Promoting Integrity & Preventing Misconduct

"fried-egg" poppies in arboretum

Creating a Climate of Academic Integrity in the Classroom

Research about cheating in the classroom has established that students are influenced by the attitudes and behavior of both their peers and their instructors. For example, students cheat more when faculty do nothing. If students perceive that cheating is easy and safe and that faculty won't report them, cheating increases. If faculty report cheating and there are meaningful sanctions, consistently enforced, cheating is reduced. Likewise, students cheat more when they are disinterested in the class. Conversely, students cheat less when they feel that faculty genuinely care whether they learn, and when the instructor is enthusiastic about the subject and dedicated to teaching.

Research also indicates that students cheat more when they believe that their peers accept, condone, or encourage cheating. This seems to be why honor codes make a difference –because students hold their peers accountable. The number of students at UC Davis reporting peers to their instructors for academic dishonesty has significantly increased in the past few years.

How can faculty create a climate of academic integrity in the classroom?

  • Faculty should inspire, encourage, and model integrity, behaving honestly and respectfully towards students and colleagues. Difficult ethical issues that may arise in the academic or professional field of study need to be discussed, not avoided, and professional and ethical standards that can help resolve such questions need to be part of the curriculum.
  • Faculty should highlight campus standards regarding academic integrity as well as their own expectations for ethical behavior in the course syllabus and during class discussions.
  • Faculty should set clear standards for assignments, tests, and grading, and clearly define rules for collaboration and citation.
  • Faculty should enlist students' help in creating a climate of integrity in the classroom. Talk to the class about how academic integrity is critical to the learning process and enhances the quality of education for instructors as well as students. Help students understand how honest work builds skills, knowledge, and self-esteem, while cheating and plagiarism do not.

In summary, it is critical to establish the existence of clear rules as well as guidelines for work and classroom behavior. It is important to communicate that these standards will be consistently enforced. Students need to understand that violations of the UC Davis Code of Academic Conduct will be addressed with disciplinary sanctions, and that multiple incidents of dishonest conduct will lead to a student’s separation from the University. Lastly, it is important to remind students that cheating is not only dishonest but is also unfair to other students.

Edited on 2/3/2019 by slh