Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter


FALL 2006

Academic Integrity Tutorial to Pilot This Fall


The Academic Integrity task force will launch a pilot this fall of the new comprehensive online tutorial aimed at instructing students in the effective and responsible use of research information. This initiative, a collaboration among faculty, the University Libraries, and the Connors Family Learning Center, intends to broaden the scope of the integrity issue and view it as an object of intellectual inquiry, focus on the pedagogical dimensions of the question of integrity and make academic integrity a central part of the student culture at Boston College. As task force member Robert Stanton stated, “We want to emphasize the preventative aspect of academic integrity rather than the punitive aspect. If we can institutionalize a discourse of honesty and integrity, we can move the conversation outward from course syllabi and catalog regulations to a shared set of values that all students can participate in.”


Academic IntegrityWith the help of a TAM (Teaching and Mentoring) Grant, the tutorial was designed and the online framework put into place. The initial stages involved planning for the tutorial by gathering information on similar tutorials from other universities and surveying the Boston College faculty (a faculty-wide survey was administered in spring 2005). The faculty who took the survey overwhelmingly supported the creation of a mandatory online tutorial for undergraduate students. Some comments from the anonymous survey included:

“I very much support what you are doing! The issue of academic integrity is much broader than plagiarism.”


“I really think the focus should be on educating students about how to properly acknowledge sources in written work. Some students come to BC woefully under prepared in this area and risk serious violations of the BC policy, in many cases due to their own ignorance.”


“the manner in which texts and information (of all sorts, audio, video…) are now accessible on the Internet has changed the way scholarship is practiced and has touched patterns of teaching and older notions of ‘copyright’ deeply.”

In addition to the survey, the task force conducted focus groups of faculty and students in order to gain valuable input on both the content and design of the tutorial. Faculty from various disciplines provided examples and subject specific cases that were helpful in the development of the content. When the student focus group met, students offered suggestions on how the tutorial should look and feel. The conversation also included their thoughts on how to best help other students with the issue of academic integrity. The student group stated that students often do not realize that violations of academic integrity include more than cheating and that we need to educate students about the databases offered through the University Libraries because some students think everything is available on the Internet. Focus group students also felt that the tutorial should stress the possibility of approaching a professor for help when needed. As one student suggested “tell students if they’re in a real bind and are tempted to cheat, they should come and talk to the teacher.”


Next, the task force determined the overall size and shape of the project. The tutorial incorporates both videos and photographs to enhance its visual appeal. Several faculty on campus volunteered to be captured on video and comment on academic integrity. The task force collaborated with Instructional Design and eTeaching Services as well as Media Technology Services to design the tutorial and incorporate the images.


The one hour tutorial, the primary goal of which is to help students understand the basic rules, begins with an introduction to academic integrity as a cornerstone of good scholarship. Continuing through the tutorial, students will understand the proper way to cite and acknowledge sources with a focus on careful note-taking, paraphrasing and quoting. Next, students will address the ethics of collaborative work and research as well as how to plan for research. The use of scholarly resources is explained and highlighted. Lastly, the tutorial provides links for future reference.


This tutorial strives to give incoming Boston College students a very clear idea about what academic integrity is, how it relates to the work they will be doing at Boston College, and how, armed with a better understanding of what this integrity means, the more closely they will be entering an exciting intellectual conversation during their time at BC. The tutorial culminates by making a connection to professional life. As John McDargh, Associate Professor in the Theology Department, comments in a video clip, “Learning to write and research in ways that honor the codes of academic integrity that you’ll be learning here is not just important for this little world of Boston College. These are important skills of integrity and sharing of writing and researching and publishing that are going to follow you out beyond the walls of this University.”


The pilot phase will be conducted in the fall with an expected launch next year. The pilot phase will test the navigational and functional aspects of the tutorial and evaluate the overall content.


Margaret CohenMargaret Cohen
Head Librarian, Educational Resource Center (ERC)





Task force members include: Margaret Cohen, Head Librarian, Educational Resource Center (ERC), Co-Chair; Ourida Mostefai, Associate Professor, Romance Languages & Literatures, Co-Chair; Sue Barrett, Director, Connors Family Learning Center; Clare Dunsford, Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences; Robert Stanton, Associate Professor, English Department; Ed Tallent, Head of Reference, O’Neill Library.

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