Posts Tagged ‘integrity’

Finance, Meet Pharma

In critical thinking, integrity on April 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Man and moneyFinance reform is long overdue. I see the similarities (and differences) between the two industries: pharmaceuticals and financial products. Both industries have a problem with too much inbreeding-the interrelationship between the regulators and the regulated creates the opportunity for collusion. Dr. Ariely says it clearly in this post. Finance, Meet Pharma.

Have Money, Will Cheat

In cheating, integrity on March 16, 2012 at 8:17 am

Cheating! What is it good for?!

Apparently everything, that is if you’re a member of a fraternity or sorority, an international student, from an educated family or do not require needs-based financial aid. This is according to the summary of a study presented at a conference of student affairs professionals. It is frustrating to look at the statistics on cheating. According to the cited survey of faculty and students at an Arizona University, 60% of students admit they’d cheated on homework, 19% admitted cheating on an exam and 30% admitted cheating on both.

At California State University, Fresno, one of the primary types of cheating is plagiarism. I’ve discussed that issue in this post (and others).  Plagiarism has serious consequences-students do not so their own work and thus faculty cannot evaluate the work. Plagiarism is undoubtedly part of the reason students fail to leave the University as educated citizens. If the students are not doing the work (and this post summarizes some of students’ study habits as reported by the students), then it’s no surprise they graduate unprepared.

Arizona University’s findings are consistent with the findings we’ve made at our University. At Fresno State a colleague, Judith Scott, and I, have offered workshops to inform students about the definition of plagiarism and how to avoid it. We’ve done that for Crowd-paradenearly seven years. The workshops have been very popular with students and faculty.  Each year, approximately  2000 students attend the workshops and faculty from every school and a variety of departments require that students attend. We offer an online version and are studying the impact of that version, but many faculty and students prefer the 50-minute  face-to-face version of the workshop.With funding cuts, however, it may be that the workshops will no longer be offered.

As a society, the educational institutions in this country have failed to teach students that integrity matters and that getting an education is more than just checking a box and receiving a diploma. In this post, I discuss the NFL’s latest cheating scandal and recommend relatively harsh penalties. Sports are a multi-billion dollar business; the ethical standards should be higher so that fans, like me, can enjoy watching fair competition.

Painful News About Causing Pain–Football Style

In cheating, Football, integrity, sports on March 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm

[Sometimes, I find something so interesting that I discuss it in my blog, even though it’s not directly related to teaching. Then again, I teach sports marketing law, so arguably this article fits into all those categories!]

To Cheat or Not To Cheat: Apparently That’s Not a Question

As football fans, we’ve heard rumors that this happens: that players are paid a bonus for knocking other players out of the game.

I’ve always believed that that’s what happened to Rich Gannon, former quarterback for the Raiders. His “attacker” nicknamed “Goose” at the time, is now a commentator for FOX Sports. Pleasant enough, but I still look askance at him every time I see and hear one of his reports.  Each time I hear Goose, I mean Tony, report, I wonder how much he was paid to land Gannon’s game- (and career-) ending injury. And to top it all off, Gannon’s injury was the beginning of a long, dry spell filled with a vast number of losses. Diehard Raiders fans know what I mean.

So, now a new story breaks. The story is that many players and teams had bounties paid for knocking out opponents. According to the linked article and other sources, the Saint’s defensive players set up a pool that paid a bounty depending on whether the player was knocked out ($1500) or carted off ($1000). Apparently the Redskins, Bills and Titans [and perhaps the 2001 Ravens-the team for which Goose played when….well you know!) had similar schemes. Mind you, none of those teams in this paragraph [except the 2001 Ravens]  have won a Superbowl in, well, forever. Maybe that’s why they may have participated in this scheme. In the other hand, the Saints won a Superbowl recently, so maybe they participated in desperation to win again, soon and not fall into the post-Superbowl slump.

Football is a rough sport. That’s the fun of it for the fans (and I assume for the players).  I am softie and completely pain averse-I don’t like causing or being the recipient of painful…anything. Yet on Sundays I’m there with other Raiders fans (who are not known for their kindness or tolerance) wanting to see players play their hardest. And hopefully win.

But this is different.

There’s winning according to the rules of the game and winning at all costs. A team could win a game by shooting the players of the opposing team.

A team and its players could increase its chances of winning by putting rocks in their  gloves or elbow pads or knee pads and tackling hard. A team could increase its chances of winning by bribing a referee (Oh, wait a minute, that’s basketball!). A team could increase its chances of winning by videotaping opposing teams’ hand signals  (that’s football, and Superbowl winners, too).  Winning at all costs is NOT what I want to see. I want to see a fairly fought contest that results in the “better” team winning.

Legal Issues


Assault-almost but not quite touching


Assault and battery are now front and center of this controversy. Football players consent to being hit. That’s the nature of the game.

