Develop Academic Integrity

Edited by Florence I. Edim, Melissa Rae

In the course of your career as a teacher, you will likely encounter academic dishonesty. It is so frustrating when you catch students cheating or plagiarizing the work of others. Teaching knowledge and skills to students is irrelevant if they don't understand the importance of honesty and integrity. These qualities are invaluable when it comes to their professional and personal lives. Before you focus on penalizing students for dishonesty, make sure to consider academic integrity one of the top learning objectives in your class.

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Common Reasons Why Students Cheat

Understanding the reasons why students cheat is crucial to developing their morals. Some students may argue that a subject is too difficult, and the teacher is not doing his work to teach the subject effectively enough for them to understand. Some students cheat just to be able to pass the examinations. Consider students' workload, external pressures such as family and work obligations, illness and other factors beyond their control. Understanding individual students' needs is essential when it comes to lesson planning and expectations. However, some students cheat simply because they feel the need to excel at all costs, that other students cheat as well, or that cheating is not wrong if no one gets caught. Addressing all of these reasons and encouraging a comfortable learning environment is essential to reduce instances of academic dishonesty.

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Steps to Develop Academic Integrity

  1. 1
    Teach the value of academic integrity to your class
    You may want to discuss the value of honesty as a required expectation of your class during orientation. When you are successful in teaching academic integrity, you will hone other values such as honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect and trust. Those values will be reflected in their professional careers, so it is very important that you emphasize developing professionals with integrity. Take the time to include academic integrity in whatever teaching strategies that you can integrate in the curriculum.
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  2. 2
    Model academic integrity
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    As a teacher, you have to serve as a model when citing the sources of the materials you are presenting in class. Make sure that you're familiar with copyright laws and intellectual property rights. When you present your handouts, syllabus or lectures, make sure to cite the source where you got the information, or even ask from permission from the author.
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  3. 3
    Clarify all of your instructions, lessons and assessments
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    Students may be confused from difficult exams with vague instructions, and they may feel that they have no choice but to copy off of classmates whom they assume excel in the class. Remember that in the course of your class, the policy of "no students shall be left behind" should be clearly practiced.
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  4. 4
    Discuss the result of the students' examinations
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    This will provide the students the avenue to clarify their mistakes as an important component of learning, and not merely focusing on grades. For many teachers, a simple quiz after a discussion is a measure of learning. You have the option not to record extremely difficult quizzes. That way, students will not think that you value their grades over how much they learned in your class. If no one passes a quiz, that means there may be something wrong with your instructions, or the concepts that you've discussed were not clearly understood along the way.
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  5. 5
    Clearly discuss the procedure of citing sources or paraphrasing skills in their research works, essays or term papers
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    Students must be able to understand how to properly cite their work to avoid misunderstandings and frustration that may lead to academic dishonesty. If your class follows a specific or complex format, ensure that it's clearly written and easily understandable.
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  6. 6
    Help students develop their note-taking skills
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    Note-taking is an effective strategy to transfer learning from outside sources to their own schema. Schema is their own understanding of new concepts based on experience and previous knowledge. Once students take down notes, they are absorbing important data that will help them understand the lessons in class. This makes it easier for them to recall the concepts when they rely on their notes for review before the examination.
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  7. 7
    Do not give students the opportunity to cheat
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    Students will be tempted to cheat if you do not follow a system while serving as a proctor. There are various strategies that you can adopt during examinations:  
    1. Include the pledge of intellectual honesty on the test paper, and have the students sign it before the examination.
    2. Adjust the seating arrangement in such a way that friends will never be seated in the same row, and this will prevent them from sharing answers.
    3. Instruct students to put all of their bags and belongings in the front, and do not allow them to leave anything else on the table except for their pens.
    4. Do not allow students to talk to each other while taking the examination.
    5. When you proctor, sit at the back so that students will not see what you're doing.
    6. Do not allow late students to take the test once the first test has been submitted. This will prevent the exam contents from leaking.
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  8. 8
    Be accessible for consultations with students
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    Give honest feedback of your students' individual performance. This will create a culture of openness to learning because students will know that they can come to you when they need clarification of certain concepts. They will likely consult you first, instead of copying from others.
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  9. 9
    Promoting academic integrity requires a concerted effort from all of the stakeholders involved in the educational process
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    As a teacher, you cannot do it alone. Work with other teachers and the school to instill these morals in students. You need the effort of the whole community to develop integrity in the academe. Remember that the community will benefit if you produce professionals who possess academic integrity. When you develop students with academic integrity, it will create a positive chain reaction.
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Happy Teaching!

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Article Info

Categories : Communications & Education

Recent edits by: Florence I. Edim

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