Our students come to University from a variety of backgrounds, and it important to ensure that we cater for a range of understanding as to what is good academic practice.
Here are some suggestions that will help you to engage your students at the right level and to help you understand what might be challenging them.
For a focus on promoting academic integrity through Assessment Designs (PDF, 91.9kB), read this short guide by JISC.
Be clear about what students are expected to do and learn through the course and what is and is not acceptable practice. To what extent are students free to collaborate? How much and what kind of help are they allowed to seek to improve their work? It’s also important to include information on deadlines, the required referencing style and what is expected to achieve certain grades. Make sure they know what good academic practice looks like!
You can help your students enhance their time management skills by monitoring their progress and splitting the task into smaller pieces. Ask them to hand in drafts or frameworks of ideas or a list of literature they have collected and have them write about how they plan to use this literature in their essay. Find a balance between your workload and theirs by asking them to present their work in class and/or submit drafts of their ideas which you can access when they submit their final piece of work. Finally, remind them throughout the semester about the task(s) and your expectations of them and their final piece(s) of work.
When designing your assignment questions, make sure that it allows your students to develop their own thinking, transfer what they have previously learned to a new situation or evaluate contents in a thoughtful way. Ask how the theories they have learned would (or would not) be applicable in real-life situations. Use relevant topics to get the students interested, ask for their experience and allow them to engage by using new, up-to-date data. You might want to consider an issue with more than one answer; this will make it less likely that students will copy from one another and will prompt more discussion on the issue. Show your students how important their views are to you and how much you value original, creative thinking.
Students want to hear about other help that’s on offer. They’re much more likely to act on your professional advice than any posters they see around campus. Be aware of courses and workshops that might be support your student’s development. Get updates on what Student Advice, Language Support and Information Learning Services and the Wellbeing Team can help with. Also, refer them to the students section of the academic integrity website. Pointing students to support services will reduce your workload and will improve students’ skills and their interaction with your course.
Research shows that attention span particularly in lectures is quite short and different students learn in different ways. Where some students may benefit from visual information to support what you say, others might need to work through the contents by engaging with it in more practical ways. By using interactive and diversified methods of teaching, you can extend the attention span of your students and improve learning.
Offer a number of feedback opportunities. Feedback that’s given on final submissions is often not taken into further consideration as students feel like their work is done and there is nothing they can do to change the outcome. Feedback through formative assessment during the course, offers students the chance to improve their skills while they still see it as worthwhile. Make sure to state clearly what must be changed and what could be improved on, acknowledging good academic practice, including writing style and referencing skills. Be clear with students as to how much support they can expect from you while they are completing their assignment.
- Carroll, J. (2007). A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.
- Carroll, J. & Zetterling, C.-M. (2009). Guiding Students Away From Plagiarism (PDF, 0.6MB). Stockholm: KTH Learning Lab Royal technical University.