Component D: The organization provides support to ensure that faculty, students, and staff acquire, discover, and apply knowledge responsibly.
The University's faculty, staff, and students value responsible scholarship and understand that academic integrity is central to "exemplary practices in teaching, learning, and service" (VCSU Mission). A number of policies and academic support structures assist faculty and students in acquiring and using knowledge responsibly.
Policies that Support Responsible Scholarship
As detailed in Chapter 4, Core Component 1e, a number of campus policies support responsible, ethical interactions. Four policies, however, apply specifically to responsible scholarship in teaching and learning: the Institutional Review Board process, Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Academic Integrity.
Institutional Review Board.
VCSU Policy 611.8
establishes an Institutional Review Board to ensure the welfare of human subjects in research, in accordance with federal regulations including, but not limited to, the "Guidelines for Protection of Human Research Subjects" 45 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 46 established by the National Institutes of Health, and regulations to protect human subjects, 21 CFR 50, 312, 812 as established by the Food and Drug Administration. To ensure adequate safeguards and to discharge the responsibility of the institution, no research (including grant applications), development, or related activity involving human subjects may be undertaken unless the IRB Committee has reviewed and approved such proposed activity.
All graduate research proposals must be reviewed and approved under this policy; faculty teaching research methods in undergraduate courses are also aware of this policy and occasionally have course activities that require Committee review. The review board and policy for institutional review were established in 2006 when the Graduate School was being developed, in recognition of the stronger emphasis and expectations placed on research in a graduate program. Since its inception, the IRB Committee has reviewed and acted upon over 150 research requests at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. It has also allowed several external requests to pursue research involving VCSU faculty, staff, and students.
The State Board of Higher Education Policy 611.2
establishes guidelines to support faculty, staff, and student research, scholarship, and creative work. The guidelines identify the rights and responsibilities of the individuals and the University, to clarify rights to copyright, patents, and royalties.
VCSU Policy 480.5
identifies guidelines for ethical use of copyrighted materials in the classroom. The policy was last updated in 1996, and therefore pertains primarily to print materials. However, the VCSU Library Director is in the process of updating the policy. She has attended several copyright webinars, obtained the newest literature concerning academic copyright policies in the digital age in order to gain an understanding for the issues and to provide resources for faculty and staff. The Director has authored a LibGuide which currently serves as the most complete archive of copyright information on campus, and she has offered several presentations for faculty on copyright issues and fair use to introduce the LibGuide resource and as a forum for copyright issues on campus.
Efforts to update the University’s copyright and fair use policy continue. A draft of the proposed update entitled, Valley City State University ("VCSU") Copyright Compliance Policy: Library and Classroom, uses the Copyright Clearance Center sample for academic libraries as a template. When complete, the copyright guidelines will contain links to the Distance Education and TEACH Act and other resources to guide faculty, students and staff. A draft of the policy can be viewed from the Copyright@VCSU LibGuide on the Library website (http://libguides.library.vcsu.edu/copyright). The document is currently open for public comment; following the comment period, changes will be made and the document will be submitted for approval.
VCSU Policy 530.1
identifies various forms of academic dishonesty and lays the responsibility for maintaining academic integrity at the University in the hands of those engaged in teaching and learning - the faculty, students, and administration. Sanctions are imposed to ensure that academic integrity is more than a theoretical principle. However, simply imposing sanctions upon students falls short of fulfilling institutional responsibilities. The underlying objective is that students will ultimately internalize standards of academic integrity, so that they do not have to be moved toward that integrity by fear of sanction.
Discussions about the principle of academic integrity in a community of scholars are held in Learning to Live classes, where one unit focuses on case studies with various types of cheating. Less formal interactions occur in general education courses as the topic comes up in preparation for an assignment, often couched in a discussion of plagiarism, the most common form of academic dishonesty on campus.
Faculty are directed to report violations of academic integrity to the Academic Affairs office, which keeps reports on file. Students are warned that, while a first offense typically results in a failed paper, subsequent offenses - which may be at any time throughout the student’s academic career at VCSU - will result in more serious sanctions, to include course failure and expulsion. This reporting process has been in place since 2006, but use of the process took time to gather momentum. So, while there appear to be more violations each year, this may not provide an accurate picture: faculty are becoming more aware of the process and following through with more reports each year.
Students are informed about the academic integrity policy in the Student Handbook. Faculty are expected to include a statement on academic integrity in their syllabi and discuss what this means in their field of study in each course. The online course template in Blackboard also posts the academic integrity policy, so every student has access to the policy in every class through Blackboard. Faculty are reminded of the policy and process each fall during Opening Week; in addition, faculty have access to SafeAssign in Blackboard, to assist them in helping students identify and correct plagiarism, and faculty are encouraged to update assignments and tests to reduce cheating.
Academic Support Programs that Promote Responsible Use of Knowledge
A variety of academic support programs assist students and faculty in developing skills and attitudes needed to use knowledge responsibly. Instruction in information literacy, and assistance in developing strong documentation habits, are available through the Library, the General Education curriculum, and the Learning Center.
Information Literacy in General Education Courses. Information literacy, a significant aspect of all learning, is formally addressed within several courses and via workshops and seminars hosted by professional library staff members. All first-year composition courses, including ENGL 110 College Composition I, ENGL 120 College Composition II, and ENGL 125 Introduction to Professional Writing include specific lessons related to information literacy and the responsible use of knowledge. Members of the professional library staff conduct presentations and workshops in all sections of these courses. The instruction includes information on how to conduct research, how to evaluate sources, how to correctly cite sources, and how to incorporate the use of sources in classroom research activities.
Some points included in all presentations include use of library databases, internet searches, and the evaluation of the sources that are found via these types of searches. Students, faculty, and staff understand that all sources are not equal in reliability or quality, and the professional library staff provides tools and information necessary to evaluate sources.
Faculty & Staff Information Literacy and Ethical Use Training. In addition to information provided in the required General Education courses listed above, members of the professional library staff also conduct professional development seminars and workshops for faculty and staff members regarding the search for and use of high quality information.
VCSU professional library staff has presented literacy sessions at fall workshops, brown bags, summer institutes and other faculty/staff gatherings, as well as specially scheduled training opportunities. A new initiative in 2010-11 offered Mini Info Lit Sessions for VCSU Faculty and Staff, featuring seven sessions highlighting various databases and topics:
- EasyBib: Citation Tool
- ARTstor: Images and Tools for Presentations....the EASY way!
- Films On Demand: How to Share and Use this Videoclip Library
- JSTOR: Archival Databases, Many topics
- Learning Express: Praxis Practice and other tests online
- LibGuides: Make Your Own or Use Ours
To increase participation during 2011-12, the library staff is considering alternate delivery possibilities.
Student Information Literacy Efforts. Student information literacy presentation requests continue to grow as more and more faculty invite the professional library staff into their classrooms to present research and information literacy training. During 2010-11 presentations by professional librarians were made to over 25 classes reaching 300+ students. Topics included
- Wildlife and Fisheries Research Information
- Business Resources and Databases
- Using a Bibliographic Management Tool
- Copyright Brown Bag
The library website is undergoing an upgrade and a web form for faculty to request a classroom information literacy session has been added. Information literacy, copyright, and database use/training modules will be added to the distance student resources, most likely in the form of webcasts.
The University's information literacy program informs students and faculty about responsible, ethical use of knowledge in general education courses and courses in their majors. Since online students have less direct access to this type of training, the professional librarians are attempting to correct and improve this gap.
Learning Center Support of Academic Integrity. The Learning Center supports the research and writing needs of all VCSU students, including campus undergraduate students, online students, and graduate students. Learning Center tutors are available to offer in-class workshops to explain APA/MLA rules for citing sources, in addition to providing individual assistance for any student requesting help with source citation.
Action Research and the Graduate Program. Graduate students in the Master's in Education program are required to complete an action research project, which they present as part of their portfolio defense. Since action research requires the use of field research, students are introduced early to the Institutional Review Board purposes and policy and required to seek IRB approval before pursuing their research. Information about the purposes of IRB approval are posted on the graduate website (www.vcsu.edu/irb). In addition, several courses (EDUC 685, Action Research, and LMIS 688 Collaboration, Management and Leadership) include units on action research and ethical research practices to assist students as they prepare their proposals. Beyond this more general coursework, each student works with his/her advisor to prepare the proposal and IRB request, which provides individual support for student questions and an opportunity for faculty to model appropriate attitudes toward responsible research methodology.
Evaluation of Core Component 4d
VCSU supports the responsible use of knowledge through the implementation of policies and programs that support students in developing the needed skills and attitudes to use knowledge responsibly. The Library staff, the Learning Center, and the Institutional Review Board all play important roles in assisting faculty, staff, and students in this area.
Strengths: The Library staff have developed a strong information literacy program to support classroom instruction, and they are diligent in seeking opportunities to work with faculty and students. The development of the Institutional Review Board has helped highlight issues of responsible scholarship as it becomes more widely understood and used by faculty across campus.
New Initiatives: The current revision of the Copyright policy to provide more useful guidelines for fair use of digital materials, especially in the online environment, will provide an important tool for faculty who may not always be cognizant of current thought regarding copyright.
Challenges: Faculty face a continued challenge to communicate clearly on matters of integrity, to make this an internalized standard that guides teaching and learning.