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Project Lead:

Dr Violeta Morari (violeta.morari@mtu.ie)

Project Status

In Progress

Project Lead Home Department:

MTU Cork - Science and Informatics - Mathematics

Alignment to HEA and NFETLHE SATLE 2022-23 Themes

  • Best Practice in Upholding and Cultivating Academic Integrity;

Alignment to MTU Strategy Themes

  • Learner Education & Experience;
  • Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Ecosystem;

Project Description

"Courageous conversations" (CC) is the term used to refer to a strategy for promoting academic integrity and addressing instances of academic misconduct. They typically involve a faculty member or instructor speaking with a student suspected of engaging in academic misconduct, and discussing the issue with them in a frank and honest manner. The goal is to help the student understand the seriousness of their actions and their potential consequences, while also providing an opportunity to explain their behavior and potentially take responsibility for it.

The concept was developed by Cath Ellis of UNSW and Kane Murdoch of Macquarie University and pioneered in Australia. This concept is novel to Ireland and MTU will be one of the first institutions to lead on this.

The objectives of this project are:

  • To establish and develop an Academic Integrity Learning Community for staff and students across MTU.
  • Through this student–staff partnership, establish the basis for Courageous Conversations – the initial conversation with a student before a formal academic misconduct investigation. 
  • Develop practical, accessible, user friendly MTU AI CC Guidelines (aligned with MTU policies and procedures) for staff and students which will support these courageous conversations comprising:
    • A step-by-step handbook for dealing with a range of AI issues. 
    • Email templates for communicating with students.
    • Tips and suggestions for conducting Courageous Conversations.
    • Establish and facilitate standardised best practice in addressing AI issues, including the burgeoning area of the use of tools for plagiarism like ChatGPT. 
    • Establish a safe space for students to discuss AI issues. Empower students to intervene, say no, and/or report when they become aware of cheating.
  • Gather, collate, analyse and disseminate quantitative and qualitative data relating to AI issues and the impact of these on students.
  • Inform MTU colleagues of best international practice for AI.

What is the anticipated impact of this project?

It is anticipated this project will have impact as follows:

  • A preliminary report on current understandings of current AI matters among MTU students. Information gathered from surveys and focus groups will inform the content and direction of subsequent information campaigns and the MTU AI CC Guidelines.
  • A series of seminars/webinars and workshops led by international experts such as Kane Murdoch, Cath Ellis and Thomas Lancaster.
  • A communications plan for a series of multi-dimensional online and on-campus information campaigns These may involve posters, pop-ups, webpages, videos, student champions, and a social media campaign. 
  • MTU AI CC Guidelines for staff that provide practical tips and advice on how to have difficult conversations with students about academic integrity breaches, including how to structure the conversation and elicit answers, and template letters/emails to send to students before and after the conversation. Similar practical tips and advice on alleviating issues related to the use of large language models like ChatGPT, according to best practice.
  • Recommendations for how to integrate the MTU AI CC Guidelines and associated training materials into existing policies and procedures around academic integrity.
  • Case studies that illustrate how the Guidelines can be used in practice, along with feedback from staff and students on their effectiveness.
  • Regular MTU AI Learning Community Meetings.

MTU is a university that spans over six campuses, with over 18000 students and 2000 staff. Developing an Academic Integrity culture, strategies that reinforce and underpin academic integrity is the responsibility of all. This project will impact both staff and students across the board.

What will the outputs of this project be?

The key outputs and deliverables will be as follows:

  • MTU AI Learning Community
  • MTU AI Courageous Conversations Guidelines with advice on
    • Dealing with AI issues. 
    • Email templates for communicating with students.
    • Tips and suggestions for conducting Courageous Conversations.
    • Tips and Advice for using LLM such as Chat Gpt
  • AI Student Champions
  • Information Campaigns
  • Webinars/Workshops/Masterclasses
  • Case studies 
  • A series of educational digital assets (infographics) based on the project disseminated through MTU social media channels such as  Workvivo,  etc.,
  • Report on students’ understanding of the AI challenges (based on the survey)

Team Members:

  • Dr Diarmuid Grimes, Lecturer, Department of Computer Science, MTU Cork Campus.
  • Dr Marian Hurley, Academic Success Coach, AnSEO – the Student Engagement Office, MTU Cork Campus.
  • Dr Aisling O’Gorman, Lecturer, Department of Process Energy and Transport Engineering, MTU Cork Campus.
  • Ms Caroline O’Reilly, Head of Department of Management & Enterprise, School of Business, MTU Cork Campus.
  • MTU SU - students will be working as consultants to develop and deliver the outputs

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