Academic Good Practice

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A report based on the Students' Union's Advice Centre research into good academic practice.

Text of Academic Good Practice

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    UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD STUDENTS UNION

    Training for Academic Good Practice:

    Students experiences and levels of confidence in good academic practice

    May 2012

    www.salfordstudents.com

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    Contents Executive Summary ....................................................................................................................................................... 3

    Key findings and recommendations ............................................................................................................................ 3

    Foreword .......................................................................................................................................................................... 4

    Methodology .................................................................................................................................................................... 4

    Limitations ....................................................................................................................................................................... 4

    Findings ........................................................................................................................................................................... 4

    Observations from School Results .............................................................................................................................. 5

    Statistics on Academic Misconduct ............................................................................................................................. 6

    Discussion ....................................................................................................................................................................... 7

    1Conclusions ................................................................................................................................................................... 8

    Appendix 1: Collective Responses from School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work ................................... 9

    Appendix 2: Collective Responses from School of Computing, Science and Engineering .............................. 10

    Appendix 3: Collective Responses from School of Environment and Life Sciences ......................................... 11

    Appendix 4: Collective Responses from School of Health Sciences ................................................................... 12

    Appendix 5: Collective Responses from School of Business ................................................................................ 13

    Appendix 6: Collective Responses from School of Media, Music and Performance ......................................... 14

    Appendix 7: Collective Responses from School of Art and Design ...................................................................... 15

    Appendix 8: Collective Responses from School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences ................. 16

    Appendix 9: Collective Responses from School of Built Environment ................................................................. 17

    Appendix 10: Collective Responses from School of Law....................................................................................... 18

    Appendix 11: School response: Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work ................................................................ 19

    Appendix 12: School response: Health Sciences .................................................................................................. 20

    Appendix 13: School response: Media Music and Performance ......................................................................... 21

    Appendix 14: School response: Environment and Life Sciences ........................................................................ 22

    Appendix 15: School response: Business ............................................................................................................... 23

    Appendix 16: School response: Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences ................................................ 24

    Appendix 17: AMP Statistics ..................................................................................................................................... 25

    Appendix 18: AMP penalties ...................................................................................................................................... 26

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    1. Executive Summary

    1.1 In the academic year 2010/11 the Students Union published a campaign document entitled The Salford Bill of Students Rights. The document outlined recommendations in areas related to teaching and learning, and formed the basis of an ongoing campaign to lobby for the adoption of these recommendations.

    1.2 One of the seven areas was that of academic good practice, and the need to improve both the quality and frequency of training for students in this area. The Bills recommendations were:

    I. Every course at both undergraduate and postgraduate level should incorporate compulsory

    teaching on academic good practice, academic misconduct and the on-line submission tool Turnitin. This should constitute an important part of term time teaching and not just part of an induction week.

    II. All students should be given feedback on their style of referencing as well as the content of assessments, and where possible they should be assessed on their knowledge of academic good practice.

    III. All staff should have a clear and consistent message of what constitutes academic good practice. 1.3 In order to determine how far the Universitys schools have attempted to meet these recommendations,

    a temperature check of student opinion was required. This report summarises the findings of a Students Union survey conducted between December 2011 and March 2012. The survey was designed to determine student knowledge and confidence of academic good practice, and specifically to investigate the levels of support and training received by students in all ten of the Universitys schools.

    1.4 Recommendations listed below are as a result of this survey and are designed to complement rather that supersede the recommendations of The Salford Bill of Students Rights, which remains the Unions core campaign document.

    2. Key findings and recommendations 2.1 Students at the University of Salford are fairly well aware of academic good practice and the penalties

    for academic misconduct. Schools have clearly worked towards a healthy policy of deterrence rather than punishment and this is beginning to show in the number of cases coming to AMP hearings.

    2.2 Awareness training of academic good conduct needs to be a constant activity. It should not be left at one point in the academic year. Students are even more likely to commit academic misconduct in their second or third years (rather than their first) as the pressure intensifies and work becomes more difficult. Schools should consider changes to their current provision to ensure an integrated, ongoing approach, including reminders before key submission dates/exams.

    2.3 The written guidelines for academic misconduct are up to date and appear easy to understand.

    However, there is scope for improvement in the explanations of collusion and falsifying experimental or investigative results and it would be worth including examples of acceptable and unacceptable practices and behaviours in these areas. The definition of plagiarism could also include a sentence about self-plagiarism.

    2.4 Schools need to vary the ways and format through which students are trained and are made

    aware of academic good practice. Relying on one or two written mediums is unlikely to be sufficient. The short online tutorials/quizzes/anti-plagiarism games available on Blackboard and through the Library website rely on self tuition. As such, a more integrated approach whereby quizzes, etc. are written into scheduled tutorials or workshops would be more effective. In addition it would help if these aids were drawn to students attention as a fun way to encourage good practice.

    2.5 Schools with relatively large intakes of international students both at undergraduate and postgraduate

    level should look at more effective ways of ensuring such students understand what academic good conduct involves and are given the support to develop these good practices. Simple language and worked examples will help to get the message across.

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    3. Foreword

    3.1 The surveys aims were to determine answers to the following questions:

    I. Were Schools doing enough to develop students understanding of plagiarism through subject

    based exercises and discussion? II. Was this being done on an on-going basis or only at induction? III. Did students feel they had sufficient guidance on referencing in written work? IV. How accessible are the materials/literature on academic good practice?

    An online questionnaire was developed to which students were invited to answer.

    4. Methodology

    4.1 A pilot study phase was undertaken in November 2011. No changes to the survey were made as a

    result of the pilot. In line with other Students Union surveys, a prize draw of 50 voucher was offered to improve response rate.

    4.2 In order to ensure a representative spread of responses, the survey link was emailed to all Student Reps known to the Students Union (approx. 700). Reps were asked to complete the survey themselves and forward to others in their classes. Responses to this round of invitations were insufficient. A second invitation was sent out in January