Copying and Plagiarism at University

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Copying and plagiarism have always been apparent for various reasons and manifested in many ways.  Reasons can include rote learning via pedagogy versus andragogy, not coping or under time pressure which can lead to short cuts that can be easily identified by software such as Turnitin.

From Henrietta Cook in The Sydney Morning Herald:

How unis can beat the cheats by finding ‘fingerprints’ in their essays.

The tell tale signs of a cheat could be lurking in a comma or a seemingly innocuous double space after a full stop.

As universities grapple with a rise in contract cheating – which involves students outsourcing their assessments – technology is clamping down on the unethical practice by monitoring students’ unique writing styles.

The software, which has been created by US-based company Turnitin and will be launched later this year, is being developed and tested at Australian institutions including Deakin University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Wollongong and the University of Queensland.

Forensic linguists – the experts who scrutinise ransom notes and suspicious wills – helped identify 70 different factors that feed into a person’s unique writing style.

These include the use of commas, parentheses and dashes, how they list examples and whether they double space after a full stop…

…. Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said universities were continually coming up with new ways to detect cheating.

“There’s a clear message to all students in this: if you try to cheat, it’s very likely that you’ll get caught. So just don’t do it.”’

 

Advice for students (and institutions) would be learn how to write academically (should be compulsory in all university foundation and/or bachelor degree programs), plan well with time management to include good research of references or sources, use required referencing system (correctly) included in process of note taking, paraphrasing and synthesis, have draft for checking by lecturers, tutors or learning advisors, for feedback.

Further, institutions could provide a generic TurnitIn point for students to check essay or report drafts and be rewarded for process, as well as grade outcomes.

For more articles and blogs about teaching, learning and assessment click through.

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Soft or Work Skills Development of Students for Employment

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Soft or Work Skill Development

We often hear talk about generic work skills, soft skills or digital related, but what are they and why are they important?

Hard skills may shortlist you for a job interview, but soft skills will have you selected, and may include the following which could also be described as personal attributes or selection criteria:

 

Communication, Organization, Teamwork, Punctuality, Critical Thinking, Social Skills, Creativity, Interpersonal Communication, Adaptability and Friendliness (Berger 2016).

 

According to Harvard Business Review article ‘DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES: The Soft Skills of Great Digital Organizations’:

 

Smart organizations have recognized that introducing new technology into the workplace isn’t about hardware or software: it’s about wetware, also known as human beings. If you want to be the kind of nimble business that can make the most of successive waves of tech innovation, you need human beings who can adapt to change. That means equipping each person in your enterprise with the skills and mindset that will help them successfully adapt whenever you introduce new tools like Slack, Basecamp, or even Google Drive into your workplace. But what exactly are these digital skills? They may be more familiar and low-tech than you think (Samuel 2016).

 

These could include goal focus, collaboration, communication, learning, troubleshooting and enjoyment.

 

Another view from traditional work of soft skills would designate planning workload, communication, reports, presentations, collecting/using information, note taking, data literacy, projects, ethics, problem solving, decision making, team work, meetings, negotiation, stress management and reviewing one’s own personal skills and development (Bingham and Drew 1999).

 

How does one develop these soft or work skills for work, community and life?

 

According to Open Colleges Australia the following tips are needed to teach students soft skills:

30 Tips to Teach Soft Skills

  1. Give students authentic choices about how they’re going to learn and be assessed.
  2. Provide a learning environment where trust, initiative, and taking risks are encouraged.
  3. Hold all students to the same high standards.
  4. Model perseverance by not giving up on students.
  5. Support students by helping them find their own way.
  6. Demonstrate alternate paths to content mastery.
  7. Teach to the whole person (not just the “student”).
  8. Treat your students as mature individuals, even when they aren’t following instructions.
  9. Talk about tailoring communication styles for different audiences.
  10. 1Build students’ interpersonal skills through an environment of humility and respect.
  11. Help students practise taking on different roles in different situations.
  12. Differentiate opportunities for personal growth and opportunities for team growth.
  13. Cultivate a sense of responsibility through meaningful and unique contribution.
  14. Assign group exercises that give people the opportunity to speak, listen, write, organise, and lead.
  15. Assess learning through interactive evaluations that demand real-world demonstrations of learning.
  16. Challenge students’ reactions to new obstacles and situations.
  17. Emphasise that the same solution doesn’t necessarily work every time, even in the same situation.
  18. Incorporate exercises in delayed gratification in order to build persistence and grit.
  19. Start grading students on how well they listen to their peers.
  20. Discuss the importance of social-emotional intelligence in the real world.
  21. Design opportunities for students to build and demonstrate resilience.
  22. Make learning a personal experience, highlighting the way education shapes personality.
  23. Create opportunities for students to innovate, both on their own and in groups.
  24. Draw attention to the differences between online and in-person social etiquette.
  25. Reward students who are willing to admit they’re wrong.
  26. Recognise students who are committed to communicating ideas to others.
  27. Hold brainstorm sessions in which students list the possible uses for various soft skills.
  28. Help build motivation through principles of self-reliance (read: Emerson, Thoreau).
  29. Keep an open ear and encourage students to develop new thoughts and ideas they may have.
  30. Develop learning ability through greater awareness of individual learning processes (Briggs 2015).

