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Why addressing moral disengagement through academic integrity is critical for Indonesia

Jack Brazel
Jack Brazel
Regional Director, South East Asia






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As students adapt to asynchronous learning environments, some institutions have reported an uptick in misconduct, such as plagiarism. With many Indonesian educators still lacking the tools to offer guidance in hybrid learning environments, students do not have the same level of support afforded to in-person learning, which raises the risk of both intentional and unintentional forms of misconduct.

One survey of 178 undergraduates found that moral disengagement amongst students is playing a role in academic dishonesty and that rates of cheating are being exacerbated by student difficulties in coping with the pressures of existing assessment models. This suggests that the ways in which we currently teach and assess students needs to be rethought for better alignment with today’s non-traditional classrooms and the future of hybrid or blended learning.

Findings from another study involving 150 Indonesian students strongly suggests that with teachers less equipped to connect with students in online learning environments due to barriers such as technology access, resulting learning gaps are driving students to breach ethics and standards.

In the face of this, how should educators and institutions respond? While combatting academic dishonesty is no easy feat, it need not feel like an insurmountable task, and influencing factors such as moral disengagement can be remedied by rethinking classroom interactions.

The solution lies in empowering educators to provide the kind of feedback that informs curricular changes.

This begins with addressing access and efficacy, as well as the myriad inequities that surfaced during the pandemic. By harnessing tools that embed a strong sense of connectedness, inspiration for teaching and learning innovation, and the chance for enriched productivity, educators can push back against the growing sense of moral disengagement.

Embracing flexibility to level the playing field

Lack of understanding of course material is an oft-cited push factor for misconduct such as plagiarism, and misunderstandings can breed apathy. In fact, Heriyati and Ekasari’s study on moral disengagement indicates that addressing student apathy is crucial to curbing misconduct and promoting authentic learning.

Therefore, it’s imperative that institutions accommodate upheavals in the delivery of education and adjust methodology. . Implementing multiple assessment formats, as well as leveraging technology to make exams more manageable and digital-friendly, are effective strategies here. This not only supports student engagement, but has the potential to level the playing field by making tests more accessible to those with different backgrounds and learner needs.

Flexibility is a key component of a growth mindset, whereby student learning outcomes can be improved. It’s especially warranted in students’ digital futures, where flexibility and responsiveness in education will help students develop new technical skills, increase communication and collaboration, as well as promote broader, global perspectives, to name a few of the benefits.

Enhancing learning by championing technology

Impactful education technology can be a formative tool used to enhance -- not replace -- the role of teaching faculty. Educators will play a key role in the immediate future, not just in helping students adjust to the technological demands of distance learning, but in acting as advocates for expanding online learning opportunities to reach more students.

Not only do these tools save teachers’ time, they also support student learning outcomes by enabling more detailed and frequent feedback to grow their skills across subject areas and prepare them with real-word skills. This will ease Indonesian students’ transition to the working world, ensuring they meet the needs of employers.

Education technology will continue to play a critical role in our learning communities for years to come, and addressing the digital divide requires swift action on the part of Indonesia’s institutions and policymakers.

Here is where meaningful technology enables us to harness a new sense of community, and the opportunity to bridge the gap that still separates the haves from the have-nots. Institutions have a responsibility to ensure students, families, and educators alike are equipped to embrace what can and will be.

By encouraging engagement and collaboration via thoughtful flexibility and implementing meaningful education technology, the consequences of the disruptions upending Indonesia’s education landscape can be overcome.

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