Academic Dishonesty and Designing Assignments
Faculty may want to discuss the four topics below at the beginning
of the semester or school year:
1. Encourage students to recognize the value of individual
effort in the academic setting.
Students may not be aware of the high value the academic community
in our culture places on individual effort. Attitudes toward individual
work and what we call academic integrity can differ from culture
to culture. In some contexts such as the corporate world, collaborative
writing is the norm. Teams of people may collaborate on documents,
with no particular author getting the credit other than the company
or organization. This is accepted and expected. But the academic
environment is competitive, and we place a high value on recognizing
and honoring the work of the finest individual or team (Ashworth,
1997; see also Martin, 1994,)
In some contexts, copying the works of others is deemed a sign
of respect. Some student may come from cultures where using someone
else’s work is the norm (Georgetown Honor Council, n.d.).
It can be very helpful to elaborate on the meaning of our academic
setting and how it differs from other settings. It can also be helpful
to let students know you recognize them as creators of intellectual
property covered by copyright protection, and that the works of
other creators is copyright protected and needs to be respected.
Guide to Student Copyright can be enlightening on this subject.
2. Encourage students to respect their
readers and the culture of learning by providing
the documentation needed to do further research.
Students may indeed be tempted by the competitive nature sometimes
present in the academic setting to claim the words of another as
their own. They may see it as a quick means to a higher grade, greater
prestige, and so on. Additionally, they may underestimate the value
of their own work within the academic setting and fail to see that
we highly value accurate documentation and attribution
of the words of others! While we value the student’s own creativity,
students need to recognize another aspect of our competitive scholarly
culture they may not have thought of before, i.e. preservation!
Faculty can help students recognize that they are part of a community,
and in that community we assume different roles from time to time.
At times we are the creators, and at other times we preserve the
culture and help it grow when we document and give attribution.
When we preserve the words of others and accurately point to their
location and origin, we are also fostering further scholarship.
This feature of scholarship would be easily lost without attribution.
3. Encourage students to respect the institution’s
reasons for academic integrity.
Students need to recognize that the institution is responsible
for certifying genuine learning outcomes, and that the grades and
diplomas institutions award are based on their student’s true
knowledge and skills. In fact, in some cases, documentation of genuine
learning outcomes is needed in order to obtain or keep accreditation.
Academic dishonesty threatens the institution’s mission and
cannot be accepted.
4. Encourage students to respect their fellow students
and compete on a level playing field.
Faculty can appeal to students’ sense of fairness and morality
when making the case for academic integrity. Some institutions subscribe
to honor codes, where students pledge that the work they turn in
is their own. If your institution does not, you can still appeal
to students’ sense of fairness and find that most will abide
by the rules and meet expectations. The issue is taken so seriously
by faculty and institutions that tools and methods have been developed
to detect plagiarism, for example. Faculty may want to point students
to the VAIL
Guide to Detection Tools and Methods to reinforce the point.