 

Teaching, training or tutoring approaches to learning need to be centred upon student centred andragogy for adults not teacher centred pedagogy for children, see related article blog FLIPPED Model – Pedagogy or Andragogy in Higher Education Teaching Learning.

 

 

References:

 

Berger, G 2016, Data Reveals The Most In-demand Soft Skills Among Candidates, LinkedIn Talent Blog, 30 August, viewed 30 March 2018, < https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2016/most-indemand-soft-skills >

 

Bingham, R & Drew, S 1999, Key Work Skills, 1st edn, Gower Publishing Ltd., Aldershot.

 

Briggs, S 2015, 30 Tips to Cultivate Soft Skills in Your Students, Inform Ed – Open Colleges, 1 May, viewed 30 March 2018, < https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/30-ways-to-cultivate-soft-skills-in-your-students >

 

Samuel, A 2016, ‘DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES: The Soft Skills of Great Digital Organizations’, Harvard Business Review, 5 February, viewed 21 March 2018,
< https://hbr.org/2016/02/the-soft-skills-of-great-digital-organizations >

Technology in Higher Education – Innovation Policy – Skills – Digital Literacy

Following is an article by Rogoff in Project Syndicate on the adoption, or not, of technology in universities and higher education whether MOOCS, flipped learning model, online or e-learning etc.

From Project Syndicate:

When Will Tech Disrupt Higher Education?

Feb 5, 2018 KENNETH ROGOFF

Universities pride themselves on producing creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, yet higher-education teaching techniques continue to evolve at a glacial pace. Given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?

CAMBRIDGE – In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the Internet era, an explosion in academic productivity seemed to be around the corner. But the corner never appeared. Instead, teaching techniques at colleges and universities, which pride themselves on spewing out creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, have continued to evolve at a glacial pace.

Sure, PowerPoint presentations have displaced chalkboards, enrolments in “massive open online courses” often exceed 100,000 (though the number of engaged students tends to be much smaller), and “flipped classrooms” replace homework with watching taped lectures, while class time is spent discussing homework exercises. But, given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?…

…Universities and colleges are pivotal to the future of our societies. But, given impressive and ongoing advances in technology and artificial intelligence, it is hard to see how they can continue playing this role without reinventing themselves over the next two decades. Education innovation will disrupt academic employment, but the benefits to jobs everywhere else could be enormous. If there were more disruption within the ivory tower, economies just might become more resilient to disruption outside it.

 

Issues for higher education may emanate from teaching and/or learning tradition or habits, physical size and complexity e.g. silos, self-perception of being leaders not followers, older generations lacking digital literacy making strategic decisions, interests of permanent versus temporary personnel, slow moving and long communication lines both top down vertical, and lateral.

 

Tradition versus Innovation?

 

One could argue that traditional university lectures, religious preaching and political propagation have centred round expert or influencer communicating physically to non-experts in familiar formats that have not been challenged since the time of Gutenberg, duplicator and photocopiers?

 

Further, underlying issue is may be existing personnel, hence processes and systems, preclude taking on new digital technology (optimally) as observed in other sectors due to perceived disruption or lack of encouragement, or even discouragement.

 

Digital or e-Marketing and Communications

 

Marketing and communications in international education was a case in point whereby strategy informed by faculty attendance at international events was replicated in ‘international marketing’ with focus upon events including professional development and networking opportunities, versus marketing grounded in enrolled students on campus (customer journey, relationship management, satisfaction, testimonials, peer influence and word of mouth).

 

Digital or e-marketing arrived by early noughties but at best was used by universities etc. for international marketing as modest ‘budget allocation’ through traditional advertising and promotional channels. Described by some technophobes as something for the domestic ‘web marketing team’ when in fact digital behaviour upends traditional channels requiring bottom up analysis and strategy development, plus KPIs and ROI.

