Student Affairs - Fostering Student Learning and Success

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Honor in the Classroom

Advice to Faculty on Fostering Academic Integrity & Tips for Preventing Honor Code Violations

Most faculty share high ideals about the importance of truth and shared respect within the university environment. Few anticipate with pleasure the challenges of dealing with student academic misconduct. The following list reflects the distilled wisdom of many colleagues in far-flung institutions over the years. It includes links to other resources available from this website and elsewhere.

Understand why students cheat, so that you can target efforts to prevent misconduct before it occurs. Bear in mind that perhaps 20% of students would never cheat and perhaps an equal proportion will attempt to cheat whatever you may do. Work on preventing problems that might arise for others.

Design tests and writing assignments so that cheating isn’t easy. On tests, ask students to show their work, not just their answer. If using multiple choice questions use alternate forms (which can be keyed in on Scantron answer sheets), or alternate short answer (at the top of the page) and multiple choice at the bottom where it’s not so easy to copy. On major research papers, require students to submit the work in several phases (such as a list of sources with summaries, an outline, and the paper itself). Further good advice is available on Berkeley: Tool for Teaching: Preventing Academic Dishonesty and Virtual Salt: Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers.

Provide clear instructions for group work. Encouraging collaboration can improve student learning, but can result in ambiguities for students who step over the line and engage in “unauthorized” assistance. Talk with students very specifically about what collaboration you permit and when. Make it clear to students that they are responsible for asking questions if they have doubt about what is permitted, and make it easy for them to inquire. Consider providing a handout or an attachment to your syllabus that addresses the issue of collaboration specifically.

Don’t assume that students understand what plagiarism is and why it’s a problem. Recognize the points of tension and potential confusion such as those portrayed in the handout developed by the Purdue University Writing Center: Online Writing Lab: Avoiding Plagiarism.

Emphasize to students your commitment to take integrity seriously in connection with all their work, and explain that you have high expectations that they will do so too.

Make it easy for students to take responsibility for their own conduct and for you to hold them to the standard that you set. Explain that you will not grade any test unless the honor code statement on the bluebook is properly signed. Attach a one-page summary regarding the expectations in your discipline for avoiding plagiarism and providing appropriate acknowledgement of authorities to your syllabus and require students to attach the summary along with their signed statement representing that they have complied with the requirements each time they submit an assignment.

Become familiar with the easy ways you can detect plagiarism or other academic misconduct should it occur. Many references suggest that such signs can include lack of references, strange formatting, language that is out of character for student writers (such as unfamiliar words), and more. There are also a growing number of “plagiarism detection” tools and strategies (including simple internet search techniques).

Read the Honor Code and related materials available on this website. The Office of Student Conduct and Honor System staff are here to answer any questions you may have.