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Talking about Academic Integrity

Addressing the importance of academic integrity with your students can take on many forms. Within your syllabus, you may have a copy of the formal, institute and college policies on academic dishonesty and misconduct. In addition, you may also provide a statement in the syllabus on how you expect students to uphold academic integrity as it specifically relates to both individual and group-based assignments. Encouraging academic integrity can even take on more implicit forms through the very design of assignments. For example, by incorporating low stakes assessments and scaffolding content, you can help students recognize and carry out the important process of internalizing information and taking on a more active, accountable role in developing their content knowledge and skills. Similar to the explicit communication of policies and expectations within your syllabus, there are some very specific questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the cultural context for my students and how might it influence their understanding of academic integrity as defined by the college or institute?
  • What’s the best way to begin the conversation with students in this case, both as a proactive step or as a response to an academic integrity ‘mis-step’?
  • How can I engage my students in a discussion about academic integrity in such a way that will further help them to develop their own sense of academic integrity and accountability?
  • If I have concerns or suspect misconduct or plagiarism, what is a good way to approach the student?


Starting a Conversation

In 50 Ways to Jumpstart Academic Integrity Discussions in Your Class, Renée Gravois Lee and Lisa Burns proclaim, "There is no substitute for faculty members engaging students in dialogues about the importance of integrity in their academic, personal, and professional lives. Such discussions encourage students to reflect upon their own values and actions, and to be active partners in promoting a culture of integrity both in and outside the classroom."[1]

Having a class-wide conversation about academic integrity early in the semester demonstrates to students the value of the subject, while helping them to think critically about important issues before problems arise.

Some questions you may consider posing to your students include:

  • What is academic integrity and why does it matter?
  • What is plagiarism and how can it be avoided?
  • What constitutes cheating?
  • How do you properly paraphrase?
  • When is it appropriate to collaborate on class assignments?
  • What should the penalty in this class be for cheating or plagiarizing?
  • What citation style will be used in this class and what are some of its defining characteristics?
  • Where can you go for help with citations, paraphrasing, and other academic integrity issues?

Sample Lesson: Academic Integrity Matters


Further Readings

[1] Lee, R. G. & Burns, L. M. (n.d.). 50 ways to jumpstart academic integrity discussions in your class. Retrieved from Quinnipiac University's website: