Syllabus strategies that support academic integrity

Whether on a semester or trimester schedule, many faculty are refining course materials and syllabi at this time of year. I’m reminded of an earlier blog post Syllabus design with integrity in mind (August 2020) by Courtney Cullen offering food for thought embedding integrity in course specific ways. The course syllabus is the guiding document that sets the tone for how a course will run. With so many changes over the past few years, a reset and refresh are a welcome update for many courses.

While many institutions mandate an academic integrity or honesty statement, actively embedding academic integrity throughout the course syllabus is a helpful way to increase trust and support student success. Using the fundamental values of academic integrity, best practices by member institutions, and guidance from academic integrity leaders and scholars, here are some additional considerations when updating syllabi.

Start with structure

The overall structure of your course and its individual components set the tone for the classroom experience. Academic integrity core concepts, namely honesty, trust, fairness, and responsibility compel faculty to clearly structure courses and course guidance in a way that is transparent, systematic, and scaffolded.

When reviewing the syllabus,

  • Is there an easily understood, logical progression from one topic to the next?
  • Are there any concepts or skills that require proficiency before moving on?
  • How should the structure respond to changes in course modality or assignment structure?

Syllabus styles have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the right one (or combination thereof) for your course when embedding academic integrity concepts. Here are a few examples.

  • Chronological: A chronological syllabus lists the topics in order. This can be helpful for students who like to know what will be coming up next and when. It can also help with planning assignments and tests. Here, principles of academic integrity might be embedded, increasing in depth and complexity as the course unfolds.
  • Topical: A topical syllabus lists the topics by theme or category. This can be helpful for students who want to see all the topics at one time. It can also help group together related topics. Academic integrity may warrant its own module, set of modules, or remain embedded throughout.
  • Weekly: A weekly syllabus lists the topics by week. This can be helpful for students who want to see what is due each week. It can also help with time management. Linking to principles of academic integrity, or expectations governing specific assignments and learning outcomes are well suited here.

No matter which style, it is important to be clear and concise in organization. Students should be able to easily find the information they need and understand expectations. A well organized and consistent syllabus signals trust, care, and thoughtfulness. While questions will remain, a syllabus that is outlined and well introduced make it easy to revisit content.


Consider the unique communication preferences of students in syllabus design is important, for example:  

  • Does the syllabus include elements that appeal to students who benefit from diagrams, charts, or video?
  • Are explanations available in multiple locations?
  • Is there a low stakes opportunity to gauge understanding of the content of the syllabus?

The University of California, San Diego, offers actionable guidance on the importance of communicating institutional and personalized information on academic integrity, including a syllabus checklist!

Students who see language that speaks to them individually may be more likely to value independent learning. For example, a syllabus that explicitly lists independent assignments vs group work. Getting to know students and understanding how their identifies show up in the classroom is also necessary in building academic integrity. Personalization does not require invasive disclosure but offers students the opportunity to share their goals and needs, while offering faculty and instructional staff the opportunity to see how students make sense of material through independent work, learning preferences, class experience, and connection to real life events. Self-reflection as related to integrity and identity are one of the ways students may see the importance of academic integrity as a cornerstone of the coursework. Increasing communication through reflection is a benefit for faculty as well.

Including current events, diversifying texts, and perspectives, and offering opportunities to incorporate personally meaningful connections are curricular decisions that students value. Acknowledging these within the syllabus allow students to see the values of the class, department, and institution in a direct way, such as those featured in a Programming syllabus by Gary Miranda, a professor in the Computer Science department at University of California San Diego.

  • Who may be uncomfortable with course content and how can the syllabus address this?
  • What supports in the syllabus exist for students needing additional assistance?

