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      Understanding the Type of Academic Infractions by Students at an Open Distance University to Design Better Interventions

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        1 ,
      UNISA Press
      academic integrity trends, student disciplinaries, COVID-19, online exams, distance education


            Low academic integrity has been highlighted as a threat to the very core of universities, with COVID-19 and remote exams seen as a further risk. Understanding what academic infractions students commit can assist in identifying interventions focused on specific groups and infractions. In this article, I analyse five years’ worth of records from a central disciplinary committee at a distance university. The data are part of a study that I conducted to holistically understand academic integrity at a distance university through conducting interviews, reviewing policies and analysing student disciplinary data. The disciplinary records were obtained from the disciplinary office, captured and students de-identified. The data were then analysed both numerically and qualitatively. In this article, I consider what these records show about the changes over time with regard to the number of cases, the national qualifications framework level, the faculty in which the infractions occur, and the type of infraction. I present the ways in which the type of offences started to change over time from infractions at venue-based exams to online exam infractions. I found that despite more frequent use of online assessments, the institution was largely unprepared for the online examinations that were implemented as a result of COVID-19 in 2020. I conclude that although the last year indicated a significant increase in cases, the number is small when considering the large student body. I argue that to manage academic infractions by students effectively, we should understand and use data not only to inform policy but also to design programmes about academic integrity.


            Author and article information

            UNISA Press
            31 May 2022
            [1 ] Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of South Africa
            Author notes

            This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0 , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com .

            The data that support the findings of this study are available from University of South Africa ethics committee but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of University of South Africa ethics committee.
            Anthropology,General education
            student disciplinaries,online exams,COVID-19,distance education,academic integrity trends


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