SIP #3.13 Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity

Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?

Cheat sheet in hand of student talking a multiple choice examStudents know that cheating is wrong, but that doesn’t always translate into carefully documented sources in a research paper or turning down a friend’s help on a take-home exam. Surveys indicate that a majority of students have cheated during their time in college. What can faculty do to improve student attitudes and encourage academic integrity?

Take a SIP of This: Create a culture of academic integrity in your classes, department, college, and university!

We often think of academic integrity as an expectation we have of students, but it can be productive to think of it more broadly. The International Center for Academic Integrity suggests that we think of academic integrity “as a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.” When we think of academic integrity as a commitment we make, we can more easily see ways to infuse it into our teaching and our own academic behavior.

Here are some things you can do to make your commitment to academic integrity part of your teaching practice:

  • Model academic integrity yourself. Cite sources for the images and data you use in handouts and slides. Familiarize yourself with what constitutes educational “fair use” under copyright law and adhere to it. A culture of academic integrity means that everyone in the classroom, including the instructor, must be held accountable.
  • In your syllabus, assignments, course documents, and lectures, talk about what students should do rather than what they should not do. Instead of telling students not to copy and paste, teach them how to properly summarize and paraphrase. Instead of telling them not to cheat on an exam, share effective study skills with them.
  • Talk about why academic integrity matters. Help students understand why observing disciplinary conventions for source citation and formatting is not just busy work but actually a way of gaining entry into disciplinary conversations.
  • Normalize not cheating.  Research indicates that when students perceive that their peers are cheating, they themselves are more likely to cheat (McCabe & Trevino, 1993, 1997). Rather than expressing disappointment that most students failed to cite sources correctly in the last batch of papers, commend the students that got it right and invite them to share their papers as examples.
  • Frame source citation practices in positive ways. For example, talk about the benefits of citing sources correctly (you come across as well-informed) rather than the tedium of looking up bibliographic formats.
  • When cheating does occur in your class, address it and levy a penalty. Research indicates that when students are more likely to cheat when they perceive that cheating is not punished (McCabe & Trevino, 1993, 1997). Let your students know that you take cheating seriously by taking action when you see it. Familiarize yourself with MSU Denver’s policies and procedures related to academic integrity.

Still Thirsty? Take Another SIP of Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity

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