginiené, L., Gaižauskaité, I., Razi, S., Glendinning, I., Sivasubramaniam, S., Marino, F., Cosentino, M., Anohina-Naumeca, A. and Kravjar, J. (2019). Enhancing the taxonomies relating to academic integrity and misconduct. Journal of Academic Ethics, pp.1-17, Available at
      • Wingate, U. (2015). Academic literacy and student diversity: the case for inclusive practice. Bristol: Multilingual Matters
    • I included all the literature here, because this is an important topic. Mary looked for problems with respect to these issues and has formulated recommendations for inclusive academic integrity, which are to be published soon.
  • Sarah Elaine Eaton chaired a panel on "Reconceptualizing Contract Cheating as Part of the Stress Process Model". This was a presentation of sociologists talking about how we process stress and how contract cheating can be seen as a method of alleviating stress. It made me think about all the stress that we produce in education for our students and for us. What can we do to reduce this stress that doesn't result in cheating?
  • Leeanne Morrow and Lee-Ann Penaluna from the University of Calgary presented on "Expanding into the digital: supporting academic integrity using artificial intelligence". I was especially interested to see what type of artificial intelligence they would be using. It turns out, they purchased a bot that jumps at everyone who surfs to their pages at the library and asks if you need help. I personally hate these pesky things, but whatever. They also have a live chat during office hours, so a real human being can answer student questions.
    One thing I must make clear: A chatbot is NOT in any way, shape, or form "artificial intelligence" (as I call it, "magic fairy dust"). It is an algorithm that I have my first-semester programming students program to show them that what we percieve of as being "intelligence" is merely a very simple algorithm. I also want to kindly request that people not anthropomorphisize computers! They do not have a "brain". You do not "feed" them. They don't "answer". They have storage, receive input, and produce output.
    The authors of this research accessed a large amount of questions that students had asked both in live chat and in bot chat and analyzed it. They looked for key words that they felt were related to academic integrity and had a look at how often typical questions were asked and what the bot answered. The bot upon first install traverses their site to parse through the texts that are offered. After looking at the answers given for specific questions, they fine-tuned the system by editing the bot output for certain keywords.
    What really concerned me about this research was that, although it was about academic integrity, there appeared to be no informed consent that was given by the users of the bot to have their conversations stored. Apparantly, the conversations are "anonymous" and given cute names like "Red Squirrel", but the date and time is stored, as most certainly the IP address would also be stored. This is considered identifying information.
    I asked about informed consent and ethics board approval for this research, apparently neither was done. I looked at the bot myself, looking for where I am being informed that what I am typing is being stored and can be used for future research. Since I am in the EU using this system, it must either ask my permission or not permit me to use it.
    Alright, enough bitching. They meant well, but the company that sold this bot to them needs to shape up their advertising language and be open about what they are storing. As long as you are transparent about what you are doing, people have a choice of using the system or not.
  • The day closed with "30 Years of Research & Lessons Learned": David Rettinger and Trician Bertram Gallant decided to put together an issue of the Journal of College and Character on academic integrity. They asked around and got lots of great papers—and realized they were not only over the page count for the issue, they were MASSIVELY over the page count for the issue. So they decided to make a virtue out of necessity and put split the papers between the journal and a book, Cheating Academic Integrity: Lessons from 30 Years of Research, that will appear in June 2022. What a great way to make all these papers available! The authors who were at the conference spoke a bit about what they were writing about. The journal issue is available open-access, so I downloaded all the papers right away, and have the book on order!

Day 3, March 10, 2022

  • I started off visiting the COIN group, Consortium for Online Integrity. I wanted to hear more about how people were doing assessments online. There are a number of universities that swear by remote proctoring, either personal remote proctoring or "AI"-based (remember, the term "artificial intelligence is a synonym for "magic fairy dust") proctoring. I find remote proctoring to be an invasion of privacy and to use algorithms that are heavily biased. People believe that they can "lock down" browsers, but my CS students don't need more than 10 minutes to get out of that. So it doesn't do what people want it to. Don't project what you want onto a software! Software cannot solve social problems.
  • Christian Moriarty moderated a town hall on the future of ICAI. Thomas Lancaster and I had a nice little public disagreement about the use of technology that really lit up the chat :) I believe that academic integrity is a social issue and thus cannot be solved by technology alone, as I just mentioned. We need to focus on pedagogy.
  • Angela Murphy asked in her presentation "The Usage of Remote Proctoring Technologn to Uphold Academic Integrity During a Pandemic": Is there more cheating going on in the pandemic? Many instructors think so, but maybe they just didn't see the cheating that went on before the pandemic! She was very enthusiastic about remote proctoring, but I find it an invasion of privacy and a waste of instructor time reviewing the videos. I personally thnik that we need to focus more on alternative assessments that what we have been doing before. 
  • Kathryn Baron, the host of the podcast, spoke on "Helping journalists inform the public about cheating". She apparently didn't realize who was in the audience, as she spent 15 minutes telling us what we already know in depth: There is a lot of cheating out there. It was a bit disappointing. I already help journalists who contact me by sending them links to sources for what I am saying. And I patiently explain over and over again that we don't know how much plagiarism is out there because we only know what we find, not what we don't find. And yes, there was plagiarism before the Internet. My major problem is that journalists are generally only interested when the person found having submitted a plagiarism is well-known, i.e. a politician. And the universities, well, this picture of a man with his head in the sand rather sums it up. 
  • Unfortunately, the presenters on "Factors impacting academic integrity: a review" didn't show up and didn't let anyone know that they were not coming. So I went to the session by Ide Bagus Siaputra from Indonesia "Transforming modular training into integrated immunization programme for promoting academic integrity: Celebrating 9 Years of progress". He has been instrumental in getting a discussion going about academic integrity in his country and has prepared materials for teachers there.
  • David Rettinger finished up the conference talking about the ICAI/McCabe Survey. I am so glad that Don McCabe's work is continuing! The survey is geared to determine the rates of academic misconduct, assessing the climate of integrity, understanding student perspectives, and providing a benchmark against other institutions. They are starting with a first round in 2022 for ICAI member institutions, currently have 7800 surveys completed. It will be exciting to hear these results! And during the discussion I realized that David and I met years ago [I looked it up: 2012] in Bielefeld, Germany, where Don McCabe was giving a talk after having given a talk in Berlin. I drove Don down and we had very intensive discussion during the drive down.

Whew, it's been an exhausting 3 days, starting so late in the day. But I'm so glad I attended, lots of new ideas and meeting a few new people, if not as many as one meets at in-person conferences. 

Now, hope to see people at the ENAI conference ECAIP 2022 in Porto, Portugal 4-6 May 2022 in real life!