Chaitali Moitra, Regional Director - South Asia, Turnitin

With over two decades of experience across varied industry segments, Chaitali Moitra has served at the helm of various organizations and steered institutions to excellence in key success metrics – in both a financial and strategic growth capacity. Chaitali is well recognized as a leader in Business Development, Marketing and Learning. She has served in leadership positions at Genpact, The Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Global University Systems, and Macmillan Education. As the Managing Director of Collins Learning, a division of Harper Collins India, she has worked extensively with the education sector in South Asia. She has mentored students of leading management institutes and is often invited by leading institutes to share her knowledge and experience.

 

The Indian government is putting dedicated effort into reshaping education in the country and adding more value to educators, students, and the industry in general. In recent years, major developments have been undertaken in revamping higher education schools and ensuring learning resources are being made available for students and teachers. And that’s not all; semi-government institutions like IITs in India are already embracing technology-driven teaching practices to make learning for students interactive and fun.

With a renewed focus on quality and results-focused education, industry regulators are driving integrity in academia and schools. The country is also focusing on a diverse approach to increase integrity and finding solutions to discourage academic malpractices.

Academic institutions are paying more attention to upgrading infrastructure and adopting advanced technologies with a view to improving the quality of education for both students and educators. However, there is also a pressing   need to actively promote academic integrity to strengthen the foundation of the education system in India.

Since 2017, academic integrity has been a key focus area in education policies in India. In the Policy and Academic Planning Bureau circular, it has been advised that all AICTE approved institutions should create awareness about academic integrity. There is an expectation they use credible anti-plagiarism software for all their academic and R&D related activities, in an effort to develop a robust innovation ecosystem in technical institutions and to prevent the threat of plagiarism.

Academic integrity is the center of morale in classrooms and lecture halls, and the key to developing competent, capable global citizens of integrity who are equipped with the knowledge and critical thinking skills to contribute positively to society and the future economy. Academic Integrity is fundamental in upgrading the quality of education and influencing the future of the country.

NEP 2020, another step towards high-quality education

The National Education Policy introduced last year is set to deliver a sea of reforms to education and change how colleges, institutes, teachers, and parents view its efficacy. It seeks to unify Universities Grants Commission (UGC) with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) into one all-encompassing and efficient regulatory body.

The NEP 2020 focuses on core essentials, highlighting key concepts that promote critical thinking and analysis-based learning in children. The NEP will establish an education framework that doesn’t distinguish among ‘curricular,’ ‘extra-curricular,’ and ‘co-curricular’ subjects like arts, humanities, and core academic streams. With more flexibility in the choices of subjects, children will also acquire hands-on experience of vocational crafts.

India’s education system is ready to modernize to meet the needs of the new generation of students and society. The year 2020 brought a lot of learning in itself, and emphasized the need to rethink India’s education framework from a holistic approach.

However, the question remains, are we giving the best to our students?

The pursuit of ‘good grades’ and a successful career can often eclipse a commitment to moral values and academic ethics. In turn, this threatens the development of creative-thinking, problem solving, and learning comprehension skills amongst the Indian population, and the time is at hand to correct this.

For India to successfully navigate the ‘new normal’ future, we need to establish a system that guides moral conduct and equitable learning in education, be it in-situ or remotely. The first step to achieve these objectives is to underline the need for academic integrity and how schools, colleges, and teaching institutes can introduce it as part of their curriculum.

Understanding academic integrity

Institutions and schools are likely to have a number of questions surrounding the promotion of academic integrity, such as:

  • How do they ensure that their students are learning the material effectively?
  • How can institutions prioritize consistent, efficient, and fair grading and exam practices across grade levels and subject areas?
  • How does faculty establish expectations that cultivate responsible behavior and authentic learning, both in the classroom and online?

To address any of the above, consider first this overarching question: How do you and your institution approach academic integrity?

Academic integrity is the foundational idea that everyone–students, educators, administrators, and researchers–will uphold the high expectations of academia by ethically conducting research, accurately citing sources, and responsibly adhering to the guidelines set forth by institutions when producing and publishing work.

Moral ethics and honest behavior are imperative in any academic setting, and the commitment towards these moral ethics is what we call academic integrity. In simpler terms, academic integrity emphasizes giving credit to the owners when one gets inspired by their ideas or uses them. A failure to adhere to academic integrity includes the scenario of someone copying someone’s else’s thoughts or words, and passing them off as their own; otherwise known as plagiarism.  Other examples include student collusion, and contract cheating, whereby a third party is enlisted to write work that a student takes credit for.

Why is academic integrity important?

Academic integrity protects institutions’ academic reputations. It validates the virtue of a degree by stating, with confidence, “All of the work that this student completed at this institution was their own. They are ready to contribute to our society in meaningful, authentic ways.” Academic integrity strengthens grading practices because it applies the same expectations across levels and subject areas in creating original work.

Misconduct in a few can discourage the many who are honestly pursuing their degrees. Furthermore, without academic integrity, a pattern of dishonesty can develop early in an academic career. As a consequence, misconduct during school can be a large indicator of workplace deviance later in life. And because dishonesty can be contagious, academic integrity policies must be in place to stymie the growing use of essay mills and plagiarism.

How to apply academic integrity?

Educators and institutions need to clearly define academic integrity and emphasize its importance to their learning community. By posting their academic integrity policy on all syllabi and assignments, as well as on their institution’s website and LMS, schools establish the value of and expectations around original work from the very beginning.

As per BMC study, it is indicated that honour codes to regulate and actively promote academic integrity, can curb the chances of academic dishonesty. Academic Integrity in India is still in its nascent stage. If we want our education system to soar, we must lay a firm foundation and introduce a framework for academic integrity. Institutions need to determine what constitutes academic integrity and how it can help create institutional value and encourage original thinking.

Now is the time for India to take deliberate, meaningful steps towards a comprehensive approach to academic integrity in order to uphold student learning, original thinking, and protect institutional reputation. Our future depends on building a strong sense of academic integrity early on in our students’ learning journey.

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