Category: Blog

Instructors’ Perspectives on Academic Wellness- Featuring Dr. Jodi Martin

It is important to view academic integrity and mental health from the perspective of members who deal with its maintenance and related-issues in their classrooms. During this interview, special guest 👩🏼‍💻Dr. Jodi Martin is featured. Dr. Martin is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at York University.

Keep reading to find out more about Dr. Martin’s perspectives on matters related to academic integrity, mental health, students’ success and more!

What is Academic Integrity and Why is it Important?🤔

Academic integrity is a set of rules or guidelines for conduct that ensure fair, reliable, and ethical learning.

It is important because the credibility and reputability of the degree that students are earning rely on the assumption that the degree was obtained while upholding the standards of academic integrity. Without academic integrity, we run the risk of higher education being devalued and disrespected.

What is Your role as an instructor in upholding Academic Integrity and Academic Wellness?🤔

As an instructor, I am responsible for creating awareness about academic integrity with all my students – but this is a two-way street, oftentimes this is me providing access to information about academic integrity and students needing to take the responsibility to access and understand the information from the resources provided. 

I am also responsible to maintain the academic integrity of each of my courses for all students enrolled. That means ensuring that all students have the same access to content and are assessed in the same way and on the same timelines. 📆

Ultimately ensuring one’s own academic wellness is the responsibility of the individual in question.

What I can do as an instructor is refer to resources that can assist students in their academic wellness journeys. I share these resources regularly through my course eClass pages (I have a section right now about online learning supports for students during virtual learning) and I advertise specific events to students through Course Announcements.  

What are Some Misconceptions that you Believe Students May Have Regarding Academic Integrity?🤔

I think a lot of students think this is something they would never do and perhaps accidentally engage in conduct that compromises academic integrity, often without realizing it.

I also think some students underestimate the seriousness of violating academic integrity and its importance for the reputability of the degree that you are earning.

What are the Best Practices Students can Use to Avoid Academic Misconduct?🤔

Be aware of what behaviours count as academic misconduct.

Read the syllabi or course outlines provided to you – they have lots of information! — Check out the University’s Academic Honesty policy and Student Code of Conduct, and read more about academic integrity through SPARK.

The more you know, the less likely you are to get yourself in an accidental situation of academic misconduct.

Do you Notice Any Trends Between Students’ Mental Health as it Reflects on Their Academic Success in the Course?🤔

Perhaps surprisingly, I find that students who are doing extremely well in the course are often those who seem most anxious. Not necessarily what you might at first glance consider, but it’s what I have anecdotally observed over the past few years. 

Dr. Jodi Martin

Dr. Jodi Martin is an Assistant Professor of psychology at York University. Her teaching focus includes statistics and methodological courses.

She is dedicated to upholding and enhancing student experiences, and to promoting a variety of possible career paths for students graduating with psychology undergraduate degrees. 

Instructors’ Perspectives on Academic Wellness – Featuring Dr. Kathleen Fortune

It is important to view academic integrity from the light of members who deal with cases of violations on a regular basis. During this interview, special guest 👩🏼‍💻Dr. Kathleen Fortune is featured, who is the Co-Chair of the Faculty of Health Panel Hearings on Academic Integrity.

Keep reading to find out more about Dr. Fortune’s perspectives on matters related to academic integrity, mental health, students’ success and more!

What is Academic Integrity and Why is it Important?🤔

Academic integrity refers to a set of guiding principles or values that are essential to all scholarly activities.

These values include trust, respect, fairness, honesty, and responsibility. Students and faculty are part of a university community and a broader intellectual community. When all of us follow these principles, we can have more confidence and trust in the information we produce and share with one another. For students, this means completing tests and assignments honestly, without engaging in impersonation, cheating, or plagiarism.

It matters because university education is about more than simply memorizing information. It is also about learning how to conduct oneself in an ethical and professional manner.

It matters because when some students gain an unfair advantage through academic dishonesty, they diminish not only the integrity of their classmates’ degrees but also of the institution as a whole 🏫. 

What is Your role as an instructor in upholding Academic Integrity and Academic Wellness?🤔

My role as an instructor is first and foremost to educate my students about academic integrity.

Many of my students, particularly those in their first year, have a limited understanding of all that academic integrity involves. I can’t expect them to meet standards they aren’t aware of. For me, an important part of this educational component is explaining to them why academic integrity matters, not just that it does. I speak to them about fairness and ethics, how much I value these principles, and I emphasize that I’ve structured the course in such a way that they shouldn’t feel the need to violate academic integrity. I model academic integrity values in my teaching practice and with the assistance of my incredible teaching assistants, I try to support students through the term. That’s the easier part.

The harder part is trying to monitor for violations of academic integrity and then deciding on the appropriate course of action to take (e.g., remedial and/or punitive).