Goals and Expectations

Often, faculty assume academic integrity is a goal and expectation in college. They must be explicit in the syllabus. In some countries, standards of academic integrity are set by governing or accrediting bodies. Amanda McKenzie offers an overview of quality assurance guidance and how they can be used to strengthen academic integrity in the classroom and within institutions.   Others rely on institutional or departmental policy language to offers a legally supported frame in setting expectations. Examples and rationale that are unique to course content, discipline, peer support, or future goals are meaningful supplements. For example, including the code of ethics associated with related professional standards as suggested by the University of California, San Diego. In addition, the rapidly changing nature of online resources and collaboration may be address in institutional policy. Specifying what you have seen and acknowledging that there may be other risks to academic integrity strengthen the goals and expectations set for the course. Examples, like those included in the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Teaching and Learning resource https://www.ctl.upenn.edu/resources/syllabus/academic-integrity-syllabus/ provide declarative statements addressing misconduct in the online environment, as well as promoting academic integrity.

  • More broadly, students who can quickly articulate how the course fits into their plans and needs are more likely to see the value of the independent learning necessary for success. Understanding this value bolsters the idea of academic integrity as a shared responsibility for all students.
  • As an academic community, consider co-creating community standards, or a classroom code of ethics as a part of the syllabus.

Assessment Alignment

Consider thinking of the syllabus as a summation of how expectations are communicated and assessed. Much is debated about the types of assessment that occur in the classroom. Many students often wonder how their professors will determine demonstrated success. Assessments can help students understand their strengths and weaknesses to help them improve. With clear assessment, students will be able to identify the areas they need to work on and be motivated to do so. Assessment may seem intuitive in course design, but syllabus language aids in bridging understanding of curriculum design and student understanding. The University of Toronto offers specific language examples for assignment, tests, and general academic work.

The pressure of assessment as a high stakes event in a course can shift a learning environment. Overwhelm is often a common threat to preserving academic. Furthermore, some students may feel anxious about being assessed in a way that feels uncomfortable. For example, a student who prefers to explain things may struggle with an exam that is entirely multiple choice. Similarly, a student who prefers to demonstrate learning in an active manner may find it difficult to answer essay questions that requires sitting still for extended periods of time. There is no way to satisfy everyone all the time, but by including information on assessment in the syllabus, there is a proactive effort to letting students know what to expect. In addition to strengthening trust with assessment description, a well-designed syllabus includes transparent assessment guidelines, including a description of proctoring and grading guidance.


A well-designed syllabus sets the stage for a course that can exemplify the fundamental values of academic integrity. A well-structured, clear, and personalized syllabus aids in communication and allows students to feel supported. When done well, the syllabus helps students affirm their membership within the academic community through acknowledgement and clear expectations. As seen in the examples above, the right tools and practices set the foundation for a culture of integrity and academic success.

Once again this year, Deree-The American College of Greece participated in the activities on the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. A number of organizations and academic societies contributed in various exciting and interactive ways.

The Economic Society presented an interactive installation, "Hercules: Vice or Virtue," the English Society attracted students to “Create Your Own Title" for novels, The International Honors Program participated with a poster and video, the Management Information Systems Society invited students to make pledges, and the Student Academic Support Services came up with the installation "Grades do not grow on Trees."

The event took place on Wednesday October 20 at the main corridor, and it attracted the attention of more than 200 students, faculty, and administrators. All the activities had the common aim of promoting academic integrity in a creative way, while simultaneously condemning the practice of contract cheating and academic misconduct.

You can see more about Deree's actions on the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating by watching this video.

One widespread practice found on college campuses to lure students into purchasing custom prepared papers for a fee is people handing out business cards. This constitutes a serious breach of academic integrity. This also happens at Deree – The American College of Greece, located in Athens, an institution offering undergraduate degrees, with English as the language of instruction.

This had an effect on me both as a student and as part of the ACG’s Student Academic Support Services (SASS).

Similar to other institutions, Deree offers personalized assistance to its students through individual or group peer tutoring sessions. Learning facilitators such as myself aim to help fellow students produce quality academic work that is of their own by fostering the development of their learning style, writing and critical thinking skills.

My involvement urged me to take a conscious choice against contract cheating by deciding to refuse the card when offered to me. In retrospect, it made me feel empowered and caused me to reflect on the value of my studies.

