This week, I am exploring the next two pillars of Gentile’s (2012) Giving Voice to Values: self-knowledge and voice. When people possess a more intimate knowledge of themselves, they can better uphold their desired self-image. This can help people focus on aligning their values with how they view themselves, making them more likely to speak and act on those values. Self-knowledge also provides an insight into people’s “voice” or their approach to standing up for personal values. It can put people in touch with the appropriate framework.

Borrowing from Dees & Crampton (1991)’s framework, we can understand idealists as those who act on their values no matter the cost, opportunists as those who focus on material well-being over values, and pragmatists as those who balance material welfare with values. Gentile argues that people need to view voicing vales as the pragmatic choice, and to do this we need “…to create our own narrative about who we are and how being this particular person enables us to act on our values, as well as what particular risks we face due to this identity” (Gentile, 2012, p. 113). Gentile provides self-assessment questions to begin this reflection process.

I use a free personality test to encourage students to think about how they build their identities. Then, we discuss their results. We review strengths, tying them in to serving as an Academic Honesty Panelist or a Peer Educator. Then we consider how these strengths will serve them as an ethical leader in future careers. We also review their weaknesses, discussing how they can be transformed into skills or how we can compensate for them in our decision making. We tie values to personality, navigating surprises and practicing standing up for ethical behavior.

 I have found that this is time well spent for students, as they reframe the idea of “‘voice’ as ‘dialogue,’ which includes a goodly dollop of ‘listening’…[because] by listening we sometimes identify the most effective ways to influence our audience” (Gentile, 2012, p. 138). By playing to their strengths, students can evaluate situations and consider how to best approach voicing their values.

Helping students find their voice with academic integrity requires a multifaceted approach. Students can watch mentors voice their opinions, so I would encourage you to watch what older students are doing and saying about academic integrity. Students are often intimidated by faculty and staff, but they listen to peers who have lived similar experiences.

Gentile (2012) recommends that readers view opinions and preferences from supervisors not as orders, but as suggestions. There are pedagogical techniques that can help you build this into your assessments. Plus, they follow suggestions from Lang (2013) and others for providing students autonomy and agency in their assessments, both of which promote academic integrity.

Students can also learn how to voice their values in both form and substance. While substance matters – we certainly want students to be versed in academic integrity – form can have the greatest impact. If a student is a charismatic leader, they may sway a group to turn in honest work or stop the class GroupMe from running wild. But not every student is comfortable putting their name on the line in front of others. We can help those students navigate through questioning and finding a one-on-one environment with lower stakes.

By any means, we must provide opportunities for students to do the right thing; it is increasingly important that they stand up for academic integrity on our campuses. Help them get involved and develop a strong support network with the International Day of Action for Academic Integrity on October 18!

Tell us how you are getting students involved with voicing their values by commenting below or finding us on social media!


Dees, G. & Crampton, P. (1991). Shrewd bargaining on the moral frontier: Toward a theory of morality in practice. Business Ethics Quarterly, 1(2), pp. 135– 167.

Gentile, M. C. (2012). Giving voice to values: How to speak your mind when you know what’s right. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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