Supporting Academic Integrity Through Writing & Research Assignments: Strategies for Instructors
Academic integrity is an important part of university life, and a challenging topic to address with our students, particularly first-year undergraduates.
Adopting a variety of strategies to teach and support academic integrity in your class can reduce infractions and help students learn key skills for success at university.
1. Incorporate academic integrity into your course design
- Include an academic integrity statement in your syllabus
- Consider breaking larger assignments into steps or smaller assignments (often called ‘scaffolding’). Among the benefits, this practice may make plagiarism more difficult
- Ensure consistent assessment of academic integrity issues. For example, consider using a rubric that includes criteria relevant to academic integrity, such as correct citation and legitimate paraphrase/summary to ensure consistent marking across tutorial sessions.
You may also wish to provide your TAs with some guidance on interpreting Turnitin.com reports to ensure they are all assessing the reports in the same way.
- Consider practices recommended by U of T Writing Centres for deterring plagiarism
2. Discuss academic integrity with your students
- Define academic integrity and ensure students understand what it is. Highlight what it means in your discipline, course and specific assignments. Consider discussing academic integrity as part of training in professionalism
- Highlight practices of your own discipline, providing and discussing relevant examples. Model academic integrity through course materials, readings, slides etc. Encourage students to ask questions. Tip: Consider speaking to your students about codes of ethics for your professional organizations so that they can see the standards to which scholars in your area are held.
- Ensure assignment instructions include an explanation of what is and is not allowed.
(Remember that your students will have worked under different expectations in high school. As well as different expectations in other courses, possibly even within your own department)
- Emphasize that there are rules for academic integrity at the university and that there are consequences for breaking the rules. These rules support academic standards and fairness for all students.
Encourage students to attend the campus Academic Integrity Matters workshop.
For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Ensure your students have academic skills needed for your assignments.
Identify academic skills that students will need to complete your assignment. (Examples: Writing, paraphrasing/summary, research, using citation etc.) Consider if they have these skills, or if there are gaps in their academic skills.
- If needed, help students learn academic skills needed to complete your assignment. Please contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning and/or UTSC Library for support.
Centre for Teaching and Learning - Contact Us: https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/ctl/faculty
UTSC Library - Liaison Librarians: https://utsc.library.utoronto.ca/librarians
4. Encourage student self-evaluation of their work to ensure academic integrity.
Consider including an academic integrity checklist with your assignments to encourage your students to check their work, such as the following one from York University.
Consider allowing students to use Turnitin.com to assess their own drafts for any academic integrity violations.
5. Be aware of policies and procedures to follow if you suspect a student has committed an academic offence
Ensure that you and your TAs know about the process for reporting suspected academic offences at UTSC. Familiarize yourself with procedures as required under the Code of Behaviours on Academic Matters.
6. Be aware of how an academic offence allegation may affect student mental health.
Regardless of the circumstances, students who are faced with an allegation of academic offences may react with panic or extreme anxiety. Be ready to provide students with contact information for Health & Wellness and other mental health resources.
Students may panic about the impact that the offence will have on their GPA, graduate school applications, or career plans. Students can visit counsellors in AA&CC to address these issues.