Amid the multifaceted responsibilities inherent in the faculty role, faculty with instructional responsibilities face the challenge of making sustainable teaching choices that uphold academic integrity. This ethical foundation is not only integral to our professional responsibilities but plays a pivotal role in shaping the success and learning trajectory of our students, both within and beyond the classroom.

As outlined in the International Center for Academic Integrity’s own Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity, academic integrity is underpinned by six core values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. These values not only serve as the bedrock for upholding academic standards but also contribute significantly to fostering students' academic accomplishments, equipping them for successful future life and work. As I reflect upon these values, I am reminded of a handful of evidence-based instructional strategies that reinforce these values and academic integrity as a whole, while also serving to promote students’ academic achievement. These “special sauce” instructional strategies support students’ academic outcomes and also promote a culture of academic integrity.

Here are four simple teaching strategies that promote students’ academic success as well as their academic integrity:

1. Communicate your expectations and policies clearly (and repeatedly)

One of the first steps to promote academic integrity is to make sure that students understand what it is and why it is important - to your course, the discipline, academia as a whole, and even beyond academia. Not all students have the same experience with academic norms and expectations. Therefore, it is essential to openly communicate your stance on plagiarism and unauthorized assistance, as well as the rationale behind your policies (Morris 2015). You can do this by including a statement on your syllabus, discussing it in class, and reminding students of the relevant policies before major assignments. When covering the relevant policies in class, you might provide examples or interactive opportunities for students to explore acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and explain the consequences of violating academic honesty standards.

2. Foster a supportive learning environment in which students feel comfortable discussing challenges and seeking help

A supportive learning environment that mitigates academic dishonesty is one in which students feel comfortable engaging in an open exchange of (even nascent) ideas, discussing their academic challenges, and seeking help from their instructor and/or their classmates.

You can take steps to create a supportive classroom climate by:
• co-creating class norms or ground rules for respectful interaction with other students and the instructor,
• encouraging appropriate collaboration and interaction among students,
• providing timely feedback and guidance on student work, and
• suggesting resources and support services beyond the classroom.

When students have an accurate understanding of when and how to ask for help with academic challenges, they are better equipped to complete course assessments successfully and are less likely to be tempted to resort to dishonest actions (Bertram 2017).

3. Use transparency in learning and teaching practices

Another way to promote academic integrity is to use transparency in learning and teaching (TILT) practices. The TILT framework prompts instructors to communicate the purpose, task, and criteria of a learning activity or assignment to students. TILT practices help students better understand the learning goals and outcomes of your course, the value and relevance of the skills and knowledge they will gain, and the expectations and standards for their work. This can increase students’ motivation, engagement, and confidence, and reduce their anxiety and confusion. Research done by Mary-Ann Winkelmes indicates that TILT methods also have a significant impact on students’ academic performance and their persistence in college – and these benefits are even more significant for underprepared and underrepresented students (Winkelmes et. al., 2016).

4. Employ scaffolded, low stakes (or no stakes) assessments

A fourth strategy to promote academic integrity is to employ scaffolded, low stakes or no stakes assessments. Scaffolding is a technique that breaks down a complex task or assignment into smaller and simpler steps and provides opportunities for feedback along the way. Low stakes or no stakes assessments are those that have a minimal or no impact on students’ grades, such as quizzes, practice tests, or self-assessments. When we provide students with low or no stakes opportunities to gain initial practice and feedback on component skills before moving on to larger, higher point value assignments, we reduce the pressure and stress affiliated with high stakes assignments and encourage students to focus on the learning process.

Bear in mind that students will be more motivated to complete an assignment honestly if they feel that assignment holds value, e.g., is well aligned with course/knowledge objectives or their personal goals (Wigfield and Eccles 2000). To promote student motivation, instructors can engage transparency practices in tandem with scaffolding. Transparency practices (e.g., assignment prompts that highlight the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will be developed as a result of engaging in said assignment – the “purpose” component of TILT), can be used to further elucidate for students the alignment of scaffolded assessments to one another and to course objectives.

Conclusion

Instructional choices play a pivotal role in upholding academic integrity. The values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are not merely the values underpinning academic integrity. Rather, they form the very foundation upon which our students build their academic success. By implementing these four evidence-based teaching strategies, you can create a course environment that fosters academic integrity, engagement, and academic success. I encourage you to experiment with these practices in your own educational context, in commitment to excellence, integrity, and the enduring success of all those we have the privilege to teach!

Have you tried any of these strategies in your own course? Tell us by tweeting @TweetCAI.

References

Bertram Gallant, T. (2017). Academic Integrity as a Teaching and Learning Issue: From Theory to Practice. Theory Into Practice, vol. 56 no. 2, 88-94.

Morris, E.J. (2015). Academic Integrity: A Teaching and Learning Approach. Chapter 70 (pp. 1038-1051) in Bretag, T. (Ed.). Handbook of Academic Integrity. Singapore: Springer.

Wigfield, A. & Eccles, J.S. (2000). Expectancy-value Theory of Achievement Motivation, Contemporary Educational Psychology, vol 25 no. 1, 68-81.

Winkelmes, M-A., Bernacki, M, Butler, J, Zochowski, M. Golanics, J. & Weavil, K.H. (2016). A Teaching Intervention that Increases Underserved College Students’ Success. Peer Review, vol. 18 no. 1/2 (Winter/Spring), 31-36.

 Thank you for being a member of ICAI. Not a member of ICAI yet? Check out the benefits of ICAI membership and consider joining us by contacting . Be part of something great.