Get in touch

Advancing academic integrity through innovation

02 September, 2020 | by Diane Robbie

A complex problem worth solving

The issue of cheating in higher education is not small. Recent data from Australian researchers estimate that between six and 10 per cent of students at Australian universities – or about 150,000 students – have cheated during their studies.

OES’s approach to the issue of cheating in higher education is finding unique and innovative ways to support students in their academic journey.

Encouraging integrity through support

At OES, we have a one stop shop approach to academic integrity. With one team dedicated to conducting all investigations, including interviews and engagement with students, we ensure our approach has remained consistent and ahead of the curve.  As a single academic integrity unit, we are in a unique position to look at cases across different units and disciplines that help us to identify trends that we feed into our work.

OES has built a culture of integrity both at a teacher and student level by helping teaching teams with training and providing quality resources to support students. Teachers are now more attuned to identify red flags in assessments.

When we do confirm a case of cheating, we take an educative approach to resolve the issue with the student. More often than not, a student who engages in these behaviours are in the early stages of their degree so are only beginning to grasp the intricacies of academic writing. We recognise that providing education and support is the most effective enabler to helping students finish their degrees with integrity.

An approach underpinned by innovative technology

Supporting our academic integrity team behind the scenes is an ecosystem of advanced technology to detect, manage and monitor cases.

Starting with detection, we use advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology such as machine learning and natural language processing. This has been fundamental in enabling our team to delve deeper into assessments, identify its authorship, and review language constructs and authenticity. The platform automates the collection of all of this data to act as evidence of the potential probability of different cheating types.

To support the management and monitoring of cases, we use a customised Salesforce platform, which enables us to take a streamlined and systematic approach to recording, communicating and documenting each case. This has helped us to automate reporting and alleviate the administrative tasks otherwise required by teaching staff. In some instances, where we have noticed patterns, it has also helped us to reconsider the design and use of assessments to reduce the likelihood a student will turn to online cheating sites.

The Federal Government is also doing its bit, recently establishing a $3.9 million Education Integrity Unit to police cheating, foreign interference, cyber hacking, and academic integrity at universities. With the power to shut down online essay factories, it’s another important step to maintaining the integrity of universities country wide.