SASS followed up to fight contract cheating with the same weapon. With the help of others at SASS we designed a business card with our logo, contact info and the following message: “Efficiency and Honesty for Free”. 

For the last three years, we have been handing out business cards to other students at the busiest parts of campus on the International Day Against Contract Cheating. This has attracted the interest of students and served as a conversation starter and sets the ground for realizing the importance of Academic Integrity. In our eyes, it sends out the message that we, the students are the owners of our academic achievements.


 Anastasia and SASS are taking a stand against contract cheating. What are you doing to support your students and fight contract cheating service providers? Tell us by tweeting @TweetCAI. 

The English Department at Deree – The American College of Greece may be small, compared to other departments, but it is making a significant contribution to the conversation on academic integrity taking place on campus. Here’s our thoughts, on the one hand from a professor and on the other from a student:

As professor in this department, I was impressed upon reading in an email from the English Society on the upcoming elections for the governing body (GB) that the Constitution was amended to include as a new “eligibility criterion for election to the Governing Body: no breaches of Academic Integrity!” This amendment showcases the importance of students participating in this conversation on academic integrity, exchanging the language of policy voiced by professors with a language of shared values expressed through their actions. When students promote a culture of integrity themselves, when in other words the source of the message changes, the content of the message might be heard differently.

As student in this department, I have been a part of the English Society for two years now and the President since this semester began. Academic Integrity has always played a significant role in our philosophy. That is why on International Day Against Contract Cheating the English Society always organizes events on campus where we ask students and faculty to write pledges that support authenticity and remind everyone that Academic Integrity is a choice we need to make every day. In the Humanities, our work is reflected in our authentic ideas, so it is vital that we protect them by speaking out against plagiarism and cheating that undermine not only the efforts of the writer but the reader, as well. This semester, with the help of our advisors, the GB decided to integrate this amendment into our constitution to demonstrate the Society’s commitment to Academic Integrity and to encourage the students of the English major and minor to trust their own creativity.

This statement, this requirement for eligibility might not seem like much, but it does exemplify how students can show their commitment to principles of integrity themselves, inviting others to understand that honoring academic integrity in their work means upholding the fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. And by uniting our voices with that of the faculty, we can co-author our statement and openly communicate our commitment to integrity. Our hope is that by collaborating on this post, we can show that by valuing honesty in academic life, students can develop the habit of self-reliance and confidence, and therefore possess the necessary skills for future success.


Tweet @TweetCIA to tell us how faculty and students are working together to support academic integrity at your institution.

COVID as catalyst.

I heard this phrase at the virtual ICAI conference in March. It is an inspiring motto for educators in the midst of this pandemic moment.

The COVID-era has highlighted issues that significantly threaten our institutions, such as inequities in the remote-testing industry’s artificial intelligence and the rampant issue of contract cheating. As a result, there are important discussions in institutions around the world that should, in theory, effect lasting positive change in teaching, learning, and their related academic integrity subtexts. It can be daunting to know where or how to start any large-scale project which intends to address those academic integrity subtexts, especially when you combine the significant institutional threats with the old adage that big ships (i.e. institutions) turn slowly.

I am on a big ship here at Iowa State University, where there are 30,000+ students and over 6,000 full-time faculty and staff. I have started small initiatives and continue to foster partnerships that will help support more academic integrity initiatives as more opportunities arise on the other side of the pandemic.

Since mid-2020, I have been working on small-scale projects to amplify the importance of academic integrity. For example, I revamped our Testing Center newsletter that contains reminders about academic services (e.g. tutoring; Writing & Media Center (WMC) presentations to student clubs) interspersed with our usual Testing Center policy reminders. I have also worked with my departmental student services colleagues to right-size an early-semester text-message campaign that highlighted academic coaching services for students. However, I want to note that too many of any kind of text messages can cause mass unsubscribe events; so proceed with caution, choose what you decide to message carefully. Furthermore, I have used my relatively small Testing Center FAQ platform to prominently post academic integrity ideas for both students and instructors.

