Here are some modest suggestions for how to promote academic integrity:

  1. On your syllabus and before or on each significant assignment or assessment, state your expectations regarding academic honesty and dishonesty for your course along with appropriate definitions. Keep in mind that other faculty in other disciplines and courses may define academic dishonesty differently and that students will most likely assume a broader range of what is allowed than you might if your expectations are not clear.

For example:

  • You should teach first-year students what plagiarism is and you should remind more advanced students about what constitutes plagiarism.
  • You should give a clear explanation of what kinds of collaboration are acceptable and what are not. You should remind students occasionally of what the policy is (at least before each major assignment).
  1. Discuss academic integrity: Explain to students what it is and why it matters; help them become invested in the academic enterprise. Think of ways in which academic integrity isn’t just the absence of academic dishonesty, but is rather a positive practice that results in better learning.
  2. You should not incentivize cheating (e.g. perhaps a timed, closed-book, take-home exam isn’t a good idea).
  3. You should design assignments and exams to discourage cheating. Be creative in your assignments so that students can’t just copy something off the internet or buy a pre-fab paper, require drafts of major papers to be turned in to monitor progress along the way, avoid having only one high-stakes assignment, etc.
  4. Proctor your exams. You should pay attention to what students are doing during their exams. In particular, watch for surreptitious mobile phone use. Our surveys indicate that students want you to proctor – it gives them confidence that their classmates aren’t cheating.
  5. Train students in appropriate use of online resources. There are numerous websites which allow students to post questions and receive answers from other folks on the internet. There are also sites which allow students to share completed projects or exams in exchange for access to other course materials. Many of these sites have the veneer of legitimacy. You should assume that students will make use of the internet in your courses. It is best if you provide appropriate online resources for them and specifically address what kinds of resources are appropriate and inappropriate.
  6. Make significant revisions to your assignments and exams. There are rumors of shared files on the internet and by various groups on campus containing all the assignments and exams from courses dating to years past. Changing your assignments and exams from year to year not only keeps the course fresh, it also gives students confidence that their classmates aren’t cheating and increases how much most students learn.
  7. Keep records. For instance, If you give specific verbal instructions regarding the rules for a project or exam, follow-up with an email. If you suspect two students of improper collaboration, make photocopies/scans of their work. If you plan to assign the same paper or project in multiple semesters, keep copies of student work from previous semesters.
  8. Report academic dishonesty and negligence. Reporting enables repeat offenders to be held accountable and sends the message that academic dishonesty is an offense against the community and academic enterprise as a whole. Not reporting sends the message that academic dishonesty is acceptable and may open you to charges of unfairness. Assigning a sanction in violation of Colby policy may also make you personally liable. Our system is designed to protect both faculty and students from unjust accusations and sanctions and is part of a larger effort to promote a culture of academic integrity at Colby. Academic dishonesty can be reported via your course roster or by sending an email to the Academic Integrity Coordinator (rebecca.conry@colby.edu).
  9. Consider putting structures in place to promote academic integrity. For example, your department could craft a departmental code of ethics based on a code of ethics from a relevant professional association. Make it a habit to discuss academic integrity with your advisees. When relevant to your course, highlight the work of whistleblowers or others who are concerned with ethics.
  10. Use some or all of the academic integrity section of the Colby Student Handbook to promote academic integrity and/or to deter academic dishonesty.