Student Affairs - Fostering Student Learning and Success

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Advice to Faculty from Students

Students responsible for administering 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 the mutual obligations under it, including the obligation of instructors to report Honor Code violations.

Get to know your students so they feel a greater sense of personal investment in the course, and therefore may be more motivated to act with integrity. There are greater risks of cheating in classes in which students feel anonymous or uninvolved. Consider ways in which teaching methods that foster active participation can be used so that students develop intrinsic motivation to learn and to perform at a high level.

Communicate expectations clearly. Include a statement regarding the application of the Honor Code on the 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 the rules for the course’s particular discipline regarding plagiarism may need to be clarified. Written instructions can avoid unnecessary disputes about these ground rules later on. Encourage students to ask for clarification of any point on which they have questions, and encourage them to take advantage of University resources, such as the The UNC Writing Center, which provides clear guidelines regarding what does and does not constitute plagiarism and which assists students in strengthening their academic writing.

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 student who has 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 the questions have been made available to everyone or unless systematic means have been used 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 System Process is largely student-administered. UNC has no formal requirement that students report suspected misconduct, but students nevertheless play a vital role in ensuring the academic integrity of the Carolina community. Encourage students both to discourage cheating by their peers and to share information about instances of cheating faculty and other appropriate parties, on a confidential basis, if necessary.