While there is nothing quantitative I am yet able to share about the degree of success these tactics have brought, it is part of a larger effort to make academic integrity an even larger part of the culture here. Due to a developing partnership with the Office of Student Conduct (OSC), that larger push has been signified this Fall by launching the McCabe Survey. My savvy partners in OSC arranged an interview with the school newspaper, which resulted in some good press.

There are still plenty challenges; some are endemic to educational institutions, while others are the result of social and economic changes brought about by two years of global upheaval. For one, working interdepartmentally has its pitfalls. As I hope to expand collaborations with other ISU departments like the Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT) and WMC, I need to be patient with and sensitive to their agendas. Other areas of concern are finance and workforce. The partnership with OSC is strong, but we have had to pump the brakes on our UCSD-inspired peer-facilitated Academic Integrity pilot program because not only are we searching for funding, we are also coming up against the possibility of student labor shortages: workers everywhere are demanding more money. ISU is not immune to this trend.

COVID can be a catalyst for change in an institution’s culture of academic integrity. The change can happen if we recognize the limitations of our workgroup, work within those boundaries, and patiently build relationships across departments.

IDOA Student Committee’s Jeopardy on Contract Cheating

A review and helpful guide to using the game

By ENAI Gamification Group Members

Zeenath Reza Khan

Sonja Bjelobaba

Shivadas Sivasubramanian

William Bülow

Lorna Waddington

Dita Henek Dlabolová

Jarret Dyer

Laura Ribeiro

Sandra F. Gomes

Mike Reddy

Salim Razi

European Network for Academic Integrity (ENAI) is a network whose purpose is to support higher education institutions to work together in the field of academic integrity. It was set up by 12 European universities as a Erasmus+ funded project in 2017 and has grown to be a global representation of over 40 member institutes from Europe and beyond. Among its many initiatives, ENAI has many working groups in different and sometimes inter-related areas of academic integrity. ENAI Gamification group, set up in 2019, is one such group that perseveres to look at how game-based learning and gamification can help in instilling values of integrity in students and staff during training, workshops, as learning modules and more.

Game-based learning (GBL) is an approach used in teaching and learning that uses aspects of games to teach students and help them reach learning objectives. GBL has been linked to behavioural, cognitive, motivational theories and effects on learners, with studies in recent years highlighting the benefits of using game-based learning in academic settings (Anderson et al., 2009; Whitton, 2012; Cojocariu and Boghian, 2014). Gamification, on the other hand, is when we use game elements to non-game problems like teaching academic integrity, raising awareness about misconducts and consequences and so on. Understanding the benefits of looking at GBL and gamification in the world of academic integrity, in 2020, the ENAI Working Group conducted a workshop and published a paper on designing gamified learning modules on Contract Cheating (CC). In 2021, the group focused on identifying existing games or gamified modules on ethics and academic integrity and reviewing existing modules that was presented at the Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity.

As part of this latest effort, we are thrilled to be looking at the Jeopardy game produced by the International Student Steering Committee (ISSC) under the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating (IDOA) organizing committee 2021.

Contract cheating (CC) is a form of academic misconduct when a person uses an undeclared and/or unauthorized third party to assist them to produce work for academic credit or progression, whether or not payment or other favour is involved.

The ISSC that represented 17 students from across the globe (eg. Canada, Mexico, Greece, UK, UAE and so on) worked jointly under the supervision and guidance of Evangeline Litsa Mourelatos, recently retired professor from Deree The American College of Greece, to collate and develop a database of potential questions for the Jeopardy through extensive research they conducted.

Once developed, the Jeopardy was piloted at one of the committee meetings, followed by a discussion with the IDOA Committee members to receive their feedback and input on the questions and format.

The module, which is a classic example of game-based learning or activity, is a great start to building a fun, comprehensive module that can be a fantastic addition to a training or awareness session conducted for students or staff. It is classified as a GBL example because the goal of the Jeopardy game is to ask questions that help the audience review content that should have been introduced prior to using the game, as a means to see how much the audience grasped from the session.

