Academic Integrity

There are several simple ways to build integrity education into the classroom and demonstrate your belief that this is an important issue. Be sure to customize your prevention program to the needs of your class; students respond better to situation-specific instructions than generic ones.

  1. Make your expectations clear and explicit. For example, you might discuss how the Code's definition of plagiarism applies to the specific assignments in your class.
  2. Engage your students in a discussion about academic integrity. They will more likely retain the conversation when they participate. In particular, have them think about how other students in the class are affected by academic dishonesty.
  3. Make sure the academic integrity policy is explicitly stated on your syllabus. The statement required by the University is included in the Evaluation Procedures and Grading System section of the University of Alberta Calendar (section 23.4).
  4. Give examples of how you practice academic integrity in your academic work. This alerts students to the reality that academic integrity might not always be a simple matter.


Preventing Academic Misconduct

Preventing Cheating
  • Discuss cheating and academic integrity in class, especially right before a test or exam.
  • Change your exam every term. Even minor changes, such as changing the order of questions, using a question bank, or altering numerical values, will make a difference.
  • Use alternating formats so students seated next to each other are not writing identical exams. Do not tell students you have used alternating exams when you have not.
  • Wherever possible, seat students with space in between them.
  • Provide scratch paper if required, rather than allowing students to bring their own.
  • Record the seating arrangement where possible.
  • Where possible, use long answer/essay format.
  • Formulate questions in which students are required to apply knowledge rather than memorize and reproduce answers.
  • Have students put all bags/coats/hats/electronic devices at the front or side of the room. Remind them that even possessing material that could be used for cheating is an offence under the Code.
  • If possible, have students answer directly on the exam rather than in an exam booklet.
  • Be aware of technologies that could be used for cheating, e.g. programmable calculators, cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, etc. See also the Examinations section of the University of Alberta Calendar (section 23.5).
  • Be explicit about possible sanctions for cheating, including failure on the exam, failure in the course, suspension, and expulsion.
Preventing Inappropriate Collaboration
  • Specify how much, if any, collaboration is allowed and how it should be acknowledged.
  • Provide a protocol for group work specific to the assignment.
  • Clearly explain how group assignments will be assessed.
  • Make sure your students know that working together when they have been instructed to work individually is an offence under the Code (Plagiarism and/or Cheating).
  • Be explicit about acceptable use of tutors, editors and translators. Refer students to the Student Code of Behaviour section 30.3.2(2)c.
Preventing Plagiarism
  • Discuss appropriate use of sources and plagiarism in class. Acknowledge that proper citation is a skill that requires practice.
  • Make it clear that all sources - print or electronic - must be cited.
  • Give clear guidelines for format and citation style.
  • Provide bibliography and citation resources (e.g. websites, textbooks, handouts, etc.).
  • Assign essay topics that are specific to your course and timely in nature, and therefore impossible to find on the Internet.
  • Assign questions that require evaluation, reasoning, or personal reflection on assignments.
  • Analyze an essay taken from an online paper mill in class. This provides dual benefits in that your students learn that you are aware of the cheating resources, and they also learn that the quality of the essays provided can be questionable.
  • Assign papers in stages: outline, bibliography, rough draft, final draft. In doing so, you emphasize the value of starting early.
  • Use in-class writing assignments.
  • Give assignments in which the objective is to critique websites, thereby avoiding the temptation for students to copy them.
  • Be explicit about possible sanctions, including failure on the essay, failure in the course, suspension or worse.
  • Be sure to note that unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism.