Today’s post is about a topic that we love to hate: Academic Integrity. It’s our job as faculty to ensure the fidelity of our assessments. We plan our classes and prepare our students to the best of our ability, but some students still choose to take the low road. Klein et al (2006) reported that 86% of a 268-student cross disciplinary sample reported they had cheated. Why? Harris (1989) reported that it has to do with students’ values and often times, the classroom environment. In classes that were less personalized and where students were less engaged, cheating was higher than when the opposite was true (Pulvers, 1999).

As our campus Academic Integrity Officer, I have adjudicated all kinds of academic dishonesty cases. It’s heart-breaking to hear from a student that they felt like they had no other option. Crunched for time as a result of poor planning or too many competing responsibilities, otherwise rational students sometimes do irrational things.

While we can’t make decisions for our students, we can do things that promote academic integrity in our classes. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. At the very least, make sure that your syllabus conforms to the minimum syllabus guidelines that includes the most current academic integrity links.
  2. Create an Academic Integrity Policy Quiz like the one listed here.
  3. Include a list of cheating behaviors on your syllabus: copying answers during an exam, using an electronic device for assistance during an exam, claiming another’s work as your own, buying a paper off the internet, assisting another student to commit academic dishonesty. See our website for a complete list.
  4. Do you allow former students to share old homework, quizzes, or exams with current students? Do you allow students to collaborate on homework and take-home exams? If so, clearly state this on your syllabus. Be specific about what you do and do not allow.
  5. Turn this topic into a discussion about personal integrity. The damage that cheating and lying do to self-worth may be irreparable and these behaviors often don’t end at graduation.
  6. Discuss the importance of integrity within the realm of academic research. What would happen if researchers falsified data?
  7. Be an example of academic integrity for our students. Honor posted office hours, return work when promised, own up to mistakes.

How have you handled this situation in your own classroom and professional life? Share your good ideas by commenting below!

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