The ISSC was motivated by the goal to raise awareness on IDOA and the International Centre for Academic Integrity (ICAI), and keep the focus of the academic community on contract cheating. On the 6th IDOA, a student panel, innovatively moderated by Litsa touched upon the depth of the questions and how they could be starting points of meaningful discussion with an audience.

The game has five different categories of questions:

  1. Basics
  2. How CC works
  3. Reasons/Consequences
  4. Strategies to reduce CC
  5. Miscellaneous

Figure 1

Figure 1 - Screen grab of the CC Jeopardy Game

Each category has questions that range from 100 points to up to 500 points. Questions get progressively harder as the options play from 100 points to 500 points. For instance, under the category of Basics, the question for 100 points reads:

“The year 2006”

In classic Jeopardy style, the “answer” is the “question” and the “question” is the “answer” expected:

“When was the term Contract Cheating coined?”

The question for 500 points under the same category reads:

“The code defining academic misconduct or dishonesty at an academic institution.”

The game is easy to launch using the link over the internet, and allows the game master to add up to 10 teams/players as needed.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Screen grab of the CC Jeopardy Game showing team set up

As teams go through their selections and earn points, the game master has to keep a track by simply clicking the plus or minus button provided by the game engine, depending on how the game is being used (for instance, as an assessment or training, etc)

Figure 3

Figure 3: Screen grab of the CC Jeopardy Game showing a game being played with three teams

While the questions cover a wide range of concepts on contract cheating, it is critical to mention that the game is not a stand-alone module, but rather requires some kind of session on contract cheating that can then be followed by this game as a way to test how much the audience may have grasped about the session. For instance, one of the questions in the database reads “100% plagiarism free”, to which there could be a multitude of answers such as “what is a benefit of my own work?”, “what is a common requirement for a report at your uni?” and so on. However, the answer expected by the game is “What is a common claim by paper mills?”

Some of the questions stand out as ambiguous and/or too context-centric, for example “Choose among the letters: Reporting of AI violations has a) increased, b) decreased, c) stayed about the same during online teaching…”  or “Allows you to binge watch your favourite series/movies instead of carefully preparing for an assignment”.

This was in fact identified during the student panel session for the question “The code defining academic misconduct or dishonesty at an academic institution” for which the answer could have been whatever the audience knows or is aware of in their own institution etc.

To this effect, we take the liberty to introduce European Network for Academic Integrity’s collection of resources on contract cheating as a topic which includes not only recorded sessions, but also slides and presentations that can be used by any instructor(s) for their classroom training targeting students or teachers who wish to use the game effectively.

ENAI website contains an extensive collection of educational material on academic integrity that is easily searchable: the main idea is to provide for the CC licensed material in order to help teachers and students to learn more about academic integrity. The material includes courses, modules, sets of activities accompanied with didactical notes, videos, etc. Several of those pedagogical resources are focusing on contract cheating:

Contract Cheating training module for HEI instructors - a training presentation by Irene Glendinning

The prevention of contract cheating in an online environment/TEQSA - a practical guide/report  by Phillip Dawson

Academic Outsourcing: essay mills, theses-on-demand and contract cheating - a workshop presentation by Sarah Elaine Eaton

How to deal with contract cheating - a workshop presentation by Veronika Kralikova

CONTRACT CHEATING (PRÁCE PSANÉ NA ZAKÁZKU) - a workshop presentation by Veronika Kralikova in Czech

Evidence-based responses to contract cheating - a video recording from late Tracey Bretag’s keynote speech at the 3rd International Conference Plagiarism Across Europe and Beyond 2017

Pouring ale on contract cheating - a video recording from Phil Newton’s keynote speech at the  3rd International Conference Plagiarism Across Europe and Beyond 2017

Strategies for addressing contract cheating - a video recording of a panel discussion with Phil Newton, Thomas Lancaster, Chloe Walker and Shiva Sivasubramaniam at the 3rd International Conference Plagiarism Across Europe and Beyond 2017

Any of the above can be good for a training session for staff or students, by faculty or students to help prepare the comprehensive and holistic experience for the target audience followed by the CC Jeopardy to then check the effectiveness of learning.

