Strategic plans for most institutions are structured as follows:
- FOUNDATION: Mission Statement of Your Institution
- SUPPORTING STATEMENTS: Your Institution’s Values, Goals, and/or Vision
- STRATEGIC PLAN: Goals and Implementation
If your institution’s values include integrity, honesty, ethical conduct, respect, accountability, excellence, or other standards that reflect ethical learning, then a commitment to academic integrity should be an essential component of your strategic plan.
So how can we include academic integrity in our strategic plans? Let’s discuss the ways in which academic integrity supports the common components of an institutional strategic plan.
1. Recruit Distinguished Faculty
If your institution’s goals include recruiting distinguished faculty, then your academic reputation is of utmost importance. Academic integrity is a part of the fabric of your academic reputation, whether positive because you have faculty and a culture that promote academic integrity or negative because of cheating scandals.
2. Recruit, Retain, and Graduate Diverse Learners
Academic integrity enables recruiting, retaining, and graduating diverse learners. Your university must be attractive to a large student network--but it must also then address the different cultural contexts within such a student body. Expanded efforts to teach academic integrity skills, particularly to first-generation college students and international students, can only bolster student morale and increase retention. It is also a matter of course that student retention is a core part of an institution’s financial well-being.
3. Support Student Success
Academic Integrity is an essential part of student success because the ability to convey original thought and properly attribute the ideas of others is a core part of student learning. Enabling original thinking is at the forefront of higher education, so why not make sure to address academic integrity in your student success plan?
4. Prepare Students for the Future
Ample evidence suggests that a lack of academic integrity during school is directly linked to unethical behavior in the post-academic workplace. Allen, Fuller, and Luckett determined in 1998 the ways in which business students justified dishonest behavior in school reflect the same justification tactics used in business environments. In 2001, Nonis and Swift investigated a general link between academic dishonesty and workplace dishonesty in their paper, “An Examination of the Relationship Between Academic Dishonesty and Workplace Dishonesty.”
The research has only continued, each time validating past findings and prompting further research. In a 2011 paper titled “Student Cheating Habits: A predictor of workplace deviance,” Graves and Austin said that students who cheat on tests and homework, regardless of academic specialty, “are more likely to engage in certain deviant behaviors in the workplace.” To represent your academic institution with excellence, your students must graduate with an understanding of how to act with integrity and think originally in a competitive work environment.
5. Provide Digital Literacy
Digital literacy is increasingly critical in education--but with that access comes increased opportunities to engage in unethical behavior. We cannot shut off technology access to students, but we can support learning and mitigate unethical behavior by upholding academic integrity in their studies. It is too tempting for vulnerable and stressed students, especially those who have an incomplete understanding of academic integrity to fall prey to the narratives of essay mills or other emerging threats to academic integrity.
There are myriad ways in which academic integrity supports your institution’s strategic plan. These are but five of them and a place from which we hope you can continue your journey.
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