 

Architecture of Higher Education and Policy

 

Another concern with the focus now upon effective, efficient or economic education delivery and digital technology is the specialisation and/or atomisation of those working in all levels of education versus well rounded professionals with skills of content, teaching, learning, design, delivery, assessment, evaluation, administration and technology.

 

Rather than expecting or commissioning sub-contractors to consult with subject matter experts (SMEs), doing ‘instructional design’ (possibly lacking knowledge pedagogy and andragogy), narrow evaluation e.g. of course design only, using doctorate qualified temporary instructors for blended learning or flipped model but lacking skills of teaching; why not multi-skilled educators delivering based upon customer or student learning needs?

VET Vocational Education Training TAFE TAE and Related Issues

Following is an excerpt from a news article and an Education Minister’s press release proposing new source of school teachers while the vocational system is in a state of flux with the sub-optimal TAE Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and quality.

Workplace Training in Australia and the TAE Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Workplace Training in Australia and the TAE Photo by Mikes Photos from Pexels

From tradies to teachers: The plan to ‘shake up Australia’s schools‘.  The Turnbull government wants to encourage tradies to become teachers, and nurses to swap the clinic for the classroom, under a plan to “shake up” the country’s schools.

A national review of teacher registration – to be announced Saturday – will look to streamline the process for becoming a teacher around Australia……

At present, most states require teachers to attain at least a diploma of education, if not an undergraduate teaching degree……..

….Education Minister Simon Birmingham said it should be easier for people with experience in specialist areas to teach those trades at schools and vocational colleges…

…Australia’s falling position on global literacy and numeracy rankings, as well as disappointing NAPLAN results, have worried education ministers around the country.

 

The article does not offer any context or reason for the Minister’s or the government’s ‘plan’?

The Australian Education Council has not made any related public statements, let alone conducted research?

For the government, the Minister and the Education Department’s interest, there TAE40116 – Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is already a pathway for trades and healthcare personnel to teach or train:

Qualification Description

This qualification reflects the roles of individuals delivering training and assessment services in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

This qualification (or the skill sets derived from units of competency within it) is also suitable preparation for those engaged in the delivery of training and assessment of competence in a workplace context, as a component of a structured VET program.

The volume of learning of a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is typically six months to two years.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Achievement of this qualification by trainers is a requirement of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015

 

Further, in a relate article from Jim Munro, CEO of the Resources Training Council ‘The TAE debacle – a resources sector view’:

It is this writer’s opinion, that since BSZ, this program has been slowly hi-jacked by those who have no idea of what happens in the real world of workplace training. It has become a qualification for the training industry, not industry that trains.

 

One has observed in the past generation or two, several significant changes including removal of many technical streams and sometimes active ‘dumbing down’ of high school or matriculation education curricula (lower competency for entry to STEM or university, lack of skills in language, literacy and numeracy LLN, and removal of explicit teaching of ‘critical thinking’), teaching becoming too academic and pedagogic (teacher directed) based, versus andragogic (student centred); overseen by teacher unions, the (hollowed out) bureaucracy, resurgence in old conservative ideas of education and looking down at VET or TAFE.

Appears to be following the US conservative and/or nativist strategy of supporting elite schools and compromising the rest, leading to sub-optimal education and training outcomes in society and employment, exemplified by dumbing down, anti-science sentiment, leveraging or compromising sympathetic paid academia or research for political purposes etc.; leading to or maintaining more compliant, observant and respectful (to authority) society?

Ten years ago, we had John Howard promoting the anti ‘black arm band’ version of history, school chaplain program (outsourced to some dubious US influenced charities), last week the Liberal Opposition in Victoria mooted the idea of police permanently based in schools and now federally the government is planning that ‘tradies’ and ‘nurses’ can transfer into high schools, why do they want this disruption?

It may also follow the nostalgia of work and need to have influence, not just for conservatives of the right, but old ‘culturally specific’ white working-class conservatives in the important upper age median vote, who used to vote Labor?

They could do better by improving the Cert IV qualification or TAE which is seriously flawed due to focus upon narrow training package inputs, and assessment outputs with administration of related process and document management, or Taylor’s ‘Scientific Management’ as used on assembly lines.

However, the TAE ignores or is not fit for purpose when it does not equip trainers with practical skills to deliver quality training and learning, more about leading learners to become robots (workers following instructions) in a system of processes made easier to administer and audit; maybe the intention?

Rather than reinvent the wheel just fix up the existing wheel to offer training or teaching opportunities to ‘tradies’ and nurses, maybe review and improve the career or further study counselling youth receive from teachers, parents and peers, while repairing TAE and VET sector’s reputation?