Academic misconduct is prevalent in higher education, with evidence suggesting that business students cheat more than other groups. Contract cheating runs rampant due to a lack of vigorous steps and procedures in place to detect possible cases.  

CQUniversity recently took a proactive, Student as Partners (SaP) framework approach to reducing academic misconduct. This approach, which we call ‘Students Against Academic Misconduct (SAAM)’, enables and empowers students to be actively engaged in providing prevention strategies to reduce academic integrity breaches.

SAAM is a suite of interconnected initiatives

The first thing our SaP helped with was reviewing assessment practices within the school. This formed a basis for staff and students to work collegially to improve assessment practices. Several educational guides were developed by students for students, including “How to Guides” for approaching assessments and good study practices.

The second thing student partners helped with was developing a peer support system for assessments, utilising existing Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS).

Students also worked with academic staff to develop videos aimed at educating students about plagiarism and academic misconduct.

Finally, SAAM worked with the Student Representative Council to run contract cheating awareness campaigns during the university’s OMG week.

SAAM works

It reduced academic misconduct cases in one unit from 52.27 per cent of overall university breaches in 2018 to 1.13 per cent of overall breaches in 2020.

In addition, SAAM reduced academic misconduct across the entire business school from 72.22 per cent of overall university breaches in 2018 to 3 per cent of overall university breaches in 2020.

How students feel about SAAM

Amy stated, “SAAM was beneficial. It motivated students and enhanced their learning. When I first commenced my university studies, I had no knowledge about academic misconduct apart from plagiarism. From the moment I attended my first class, the school instilled a culture that academic misconduct was wrong.”

Amy also added that “one of my current units requires students to review and provide feedback on each other’s work as part of the unit assessment. This assists students with mastering content, determining standards, and reduced students seeking assistance from external sources.”

SAAM reduced cheating while improving student learning. Maybe more work with students can close the door on cheating for good.

Associate Professor Anthony Weber, School of Business and Law, CQUniversity [email protected] @aweber73

Dr Robert Vanderburg, School of Education and the Arts, CQUniversity [email protected] @Dr_Tw3nty

Ms Amy McIlwraith, first-in-family Bachelor of Laws student, CQUniversity


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