Academic Integrity

Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity

Discuss the University’s Academic Integrity Policy early in the quarter.

  • Define intellectual property and copyright, and clarify the differences between plagiarism, paraphrasing, misuse of sources, and improper referencing.[2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8]
  • Explain that the implications of plagiarism extend beyond the classroom. Distribute the WWU Libraries' student handout on Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism.[2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8]
  • Set clear standards for assignments, grading, and citation that will be required of students. Include these standards and expectations on your syllabus.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8]

Model integrity and ethical behavior in your classroom.

  • This could include citing resources for each lecture, obtaining permission to show videos or distribute handouts, or giving positive reinforcement for students who model this behavior in their work.[2, 3, 8]
  • Enlist students to help create a culture of academic integrity. By emphasizing the importance and significance of academic integrity and giving students the responsibility to protect academic integrity within the classroom, students can be great allies for you in the classroom. Research suggests that students are more likely to cheat if they see or believe their peers are cheating, and that they often overestimate how many of their peers are cheating, so working to reduce that assumption and developing a shared moral code will reduce the likelihood that students will cheat.[2, 3, 7, 9, 10]

Avoiding Cheating and Protecting the Integrity of Exams

Developing the exam:

  • Develop questions that are meaningful to the course content and extend to students’ abilities to express and defend their understanding. Examples of questions include essay and short answer prompts.[1, 2, 8]
  • Reinforce the honor code by making the first exam question a statement of commitment to academic honesty. Much like a user agreement, this reminds students of their morality and encourages them to stop and think before they are tempted to cheat.[9]
  • As often as possible, change the exam questions, ideally from term to term.[2, 3, 7]
  • Scramble multiple choice exams by creating two versions with different question and/or option orders.[2, 5, 7]

Preparing students for the exam:

  • Set office hours and appointments before exams to meet individually with students and help them prepare.[1]
  • During class, office hours, and on the day of the exam; give clear oral and written instructions to students about what materials can and cannot be used.[2]

During the exam:

  • Validate students' identities by requiring students to display their ID on their desks during the exam, and mark each student on the attendance sheet and/or to record their student ID # on each exam in order to have their exam grade recorded.[2, 7]
  • Use alternate seating so that students who are close enough to see classmates' work won't have the same question order on their own exam.[2, 5, 7]
  • Carefully monitor the classroom during the exam by walking around the room and watching for wandering eyes.[1, 2, 5, 7]

Avoiding Plagiarism with Writing Assignments

  • Set clear expectations when it comes to writing assignments:
  • Explain research processes and expectations for resources, and ensure students have equal access to study materials. This includes teaching students how to use valid and reliable resources, both online and in libraries, and teaching students the expected citation standards.[3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]
  • Emphasize consequences of plagiarism via chatbots. AI written work may result in flags by plagiarism detectors–especially for the second student to submit.[9]
  • Design and implement assignments with intention:
  • Create assignments that require higher level learning. Test your prompts in an AI generator. Stress that the assignments are opportunities for rigorous learning and inquiry. When possible, change parts of the assignments for each offering of the course to reduce chances of students plagiarizing.[2, 4, 7, 8, 9]
  • Ask students to draw on and document a variety of sources, such as interviews, electronic resources, books, and lived experiences etc.[3, 4, 8, 9]
  • Implement chances to work with AI as learning opportunities. For example, have students grade an AI-generated essay, providing annotations and analysis. Consider allowing students to incorporate an AI quote into writing, cited as 3rd party AI content.[9]
  • Collect notes and drafts from students throughout the process. Watch for style and citation inconsistencies. Require students to submit their paper electronically and use an Internet tool such as TurnItIn or to check for plagiarism. Encourage them to run their drafts through these tools before they submit them to identify their own mistakes and learn from them before grades are at stake.[3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9]

What to Do If You Suspect Plagiarism

  • Compile a case by comparing the student’s current work to their work on previous assignments and/or comparing the work against original sources. Online tools like TurnItIn or can be helpful.[3]
  • Talk with the student directly to discuss what you noticed. This will help you identify the learning opportunity. Is this a student who doesn't understand proper citation expectations, or is this a deliberate case of cheating? Is this a first-time offense or part of a pattern? Understanding the student will clarify an appropriate course of action.[1, 4, 7]
  • Report possible cases of plagiarism to appropriate administrators or review boards, and notify the student of the action you have taken.[4]

Academic Integrity Resources

Also see these related pages in the Teaching Handbook:

WWU Resources:

Source Information