It’s an ongoing challenge to keep up with the expanding options students have for engaging in academic dishonesty and the growing market for such behaviour (e.g., paper mills and websites to share previously submitted assignments). I find myself torn between wanting to uphold academic honesty and not wanting to use up all my energy in the pursuit of academic dishonesty. I would much rather put that energy into engaging lectures.

I outline the steps that will be taken if my TA’s discover academic dishonesty, and I emphasize that these punishments are typically worse than a small late penalty they might receive, or a lower mark on a test.

That said, this is one of my least favourite parts of my job. I became an educator to support students, not to spend my time engaging in surveillance and punishment. I think it boils down to mutual respect. However naïve it might seem, I feel that if students are educated about academic integrity, and feel supported and respected, they are less likely to violate these policies.

My role in upholding academic wellness is more challenging. In order to help students gain a sense of self-efficacy, I design my courses to include some scaffolding, so that they feel seen and supported. I try to model openness to hearing about their lived experiences, a recognition that they are under tremendous pressure, and are experiencing a lot of anxiety. The challenge for me is that so much of that feels out of my control. I want to fix all of the issues they are struggling with, but I can’t, but I do try to balance upholding academic standards with providing support and empathy. I’m not sure I always get that balance right.

What are Some Misconceptions that you Believe Students May Have Regarding Academic Integrity?🤔

I think one of the key issues is not knowing that they can ask for help, or perhaps not being supported when they do.

Students are under tremendous pressure academically, and in many cases, economically and socially. The deadlines start to pile up, anxiety increases, and procrastination often follows.  I suspect that results in poor decision-making and the belief that cheating or plagiarism is their only viable option. In that place of pressure, anxiety, and panic, they are bombarded with ads from the emerging market of opportunistic companies offering them shortcuts and easy solutions. It’s not surprising that many students are tempted.

I think that issue comes back to the lack of education and awareness many students have about what constitutes academic dishonesty and why it matters.

Some students might think that these policies are just annoying, arbitrary rules that serve a no broader purpose. Of course, as educators, we can say, “It was in the syllabus” but we know that isn’t enough. Students do need to be accountable for their actions, but they need to be fully informed before we can hold them to these policies.  

What are the Best Practices Students can Use to Avoid Academic Misconduct?🤔

If it is not your original thought or writing, cite the source you got that information from.

It sounds simple, but just following that one rule would resolve many academic integrity issues. There is a huge distinction between failure to properly cite (in APA format, for example) a journal article or book and failing to cite a source at all. It is so easy to lose track of citations, especially when you’re writing a lengthy paper, so cite as you go along. Ask your TA or instructor questions about citations.

Speak to your instructor if your personal circumstances are such that you are feeling unable to meet a deadline.

We can’t always extend the deadline, but we may be able to compromise on late penalties, and the very worst possible outcome is that we say no and at least we know you cared enough to reach out.

Avoid relying on fellow classmates or WhatsApp chat groups as your only source of information about a course.

While they can be great sources of study support, they can also be sources of misinformation, and not everyone in the group may have the same motivations or intentions. I’ve seen far too many cases of honest, hardworking students sharing their work with classmates in these groups, only to find themselves caught up in cases of academic dishonesty. Helping others does not require you to send them your work. 

Do you Notice Any Trends Between Students’ Mental Health as it Reflects on Their Academic Success in the Course?🤔

That’s a tough one for me to answer because I generally tend to interact with more students who are struggling with their mental health. I teach large classes and I might only hear from 10% of my students over the year. Many of the students who do reach out are struggling with anxiety and depression, so that skews my perception. I’ve been teaching for about 10 years and every year I hear from more students who are struggling. Undoubtedly some part of that mirrors the existing data that suggests anxiety and depression are increasing steadily among teens/young adults.  

There is so much pressure on young people these days and so much uncertainty.

That’s an incredibly difficult combination of challenges that are further magnified for students facing economic challenges and those who lack social support. The pressure keeps increasing and yet despite our best intentions, we are not adequately arming our students with the coping skills and resources they need to manage this increasing pressure. 

Dr. Kathleen Fortune

Dr. Kathleen Fortune is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at York University. She teaches Introduction to Psychology, Psychology of Women, and the Psychology of Death & Dying. Her previous research focused on gender-role double standards, social stigma, prejudice, and concealment.

As a teaching-stream faculty member, her current focus is on teaching pedagogy, specifically focusing on the challenges faced by students making the transition from high-school to university. She currently serves as co-chair of the CEAS Subcommittee on Panel Hearings on Academic Honesty. 

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On Academic Wellness: Mindfulness for Students – Featuring Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

The Academic Wellness project explores how students’ academic journey is influenced by students’ perceptions and choices around academic integrity and mental wellbeing. 🧑‍🎓👩‍🎓👨‍🎓

Perceptions about one’s self, abilities, worthiness, decision making, attributions, motivations, as well as others and the environment around them play a big role in one’s day-to-day lives. 

In this interview,👨🏻‍💻 Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi talks about mindfulness and its big role in students’ day-to-day lives, including their academic wellbeing. 