The CC Jeopardy is a starting point for the community, with some great conversation starters that can help moderators or game masters delve into the crux of the matter such as:

  • what motivates students to reach out to such services that provide contract cheating services,
  • how the services reach out and approach students
  • how essay mills convince students
  • who can be a support system for students on campus to help steer away from such practices
  • policy discussions and implications
  • and others

The CC Jeopardy is available on the JeopardyLabs site, a game engine that helps anyone create a jeopardy game for free or for a life-time membership fee of US$20/-! The free option allows you to make a perfectly and fully functioning game, while the membership allows you to “fancy-fy” it a bit, add more questions and so on. The platform is quite easy to use and set up and applies the “GNU General Public License” (GPL) where any jeopardy developed on the platform is free, and can be edited by anyone after cloning it:

Figure 4

Figure 4: Screen grab demonstrating how a jeopardy can be edited

Figure 5

Figure 5: Screen grab showing how the editing screen looks

 There are other jeopardy games in there which address academic integrity. These are:

The Academic Jeopardy - by California State University, San Marcos

This game is focused more on plagiarism, than any other aspect of academic integrity or misconduct, with a category also customised to the university.

Figure 6

Figure 6 - Academic Jeopardy game

Plagiarism - A game that focuses exclusively on Plagiarism which also covers concepts like origins of the word “plagiarism”, and also “what is going to jail”

Figure 7

Figure 7 - Plagiarism game

APA Signals/Plagiarism - this is a game that is also focused on plagiarism, specifically at three types of plagiarism and APA signals which make it slightly more proactive than the others.

Figure 8

Figure 8 - APA Signal/Plagiarism game

In line with our previous suggestion, if you wish to use any of the Plagiarism related jeopardy, here are some ENAI resources that can help set the stage:

Absence of Plagiarism? - an interesting article by Július Kravjar

Reasons for plagiarism by students: why does it happen? – training module for hei instructors prepared by Salim Razi

Definitions of plagiarism - training module for HEI instructors by Ansgar Schäfer

How to prevent plagiarism - a handbook for academic staff by Foltýnek Tomáš, Černikovský Petr, Fontana Josef, Gojná Zuzana, Henek Dlabolová Dita, Holeček Tomáš, Hradecký Jan, Kozmanová Irena, Mach Jan, Římanová Radka, Tesaříková Čermáková Klára, Válová Adriana, Vorel František, Vorlová Helena, König Dudziaková Marie

If you decide to use any of the above games or ICAI’s CC Jeopardy game, do let us know your experiences and don’t forget to have fun, stay positive, and be proactive, as steps towards developing a culture of integrity everywhere.

As a community of practice, we always welcome feedback and requests for any kind of support from the international community and hope this post is helpful to anyone wishing to use the module in their classrooms, campus or for general learning and awareness sessions.

To contact the head of the working group, use the email details as follows:

Zeenath Reza Khan,



Anderson, O. B., Anderson, N. M., & Taylor, A. T. (2009). New Territories in Adult Education: Game-Based Learning for Adult Education, http://www.adulterc.org/Proceedings/2009/proceedings/anderson_etal.pdf


Cojocariu, V. and Boghian, I. (2014). Teaching the Relevance of Game-based Learning to Preschool and Primary Teachers, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 142(2014). 640-646. ISSN 1877-0428. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042814046072?via%3Dihub


Whitton, N. (2012). The place of game-based learning in an age of austerity, Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 10(2), 249-256, https://academic-publishing.org/index.php/ejel/article/view/1630/1593

Ubuntu, the South African practice valuing collective humanity has been on my mind a lot these days. A 2020 article linking the practice to academic integrity really resonates with me. The authors describe the value in the Zimbawean context as "responsibility, honesty, justice, trustworthiness, hard work, integrity, a cooperative spirit, solidarity and devotion to family and the welfare of the community". The authors surmise that the common phrasing of the term translated to mean “You are because I am, and I am because we are” is an important educational perspective when considering preventing academic misconduct.

