The office of academic integrity provides support and resources for faculty who are dealing with plagiarism, cheating and other issues of academic integrity. Its coordinator, Katie Stinnett, recently shared some thoughts that may be helpful for anyone looking to more effectively address these issues.
Common areas of concern
Stinnett described common areas of concern. Some relate to student activities (particularly social media behaviors), but there are other areas where faculty play proactive roles in prevention and enforcement.
Management and communication challenges
In Stinnett’s experience, students who are struggling with time management or communication are more vulnerable to choices that compromise their academic integrity.
Faculty can help by crafting clear, specific assignment instructions and making students aware of campus resources, such as the Writing Center and the counseling center, which helps students who feel overwhelmed and anxious about juggling class assignments.
Not understanding the consequences
Stinnett says that some students may be aware that they’re violating academic integrity but don’t believe the consequences will be that bad.
Accountability can change this dynamic, and it’s most effective when the standards are enforced consistently — across different disciplines and by different instructors. Stinnett encourages all faculty to register academic integrity concerns with her office, so that they can be properly documented and addressed.
Sometimes, Stinnett shared, even a student who wouldn’t consider plagiarizing someone else’s content may commit an academic integrity violation through self-plagiarism, or “double dipping.” This occurs when the student reuses original work for multiple classes.
Double dipping can be especially tricky for upper-level or graduate students, who are naturally inclined to work on the same subject matter across multiple classes.
Stinnett says that students who wish to revisit or reimagine work created for previous classes should be straightforward with their instructors.
Faculty can then help prevent self-plagiarism by providing clear criteria that will be used to judge a student’s new contributions or progress. For example, an instructor might require the student to turn in all the drafts of a project, so that the instructor can fully evaluate the significance of changes between drafts.
Adhering to academic integrity standards may become more complex during group assignments. One scenario Stinnett mentioned: one group member does not contribute to an assignment but is awarded credit based on the work of the group.
Stinnett suggested using group evaluation forms, which require each group member to assess the contributions of other group members. Requiring evaluations — and making students aware that they will be evaluated by their peers — can help hold individuals accountable in group assignments.
There is an academic integrity tutorial that can be added to any course’s Blackboard.
Find it by visiting: Blackboard > Content Collection > Institution Content > Academic Integrity Content
This tutorial is free for use in any course, and instructors can require students to review the tutorial and take the associated exam.
Academic Integrity Days
The office of academic integrity is hosting a series of events, March 28 – March 30. Stinnett shared that these events have been highly effective. “In a 60- or 90-minute session,” she said, “I can get through to students, partly because I’m not their teacher. I force reflection so that students will stop and think about their own behavior.”