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi did his post doctorate in the department of psychology at Harvard University and worked with Professor Ellen J. Langer who is one of the leading figures on mindfulness. In his almost ten-year long, studying, work and teaching at Harvard, he taught on mindfulness and published numerous works on mindfulness. 

What is Mindfulness? 🤔

Mindfulness is an active state of mind where one can intentionally live in the here and now and experience a phenomenological connectedness to the present moment. When one is mindful, he/she can live his/her wholeness and can experience savoring, synergy, vitality, and presence.

“Presence is a key to mindfulness.”

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

When mindless, people experience a state of fragmentation, absence, separation, and tardiness.

In your publications, you coined the term “Langerian mindfulness”, can you expand on that?🤔

That’s a good question. There are at least two versions of mindfulness: meditation-based mindfulness and Langerian mindfulness. The former claims that meditation opens up the path to mindfulness whereas the latter namely Langerian mindfulness argues that while you can achieve mindfulness through meditation, you can also be mindful without the use of meditation.

There are clinical and social implications of Langerian mindfulness in a wide variety of contexts including relationship, health and treatment of depression, stress and anxiety. How is Langerian mindfulness related to academic wellness?🤔

Langerian Mindfulness may help in the facilitation of students’ wellbeing in academia and in the different contexts and parts of their day-to-day lives that affect it. With Langerian mindfulness, students can increase their creativity, their vivacity and their connectedness to the present moment. Anxiety and fears go away when mindfulness arrives.

When mindfulness grows, and of course we have different levels of mindfulness, our capacity to celebrate multiple perspectives enhance as well.

“Our flexibility, openness and receptiveness grow in line with our mindfulness.”

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

Our mindfulness would allow us to become more caring and careful: caring because we will increase our power of attention, empathy, understanding and tolerance towards others and careful because we will watch our responses, reactions and language. Deep down discrimination, oppression, stereotyping, cliché ways of thinking there lie layers of mindlessness. Mindlessness imposes a mindset which treats people like things whereas mindfulness requires a humane approach towards human ties and relationships.

Self-esteem and attributions to one’s worthiness may influence students’ decisions of resorting to academic misconduct.
How can mindfulness increase our sense of self-esteem?🤔

Mindfulness is aligned with empowerment and agency. Mindfulness helps us understand that our choices count and that we are not merely embedded and incarcerated in an automatic behavior setting. 

When we understand our power of choices and we appreciate its implications, we come to realize how our choices can create different realities for us. 

Our self-worth enhances through our mindfulness.”

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

We liberate ourselves from fear and inducing factors and detach their impeding elements from our proactivity. When mindless, we often identify ourselves with our negativity, our fears, our drawbacks and our missing points. When our mindfulness emerges, we make a discernment of our strengths, our resources and our choices. Mindfulness allows us to see how we can get out of an automatic mindset and begin to invent our decisions, images, responses and performances through our choices.

What are the impediments of mindfulness and how can we avoid them?🤔

Langerian mindfulness argues that acting from a single perspective, routinized behaviors, repetitions, exposure to recursive forms of behavior, and indulgence in hackneyed ways of living, an outcome-oriented attitude without paying attention to process are among the factors that can give rise to mindlessness. 

Revising our mindsets, sitting back and observing our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and interpretations, understanding the differences between thoughts and actions, experiencing detachment (that nothing should own us) and compassion are prerequisites for experiencing the delectable taste of mindfulness. 

“Mindfulness opens up the path for developing a radical transformation of one’s being.

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi

I invite you to exercise mindfulness today by being present in your academic journey and the learning process and by not paying attention only to the outcome(s), whether that is a good grade or to graduate.

Only adopting an outcome-oriented attitude could make it more likely to fall into acts like academic misconduct and academic violations which may not only deprive you of a true learning experience and exploration of one’s strengths and performance, but worsen your mental health and wellbeing (stress, anxiety, depression).

Make every choice regarding your mental health or academic progress, knowing that it counts. There lies power within the aspirations, development and growth as a student, learner, and a person that you can reach by making choices while adopting mindfulness.

Having said that, the choices you have made in the past should not define you or limit you, but you can always define your life with the choices you make. There are many resources that can support you, and accessing them is a choice that is available for you. Check out the Resource Hub page for more! 

Please see below a short bio for Dr. Fatemi.

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi Biography

Dr. Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi completed his postdoctoral studies in the department of psychology at Harvard University where he has also served as a Teaching Fellow, an Associate and a Fellow.

He is a frequently published author and has been the keynote speaker of numerous international conferences.

His publications appear in Springer, Wiley, Templeton Press, Routledge, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Lexington publication, Roman & Littlefield, Palgrave McMillan, American Psychiatric Association, and Journals such as APA’s Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology and International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

In addition to teaching at Harvard, he has also taught for the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia, Western Washington University, University of Massachusetts in Boston, University of Toronto, York University, Endicott College, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, University of Tehran, and Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.

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