Strengthening academic integrity requires action from students and teachers alike
Eunice Costilla Cruz offers recommendations for promoting academic integrity in your students and how to deal with an offence
You may also like
As teachers, we are committed not only to our students’ education but also their professional, ethical and civic development, hopefully inspiring them to be upstanding and honest in all areas and spaces where they have to perform duties. To help meet this end, in this piece I will share some ideas for strengthening your students’ academic integrity.
Try organising a talk with your students in which you provide a presentation on academic integrity. You should explain the institutional programme on academic integrity, what is expected from students in their assignments, the sanctions in place for offences, which tool/s will be used to verify the originality of the documents submitted, etc. Include examples in your explanations and clarify any questions your students may have.
- Everything you always wanted to know about open-book exams – but were afraid to ask
- A unique approach to designing robust, calculation-based online assessments
- Cut the copying: tips to discourage plagiarism
Graphic or audiovisual resources
It’s useful to generate illustrations or multimedia material that helps you inform your students about academic integrity in a schematic, concise and agile way. Such resources might be infographics, posters or interactive images, in all of which you can creatively use text and illustration. Regarding audiovisuals, try creating short videos that use effects and a variety of elements to diversify the visual stimulation you give to students. Canva, Genially and Piktochart are just a few examples of platforms you can use to create these resources.
Take advantage of any moments of closeness you experience with students via email and incorporate in these messages a reminder about the importance of good practices. Highlight the reminder with a distinctive feature such as bold, underlined, a different colour or different typography or font size. You can also embed a banner, phrase or image into your emails if it feels natural.
Citations and references
Always reiterate the importance of citing and referencing other people’s work, inform students about the academic format they should use for their texts (for example, APA) and share didactic material to orient and help students in case they have any questions. In your feedback on assignments, acknowledge when they have done well on citing and referencing. On the other hand, in the case of errors or omissions, correct the work and guide the student to perform this area correctly. After all, it is well noted that a great many instances of failed “academic integrity” actually come down to students not being aware of the correct methods and conventions.
Assignments and exams
When planning your course, include activities that promote reflection, analysis, critical thinking, creativity and the application of learned concepts. Avoid assigning homework or exams asking for direct textual information from the content or didactic materials. Examples of useful assignments include case analysis following a specific methodology (you can find them on official educational sites), infographics, research posters, mind maps, interviews, discussion of films, creative proposals to solve a problem, videos presenting an explanation or answering a trigger question, debates in plenary sessions, etc. For exams, incorporate essay-type questions, synthesis, analysis and evaluation of situations.
Invite your students to conferences or sessions organised at the institutional level that are focused on academic integrity. Also schedule a visit to the library or plan a workshop with their staff to learn about the library’s services, reference and citation formats, search systems and databases, research processes, how to identify reliable sources, etc. This will help familiarise students with this academic environment, reiterate the principles of referencing and will be helpful when setting activities that require research and argumentation.
What to do in the event of an academic integrity offence
Firstly, always follow the rules of your institution. However, before proceeding, you must verify that it is an academic integrity offence. If it is, then review the institution’s regulations regarding sanctions, notify the student of the situation, schedule a meeting to discuss the case and allow the student to explain their position. During the process, answer any questions the student might have about penalties and continue to follow up on their performance during the semester, encouraging them to conduct themselves with integrity through the presentation of well-argued and well-researched work.
Individually, but more importantly collectively, practices such as those outlined above can contribute to creating a culture of academic integrity, although adequate development will require the participation of both teacher and student.
Eunice Costilla Cruz is a tutor professor, educational innovation and digital learning, at Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico.
If you found this interesting and want advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week, sign up for the THE Campus newsletter.