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Educators are consistently advised to create a “culture of integrity” within our classrooms. So how do we go about establishing such a culture?

1. First things first, let’s address why honesty is important:

  • Dishonesty affects morale. Students want to be empowered--academic dishonesty is a last resort for many. Dishonesty is also discouraging for students who engage in academic integrity.
  • A pattern of dishonesty, once established, continues: past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, well into post-academic life. There is research that links a pattern of academic dishonesty with later workplace deviance.
  • Dishonesty is contagious and the reason why the use of essay mills and plagiarism becomes widespread on campuses.

2. If we want to address academic dishonesty, we must also understand the greater motivations behind dishonesty.

Why do people lie? Research indicates that people lie to protect ourselves, our interests, our image, our resources, and to protect others.

3. When we address academic integrity, we must address the above issues.

We must make clear how important an honest classroom is for morale and for establishing life-long patterns. And for creating a trusting community. Make sure to address academic integrity on your syllabus--both by defining it and stating consequences.

4. Incorporate lessons that reinforce academic integrity throughout your course.

When teaching citations, have students cite each other. Or use journalism as an example of how citations are made. Make the lesson more tangible and personal, instead of making it merely a formatting issue.

5. Setting clear expectations is important.

It’s part of our transparency as educators to be clear of what we expect from our students, and then consistently uphold these expectations throughout our time with students. Modeling this consistency is important to supporting academic integrity because when we as educators act with integrity, students receive the lesson implicitly and environmentally.

As we shepherd our students throughout the writing process, it’s important to uphold academic integrity throughout all drafts, whether through feedback or expectations. Citations should be present in a student’s first draft, and we should provide positive feedback to students who include citations from the first draft and beyond. In this way, we exclude the possibility of students “forgetting” to include citations in their final draft.

Additionally, earlier intervention with academic dishonesty works proactively to correct and prevent later dishonesty.

We hope these points help you in your journey of creating a classroom culture that is imbued with academic integrity and conducive to original thinking.

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