Academic Integrity Best Practices

Academic Integrity Best Practices

Academic Integrity Best Practices

  • Tips Regarding Syllabus Statements
  • Tips Regarding Assignments
  • Tips on Violation Processing

Tips Regarding Syllabus Statements

  1. Make sure your syllabus has a statement regarding academic integrity, and what the specific consequences are of violations in your class. In any course you teach, even independent studies, make up a syllabus that is explicit about the expectations and penalties for violations of academic integrity. 
  2. If you intend to give a zero for an assignment if there is an academic integrity violation, say so. Do not say you will give an F for the assignment. If you intend to give an F for the course, state that explicitly.
  3. If you use the general University statement, add specific direct statements about cheating and plagiarism on in-class exams, take home exams, group work, lab reports, research papers, etc. Customize examples to your assignments.
  4. If you use the general University statement, amplify the more difficult vocabulary. For example, make sure the students understand that if they aid, assist, or make it easier for other students to cheat, they are facilitating violations of academic integrity; and, thus, in violation of the policy themselves. Facilitation can be Active or Passive. For example, Active Facilitation could take the form of deliberately and intentionally circulating information that students should not have (such as an exam) that would allow some or all students to have an unfair advantage. An example of Passive Facilitation would be when a student is aware of cheating, but fails to alert the instructor or appropriate authority that a violation has occurred.
  5. Take a few minutes to review orally the academic integrity section of the syllabus. Do your best to create a climate of integrity by stressing the importance of honest work, pointing out that it is in the best interest of all students to maintain the reputation of their degree. Tolerating cheating by doing it, or not reporting it when it is observed, puts in jeopardy the integrity of everyone’s academic accomplishments.
  6. Be sure to include students who were absent or add the course late. Speak with them individually to deliver any information on academic integrity you orally delivered in their absence. Make sure everyone gets a copy of the syllabus, and any other material you provided in class.

Tips Regarding Assignments

  1. Remind students orally and in writing at the time you make assignments that violations of academic integrity are serious and will be handled as defined in the syllabus. Be particularly explicit about the risks for violations associated with the particular type of assignment you are giving.
  2. For individual writing assignments:

a. Explain plagiarism or provide references to resources (print, web) that help inform the student.
b. Caution them about “cut and paste” and the need to note sources with specificity at the time they cut and paste.
c. Be explicit about how you will grade a paper that is nothing more than an anthology of quotes (even properly cited ones.)
d. Clarify whether you will accept papers the student submitted or are submitting in other classes.
e. Explain the penalty for buying a paper, or allowing another person to write the paper.
f. Notify the student that may be invited to an oral interview to explain their use of vocabulary, argument, and sources in their paper in order to determine their grade if violations of academic integrity are suspected.
g. To avoid plagiarism, try to design the writing assignment so that it requires references to specific ideas discussed in the class, rather than an open-ended topic.

3. For oral presentations: Explain that plagiarism is possible in oral presentations if sources are quoted without identification, or if copyrighted materials are used in visuals without crediting the creator.

4. For exams:

a. Prior to the start of an exam, inform students if you do or do not permit the use of cell phones, tablet computers, or other communication devices during an exam. If such devices are not permitted, you should remind the students to put them away, where they are inaccessible during the exam. If the student has no place to put the device, it should be kept at the front instructor’s station until the exam is over. If a student has a legitimate need to handle a phone to deal with emergencies, the call should be handled in the presence of the instructor. Notify the students via verbal announcement, note at the top of the exam, note on the board about the sanction that will be imposed if a student handles a cell phone, tablet computer, or other such device during an exam.
b. To avoid cheating, utilize multiple exams within a section, common exam periods for courses in multiple sections.

5. For group work: Be explicit about expectations for individual performance vs. group performance. Specify which elements will be graded individually, which collectively, e.g. research, documentation, writing, presentation, lab report, etc.

Tips on Violation Processing

  1. Do NOT penalize a student for a violation of academic integrity without completing the Academic Integrity Form. Do not give a zero for violations without the form.
  2. Meet with the student with the form available for the student to see. If in your conversation with a student, you feel the violation resulted from a misunderstanding rather than unethical behavior, feel free to destroy the form, and work with the student on an alternate assignment.
  3. If multiple students are involved, meet with them individually, and maintain confidentiality of other students involved. You can withhold decisions about processing the forms, until all are consulted; but it is not a requirement. Keep the student informed about your plans.
  4. Retain all the original copies of all work the student(s) submitted in connection with the assignment in which the violation occurred. Return photocopies to the student.
  5. Have the student initial the academic integrity form acknowledging receipt of the form. Give this initialed form to the Academic Affairs Office (Gail Wray) for safekeeping. The student has 3 business days to consider accepting or contesting the charge and/or sanction.
  6. Do not discuss the student’s violation with anyone not officially involved in the process of implementing the charge and sanction. Maintain confidentiality.
  7. If you have any questions about the policies, procedures, or any matter related to Academic Integrity, contact the Director of Academic Affairs or the Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee (Julie Stanton, jstanton@psu.edu, 610.892.1450)