The Launch of a Joint Library/Writing Centre Online Course on Academic Integrity

Cari Merkley

Abstract


Objective – To outline the collaborative development of an online course addressing academic integrity by a university’s library system and writing centre.

Design – Case study.

Setting – A public research university in the Midwestern United States.

Subjects – 1650 students who completed the online module.

Methods – Oakland University (OU) Libraries and the Writing Centre began to collaborate on the development of a new online course on academic integrity in 2011. It was felt that an existing online library tutorial on plagiarism no longer met the needs of students and faculty. The development of the course was informed by the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (2000) as well as a research study investigating students’ use of sources in their scholarly writing across several institutions. Moodle, the institution’s learning management system (LMS), was used to develop the learning object.

Main Results – OU Libraries and the Writing Centre launched the six-part online course entitled “Using and Citing Sources” in January 2012. They developed modules around learning outcomes in five broad categories: defining academic integrity and plagiarism; the use of sources in academic writing; paraphrasing; quoting; and citation. The final module provided students with an opportunity to practise lessons learned in the first five modules. The use of the LMS to design and host the course limited the tutorial to registered students, but provided developers with access to additional course functionality without labour-intensive coding. It also allowed Writing Centre staff to access students’ performance data on the modules prior to their appointments. Improvements over the previous online tutorial included expanded content on academic ethics and referencing, more active learning elements, video content, and the opportunity for students to choose discipline-specific examples. In the first four months of its availability, 1650 students completed the course, with 3330 attempts overall.

Conclusion – The diverse perspectives and expertise that individuals from OU Libraries and the Writing Center brought to their collaboration greatly informed the development of the course. The time and effort saved by using the university’s existing LMS to develop interactive content and the focus on providing students with opportunities for active learning within the course contributed to the project’s success.

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