Academic integrity is a fundamental value in the educational environment. It spreads the principles of honesty, respect, trust, and responsibility, thus helping students to be more conscientious and efficient in gaining the knowledge and skills necessary for their future life and career.
Nowadays, with fast technological development and the growing popularity of remote learning, it’s becoming more challenging to preserve honesty in the educational sphere. In this article, we will outline what academic integrity is, why it is crucial to uphold it, and what the best strategies are to do that.
What is Academic Integrity?
Academic integrity is a key principle of education that implies that all members of the academic community (students, educators, researchers, administrators, and others) act with six core values: honesty, trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, and courage. In addition, it refers to developing authentic ideas, acknowledging the work of others, and being engaged in one’s own learning process.
Violation of integrity is known as academic misconduct or dishonesty. It may appear in many various forms such as plagiarism, cheating, assistance in cheating, falsification, fabrication, and others. Any type of academic dishonesty represents an explicit threat to the effectiveness of the learning process. It may not only result in severe academic penalties such as suspension and expulsion, but also hinder the development of skills crucial for students’ professional life.
It’s crucial to note that many students don’t cheat intentionally, especially when it comes to plagiarism. They just don’t know how to cite and paraphrase properly. However, just as with the law system, ignorance is not an excuse. Thus, students who fail to acknowledge someone’s contribution to their assignment are considered cheaters and face the same consequences as students who misconduct deliberately.
Why Does Academic Integrity Matter?
Building and upholding academic integrity is a paramount step in ensuring the learning and professional success of your students. Here are the main reasons why:
- Learning productivity. Commitment to the principles of integrity makes students concentrate more on their academic progress rather than performance. As a result, they gain important knowledge and skills more effectively.
- Preparation for professional life. Integrity is a crucial element not only in the studying process but also in the professional world. Trust, responsibility, and honesty are key characteristics of a successful leader.
- Delivering value. Academic integrity allows students to present their original ideas, express their opinion, and feel proud of their achievements. Moreover, employers prefer to hire graduates with a strong commitment to a moral code.
- Reduction of stress. Integrity lets students feel peace of mind, understanding that even if they haven’t received the highest grade, they were acting in the right way. Academic honesty helps students to be more relaxed, efficient, confident, and goal-oriented.
- Reputation. If students follow the ideas of integrity, they eliminate the risks of academic penalties and other consequences that can damage their learning and professional reputation.
How to Uphold Academic Integrity
It’s rather challenging to uphold student honesty in the classroom. This task is becoming even more complicated in the digital environment. Although cheating and other forms of misconduct have been preoccupying the academic community for a long time, there is still no universal solution to this problem. Every educational institution has to come up with an individual approach that will work best for their students. Let’s have a look at some techniques on how to maintain academic integrity.
Course and Assessment Design
If you want to prevent your students from behaving unethically, the first thing to do is to understand why they choose the easy way. Dishonesty can derive from a fear of failure, poor time management, the desire to get a better grade, disinterest in a subject, heavy study load, etc. To keep students engaged, it’s crucial to:
- design an up-to-date course;
- analyze the details of the academic program to find out if there are any repetitive assignments;
- set clear learning objectives;
- ensure that students have all the necessary materials to prepare for the assessments.
Effective communication and trustful relationships with students are among the most important elements helping to uphold academic integrity. It’s crucial to establish a learning atmosphere of asking questions and expressing opinions. Students who feel trustful and respectful towards their professors are less likely to cheat out of fear of disappointing them. What’s more, it’s reasonable to discuss the problem of dishonesty, explaining its potential dangers. Even if it doesn’t eliminate misconduct in the classroom, it will offer students some food for thought.
Nowadays, when e-learning has gained immense popularity, teachers have to find ways to maintain integrity not only in the classroom but also in the digital environment. As a result, many educational institutions have started to adopt various proctoring solutions, such as ProctorEdu, that can deter student dishonesty and ensure the security of online assessments. Every type of proctoring, be it live online, auto, or AI proctoring, comes with a big choice of customizable features, so every academic institution can choose functions and metrics that comply best with its goals.
Tips for Upholding Academic Integrity
In addition to course design, efficient communication with your students, and cutting-edge technologies, there are many other things to keep in mind when safeguarding academic integrity. Here are some useful tips to pay attention to:
- Use different types of assignments. Offer your students different forms of assignments that will help them develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and analytical skills.
- Develop a learning community. Provide your students with clear learning objectives and encourage collaboration between them.
- Discuss academic integrity. Explain to the students what academic integrity is and why it is important. Educate them about the consequences of cheating.
- Create an honor code and honor council. This technique helps to spread the ideas of integrity not only vertically (from educators to students) but also horizontally (from student to student).
- Reflect on assessments. Encourage discussion between students, so they can share their approach to the assignment or discuss some challenging questions in the test.
- Practice using anti-cheating tools. Have your students implement anti-plagiarism applications and ensure they know how to cite correctly. Moreover, it is reasonable to practice conducting proctored tests before implementing this technology for high-stake assessments.
Academic integrity is essential at any level of education, be it high school, college, or university. Students who follow the principles of honesty, trust, and respect not only gain knowledge more efficiently but also prepare themselves for the professional world, where these ideas are crucial for success.
To uphold integrity, educational institutions have to understand the reasons why their students cheat. Only then is it possible to develop strategies and make use of technological solutions to decrease dishonesty and foster students to follow the academic moral code.
What does it mean to uphold academic integrity?
To uphold academic integrity means to understand the reasons why students behave unethically, establish trustful relationships with them, encourage communication, and develop a course that will engage them in the learning process. Moreover, upholding integrity in the digital environment implies the use of remote proctoring solutions.
How do you enforce academic integrity?
There are many different strategies and tips to maintain academic integrity. It’s crucial to develop a learning community where students will clearly understand course objectives and have all the necessary information to prepare for their assignments. Moreover, it’s necessary to ensure that your students are not afraid to ask questions and express their opinion.
Why do we need to uphold academic integrity?
Academic integrity brings value to education. It helps students gain knowledge and skills that are important for their future life and career. Moreover, students who follow the moral code eliminate the risks of penalties and consequences coming with academic misconduct. When it comes to educational institutions, high academic integrity is fundamental to their excellent reputation.