Academic integrity evolves with technology, group work

Robert William Caverly

In response to improvements in technology and increasing concern over the appropriateness of group work, the University has slightly modified its approach to the academic integrity policy.

The most notable change, listed as unsanctioned collaboration, prohibits students from working together on projects unless explicitly given permission by their professor.

“That was very important because as you know, we have been having more and more group projects,” John Immerwahr, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, said.

These group projects mentioned in the policy regard assignments like science labs and research projects.

“We are interested in students learning,” Immerwahr said. “[Plagiarism] was never a problem at Villanova, but [the program] was more in the interest of the broader meaning of integrity.” He stated that the program’s technology has improved vastly over the past few years.

The University bought a subscription to, which is a special service for detecting plagiarism by doing a thorough Web search. This service makes it easier for teachers to catch plagiarism and prevent it from happening. Now that the service is available, many faculty members are either using it or entering suspicious phrases into the search engine to see if the material has been copied from the Internet.

“Most of the problems with academic integrity are with time management,” Immerwahr said. “The student has put off doing the work until the last minute … and this is what happens.”

When a violation occurs, the student or students involved will take a correctional program, administered either by the dean of the college in which the student is enrolled or by the Academic Affairs office.

Students with time management problems also may pay a visit to the study skills department in order to help them better structure their time.

Senior Sarah Banas said the problems with group work are unavoidable. “Unless you have people in solitary confinement, they are going to work together,” she said.

Freshman Tami Healy agreed. “You can’t really expect people not to work together on harder assignments,” she said.

“I have never done a chemistry lab before, so I would probably talk with someone about it, but not copy it or anything.”