Promoting Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

While the Code of Student Behaviour provides the rules and regulations, the Academic Integrity program provides the education for prevention of academic misconduct and the promotion of academic integrity.

The program is based on a project undertaken by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI). It promotes the values essential to academic integrity as the basis for achieving a culture of integrity on post-secondary campuses. The five Fundamental Values are honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. To enact these values in the face of adversity also requires courage.

The promotion of these values with respect to academic integrity is a key part of the educational process. While students, faculty and administration need to be informed about the Code of Student Behaviour, it is beneficial to discuss why we hold ourselves to those standards. The Fundamental Values are a good starting place for that conversation.

There are some very simple ways to build integrity education into the classroom and demonstrate your belief that this is an important issue. Chances are good that your students will follow your lead. Because the demands and objectives of each course are different, not all of the suggestions are appropriate for all situations. Be sure to customize your prevention program to the needs of your class for optimum effectiveness. Students respond better to situation-specific instructions than generic ones.  Choose whatever tips are useful in your classroom and applicable to your assignments and exams.

Promoting Academic Integrity

  1. Make your expectations clear and explicit. For example, you might discuss how the Code’s definition of plagiarism applies to the specific assignments in your class.
  2. Engage your students in a discussion about academic integrity. They will more likely retain the conversation when they participate. In particular, have them think about how other students in the class are affected by academic dishonesty.
  3. Make sure the academic integrity policy is explicitly stated on your syllabus. The statement required by the University is included in the Evaluation Procedures and Grading System section of the University of Alberta Calendar (section 23.4).
  4. Give examples of times when you personally struggled to do the right thing in your academic work. This alerts students to the reality that academic integrity might not always be a simple matter.

Integrity Education

Whitley and Keith-Spiegel identify a connection between what happens in the classroom and students’ attitudes about academic integrity. Students are more likely to embrace academic integrity when they believe their professors are fair, respectful, trustworthy and honest [1] – the same qualities we expect of them. McCabe and Christenson-Hughes showed similar findings in their academic integrity study of Canadian universities [2].

An integrated approach to academic integrity should include integrity education and clear, fair, universally applied policies. Noah and Eckstein [3] propose four tactics to minimize academic misconduct:
  1. Reduce incentives, or reduce the potential (or perceived) benefits of cheating,
  2. Reduce opportunity and maximize probability for detection, that is, set up situational constraints,
  3. Clarify, publicize and enforce sanctions, and
  4. Build an academic community that regards academic misconduct as unacceptable. Peer disapproval is one of the strongest deterrents to academic dishonesty.

[1] Whitley, B.E. and Keith-Spiegel, P. (2002). Academic Dishonesty: an Educator’s Guide. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[2] Christensen Hughes, J.M. and McCabe, D.L. (2006). Academic Misconduct within Higher Education in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, (36)2, 1-21.
[3] Noah, H.J. and Eckstein, M.A. (2001). Fraud and Education: the Worm in the Apple. Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield. 136.