Kennesaw State University

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Creating Course Environments to Promote Academic Integrity

Mar 04, 2019 | by Traci Stromie | Kennesaw State University

We have all dealt with it before – seeing a student looking at their classmate’s quiz, reviewing online exam footage to find a student using outside materials, or realizing a student’s TurnItIn report had a high match rate of another student’s paper. These situations probably make you feel hurt, upset, or even angry.

What should you do when this happens? First, you should follow the SCAI (Student Conduct and Academic Integrity) Academic Misconduct Resolution Process by reaching out to discuss evidence and see if students have prior incidents. Reporting academic misconduct to the Department of SCAI is important after academic dishonesty has occurred as a way to uphold the integrity of our courses and degrees. The faculty handbook states that faculty are expected to “communicate and enforce KSU’s policy with respect to academic integrity” (pg. 18). In addition, consider implementing strategies for maintaining academic integrity in the future. 

Here are some general strategies for creating course environments to promote academic integrity.

Discuss academic misconduct and the university policies.

By explaining the different types of misconduct, students will be informed as to what is considered cheating, plagiarism, etc. and what is not. This reduces someone’s ability to claim ignorance of wrongdoing. Did you know that the KSU Student Codes of Conduct document defines seven types of misconduct? (pg. 18, n.d.) 

Create an “Honor Code” for your course.

As a group, decide on values that everyone will commit to during the semester. Students can craft statements they will agree to in terms on being honest on assignments, tests, and within group communication tools. They can also decide what to do if they discover classmates violating the Honor Code.

Communicate the relevancy of the assessments.

In order to show the importance of the course assessments, connect the tests, assignments, and projects to the course objectives and real-world skills. Explicitly showing the relevance of the material can help increase student motivation. Augustus Jordan (who led a 2005 study about what motivates students to cheat) said, “… As intrinsic motivation for a course drops, and/or as extrinsic motivation rises, cheating goes up” (as cited in Novotney, 2011).  

Reduce the pressure to cheat by scaffolding and pacing assignments throughout the semester.

Often, students put pressure on themselves to cheat on mid-terms and finals because often this is the only opportunity they have to show mastery. If you design assignments that are scaffolded (increasing in difficulty) and paced (occurring at regular intervals throughout the semester) students feel less anxiety that their grade is riding on one or two high-stakes assessments. Having students turn in assignment milestones throughout the semester allows them to submit work and integrate feedback before submitting a final product for one large grade. (Ambrose, S., Lovett, M., Bridges, M., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M., 2010)

Ask students to generate test questions that may appear on an exam.

This helps you have a sense of what the students think is important based on the materials and course activities. Reviewing the student-generated questions and addressing gaps in perceived importance can help students have a better sense of what to expect on a test. Also, students may feel more prepared for the exam by practicing with these test questions. (Angelo & Cross, 1993)

Provide explicit guidelines for assessments.

Clarifying expectations and rules for assignments and exams is another crucial part of preventing academic dishonesty. Letting students know upfront which resources and materials can be used for assessments can prevent confusion and frustration for both students and instructors.

KSU provides extensive support for instructors when academic misconduct occurs. Be sure to visit the Department of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity for faculty resources. You can also set up a consultation with a CETL staff member to discuss how to integrate authentic and alternative assessments into your courses.

Are you using other strategies to promote academic integrity in your course? We would love to hear about them. Share with us below!

References and Resources

Ambrose, S., Lovett, M., Bridges, M., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Angelo, T., & Cross, K. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Novotney, A. (2011). Beat the cheat. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/06/cheat 

Solve a teaching problem: Students cheat on assignments and exams. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/solveproblem/strat-cheating/index.html

The Kennesaw State University student codes of conduct. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://scai.kennesaw.edu/KSU_Codes_of_Conduct_2018-2019.pdf 

Using honour codes in the classroom. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/resources/teaching-strategies/academic-integrity/using-honour-codes-in-the-classroom/