But the legal issue is whether these kinds of hits, motivated by receiving a bounty, constitute hits outside the rules of the game. Are these hits are so far outside the rules that the perpetrators should face criminal and civil liability? In the examples I gave earlier: shooting players, placing rocks in their gloves and pads, it’s easy to say that there should be criminal and civil liability to the perpetrators.

The conduct in the examples is so far outside the rules that it is easy to argue that there should be liability: that the perpetrators should be prosecuted and face jail time AND that the perpetrators should face civil (tort) liability and pay damages, including punitive damages, to the victims.

But what about the conduct in the current scandal? Does the additional motive (receiving the bonus) mean that the players who participated should face criminal liability? Or should they face civil liability? Or both? Or neither?

This is my take.

Remedies Against the Players

No jail time. The additional incentive is barely distinguishable from other incentives: players’ regular pay, additional pay for reaching the playoffs and the Superbowl. In 2009, Players’ median salary ranges from a low of nearly $540,000. $1500 is less than 1% of their salaries or $150 if your salary is $54000 per year. Motive is not an element of a crime, but prosecutors’ often look at motive to convince juries that a person’s conduct was unacceptable.

Payment of Damages. Yes, the players’ involved should have to pay civil damages (not just a NFL fine) that include payment of all medical expenses (to the insurance companies if appropriate), lost wages and pain and suffering. And those players should have to pay punitive damages. I’d recommend a set multiplier, e.g. 10 times the compensatory damages.

Ejection from the league. Yes, those players who caused more serious damage that resulted in a player not being able to play again. [Maybe this is my Gannon-revenge rearing its head again.] I would argue an “eye for an eye” but the idea is that if the activity had that consequence, players should be liable for it.

Remedies Against the Teams

Let’s buttress the fines that teams pay so that it hurts them to engage in this conduct. No slap on the wrist and a new, lucrative coaching contract for breaking the rules. Remove teams from the playoffs if the team has more than 2 players who participated and the victims were carted off or knocked out. Remove their playoff wins if the team has more than 4 or 5 players who participated and the victims were carted off or knocked out.

Make the price for the team so high that the team owners, coaches and players don’t engage in this kind of conduct.

Integrity! What does it mean? Absolutely Nothing?

In integrity on February 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Integrity: What does it mean? Is this study’s result accurate, that more people accept lying on job applications as justified? Is it the economy? Is it situational ethics? But it’s not acceptable to lie to get government benefits (but acceptable to lie to get a job).

Lecturers are People….and….Faculty, Too

In faculty responsibilities, integrity, teaching on February 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

One of the great inequities at the University where I teach is the failure of our administration to formally acknowledge the hard work done by our lecturers (a/k/a adjunct faculty). These are the faculty who teach many of our General Education (GE) courses. They teach up to 5 courses per lifting_weightwithsticksemester and earn  less than tenured/tenure-track faculty. They are usually the first faculty our first time students meet. They often have other full-time jobs to supplement the income they receive from teaching. Yet they are the unsung workers who help trigger and encourage student learning.

Apparently, our University is not alone in its unfair treatment of adjunct faculty. In the Chronicle of Higher Education, writer Michael Stratford, in a piece titled: Accidental Activist Collects Data on Adjuncts,  discusses the research and conclusions of  Joshua A. Boldt, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Georgia. Boldt’s conclusions (based on information you can view from this publicly editable spreadsheet): many adjuncts are treated poorly: lower pay, higher teaching loads and general disrespect from tenured/tenure track faculty and administration. So our University is not alone in failing to acknowledge lecturers’ contributions.

There is one way to acknowledge the work done by lecturers: visible awards.

Why Not an Award for Lecturers (Adjunct Faculty)?

My institution is a unionized campus. During most years, union contracts, negotiated between the teachers’ union and central administration, define our responsibilities and compensation. (Right now, teachers are working without a contract. Apparently two sets of teachereducated minds cannot agree on what is the best pay/performance contract in tight budget times.)

Part of the Issue: Our Institution Has No Money, So No Rewards

Not all rewards need to be  paychecks. The Provost award, given annually, is a prestigious award for faculty. The Provost actually has created and gives several types of awards. These awards are for outstanding teaching, research, service, assessment (new this year), and promising new (tenured/tenure track) faculty. The glaring omission in the list of Provost’s awards is an award for adjunct faculty (we call them lecturers).

Why Don’t Lecturers Just Apply for Awards?

You may say the list’s omission of lecturers is an oversight. After all, at our institution, as of 2011, 55% of the teaching faculty were lecturers. Note that at some institutions, more than 70% of the courses are taught by part-time or adjunct faculty.  So you might think the 55% would be eligible for any one of the Provost’s awards.

You’d be wrong. They are not. They were neither welcomed nor permitted to apply.

How do You Know Lecturers are Not Eligible for Awards?

A colleague and I tested that once, approximately 4 years ago. We applied for a Provost award for service. She and I (a tenured full professor) had built and delivered plagiarism workshops to assist students (and faculty) on campus. We’d delivered the workshops to more than 2,000 students at that point. So, we applied for the award. We didn’t get it, even though we had support for other faculty. But that’s the nature of award applications–applicants are competing with other worthy applicants. Or at least that’s what we thought.

So what was unusual? Well, to apply for the award,  I had to draw in a check-box that said person writing“lecturer” for my colleague because there was no option on the form to check that status. That should have been our first clue that lecturers were excluded from consideration. That clue was confirmed when we learned from an inside source that the reason we weren’t eligible was not merit, but instead concern that “faculty” might be upset if a lecturer won an award [even apparently as a co-recipient with a tenured full professor].

To add insult to injury, the next year, the award form was amended to specifically exclude lecturers from consideration for any awards.

I understand some of the issues. Most tenure track and tenured faculty have advanced degrees beyond a masters’ degree and thus have a more in depth knowledge of an aspect of their disciplines. Arguably, those same faculty members have demonstrated a greater commitment to education. Tenured and tenure-track faculty are willing to disseminate  information through research presentations and publications and thus further knowledge in the discipline. These faculty also have additional commitments to service to the University, discipline and community.

But does that cancel out contributions by lecturers? Does this difference require that lecturers’ contributions be ignored? As director of our faculty development center,I have met lecturers (and other faculty) who care about learning and teaching. Lecturers are welcome to and do attend workshops, training on our learning management system and lead faculty learning communities. But that’s not acknowledged as an award by administration.

Let’s Create a Lecturers’ Award

Acknowledging good teaching is not a zero sum game, however, especially if the acknowledgement is through an award from the Provost. A simple solution on our campus Woman receiving awardwould be to create an award specifically for lecturers–call it the Outstanding Lecturers’ Award. Ask Deans or other colleagues to nominate (and allow self nomination as with the other awards). Show appreciation to the 55% of faculty who teach-and who teach the GE courses that students take when they first enter the University.

Lecturers (adjuncts), not corporations, are truly people…and faculty, too.

Semester Woes

In integrity on February 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

This semester has been a quite exciting semester. I’ve enjoyed speaking with students about some of my favorite topics (sports & law & legal issues).

However, reality has reared its head. I’ve encountered at least two instances of cheating on quizzes.  It’s amazing and frustrating to find that some students do not share the same joy of learning that I do.

Integrity in Professional Sports

In how people learn, integrity on November 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

football[Integrity in other contexts:] This post does not directly relate to online teaching or how people learn. However, I’m a sports fan and I teach a sports marketing law course, so I’m going to create a connection here (whether one exists or not!)

The Denver Broncos were fined for illegally videotaping a portion of the 49ers October 30 practice, before the two teams were to meet. Why is that noteworthy? It’s noteworthy because Josh McDaniels, the Broncos’ coach, was the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots during the years that Belichick, coach of the Patriots, regularly videotaped others teams. In addition, shortly after Belichick’s fine and loss of draft picks, Bob Kraft, owner of the team, signed Belichick to a long term contract deal.

How does this relate to integrity? Rules violations are normally interpreted to violate ethical principles relating to fairness and the duty to follow the law (depending on which ethical approach you take). If the NFL rules prohibit videotaping other teams’ practices and prohibit videotaping coaching signals during the game, those who do not play by the rules can gain a competitive advantage by their breach of those rules.  (See this rules’ summary in Mayer v. Belichick) This also means that the owner’s support of the conduct can help create an environment that rules violations are acceptable as long as the team wins [and the violations are not caught for a long time].

How does this relate to how people learn? People learn, in part, by following the examples that their leaders set. The NFL’s policy has teeth only to the extent that those who violate those rules are subject to punishment that are sufficient to deter the conduct. In addition, the NFL’s policy has teeth only to the extent that the NFL can negate the lesson taught to assistants (e.g. McDaniels) who learn from coaches (e.g. Belichick) and owners (e.g. Kraft) that ethics violations do not matter as long as the team wins.

In this instance, the videotaping was done by a member of the Bronco’s staff who, apparently, told McDaniels and McDaniels refused to watch the videotape. However, the NFL rules require reporting of  such conduct and McDaniels did not. If you assume that McDaniels did not watch the videotape, at the very least he did violate the NFL rules. However, the lessons he learned from the leadership of his prior team did not demonstrate integrity for that particular rule and thus McDaniels seemed to follow that similar rule-ignoring approach.

[Relationship to this blog and its topics: ]If we’re trying to encourage learners to act with integrity, it’s difficult and frustrating when those in the public eye do not also do so. And that’s this post’s connection to integrity and how people learn.

Finding Plagiarists Everywhere

In integrity on November 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Plagiarism starts at the top, e.g. Bush’s book on the Presidency

If public figures plagiarize and there are few (no) repercussions then encouraging students to write instead of plagiarize becomes increasingly difficult.

Academic Integrity

In integrity on July 30, 2010 at 12:56 am

I’m currently participating in a Sloan-C conference on promoting academic integrity.

I have conducted some research on the area, but I am already learning more about academic integrity and how to reduce plagiarism in classes.