Student Affairs - Fostering Student Learning and Success

Primary tabs

Advice to Faculty from Students

Students responsible for the Honor System devote countless hours to outreach, discussion, training, advising, investigating, and handling cases involving their classmates. They therefore have great insight on ways in which instructors can create a culture of honor in the classroom. Here are some of their suggestions.

Discuss the Honor Code with your students. At the beginning of the semester and before each important assignment or exam, discuss the honor code with students and your mutual obligations under it, such as: they should not cheat, and you have an obligation to report honor code violations.

Get to know your students so they feel responsible. There are greater risks of cheating in classes in which students feel anonymous or uninvolved. Consider ways in which you can use teaching methods that foster active participation so that students develop intrinsic motivation to learn and perform at a high level.

Communicate your expectations clearly. Include a statement regarding the application of the Honor Code on your syllabus and on each assignment or exam. Provide specific information on the extent to which students may work together and the authorities and forms of citation they should use. Remember that not all students have necessarily mastered rules regarding plagiarism and that you may need to clarify ways in which your particular discipline or assignment involves special circumstances that vary from their prior experience. Written instructions can avoid unnecessary disputes about your ground rules later on. The UNC Writing Center provides clear guidelines regarding what does and does not constitute plagiarism. Encourage students to ask for clarification of any point on which they have questions.

Eliminate obvious temptations to cheat on examinations. Have students sit in alternate seats if space permits. Have students sign in (in order, down each row) once they are seated so that you will know who has been located next to each other. Require all notes to be put away in backpacks unless the exam is open book. Prohibit the use of cell phones or pagers during exams without specific permission (for example, for a sick child). Use two exam forms where possible (it is possible to do so and still use Scantron grading grids) and distribute alternate versions to those sitting adjacent. Don’t reuse old exams unless you have made questions available to everyone, maintained security, or used systematic means to select questions from an evolving assessment question bank. Walk around the classroom and make eye contact while proctoring. Have students leave their exam and purses and backpacks at the proctor’s desk if they have to go to the restroom during the test, and use the restroom yourself during the exam period. Have students sign the Honor Pledge and refuse to grade the exam until they have done so.

Enlist student support in maintaining the Honor Code. UNC’s Honor Code is largely student-administered. Encourage students both to discourage cheating by colleagues and to share information about instances of cheating with you, on a confidential basis, if necessary. UNC has no formal requirement that students report suspected misconduct, but that does not mean that students should ignore their responsibilities to themselves or the University.