I was thinking about how I might better support my graduate students to do their best work in service to their research interests, and how that relates to issues of contract cheating and plagiarism. In a recent study of contract cheating providers I realize that while I find their practices  predatory, they are on to something I have not fully addressed in my work. Fear, loneliness, loss, and hurt are often exploited. There is time for critical feedback around procrastination, consistency, and quality. But critical feedback without community care erodes trust. The erosion of trust leads to behaviors that are self serving. We have all known and felt desperation. We can stand in the space where these feelings lie.

It reminds me that we must do the best we can with what we have in service to our academic communities. That where we can, we extend grace to each other. That we remind ourselves that accountability can be restorative. Ubuntu. That collectively, we are stronger than individually, and that in spite of undesirable behaviors we remain one academic community. Our collective resources and ideas can be transformational. I like to think that when we teach students about acknowledging the work of others, that we show these ideals as well. Academic integrity provides the language for use to actively honor the contributions of others, and to make room for new interpretations. That we can set expectations for ourselves and others and be open that those expectations may be met in new and creative ways. Ubuntu.

It may seem as though no matter how much is written or explained our perspectives are not clear. We are all worn thin. We are exhausted, and it is frustrating. Misunderstandings abound. We thought we were ready to return to normal, but normal as we understand it ceases to exist. Faculty and practitioners do their work in multiple modalities, focusing on recovery and restoration, sometimes feeling as if they and their work aren’t valued, as if a pandemic weren’t occurring. Students juggling family, work, loss, fear, and struggle and mental unease don’t know where to turn, but they aren’t turning to those who can give the most help. Somewhere along the line, those interactions became too difficult. Cultural values provide a glimpse into how we can educate and support in ways that resonate with an increasingly diverse student population

For many this is the time of year where final papers are due and, where students are scrambling. Faculty are tired, Staff are tired, and students are tired too. May we all be reminded that our work and our efforts are in service to each other, and that our collective, authentic contributions are better together. That sometimes, education is meeting the basic and immediate need a student has before they can begin to form understanding. Our academic communities deserve mutual trust, grace, and integrity.

TikTok app icon on a mobile phone

Lessons from TikTok on Academic Integrity 

I recently came across a retweet by Thomas Lancaster, an academic integrity expert perhaps best known for his work on contract cheating. The tweet contained a TikTok video that depicts a typical example of the practice, a parent writing a paper for a student who felt they could not submit an assignment on time. The short clip shares what so many of us know. That all too often, a simple message or request for help turns into academic misconduct. Though problematic for this audience, the message is meant to be funny and poignant, a retort to what the student felt was an unaccommodating professor.  

The creativity in TikTok reflects what I love most about research that uses digital narratives to explain the experiences of college students. Engaged students are those who see themselves reflected in the classroom. They are motivated by instruction, subject matter, or the promise of advancement resulting from a course. Students need more than course resources. Support and individualization are necessary for engagement.

The Problem: Students who are not engaged risk finding themselves more likely to succumb to the pressures of time and discomfort. Social media provides audio and visual representations of the conditions and challenges impacting students. TikTok, in particular, is used as a snippet of expression, representation, and validation. At its core, the medium represents individual artistry, allowing creators to present a version of themselves in a public forum. Viral dances and videos are the results of affirmation and inspiration. I've found several connections to the values of academic integrity in these videos. 

Attribution: Tik Tok etiquette requires that a creator who uses the content of another to acknowledge it. The community acknowledges this attribution practice rather than being monitored as a requirement of terms and conditions. This is notable. Do creators violate the community expectation? Of course.  Nevertheless, community members actively (and loudly) called out by the creators themselves. Why?  Because the community has decided that they value individual contributions.  It is also important to note that this attribution is expected despite an algorithmic system accused of being unfair. Creators are taken to task and publicly respond for misrepresenting ownership. These are concepts that are not new; we see the same thing in various social media mediums. It is one of the reasons why the retweet and share buttons exist. 

Collective Action: Frustrated with community decisions, creators come together to address the misuse or misattribution. Posts simplifying the original creators of dances, recipes, and fashion trends are amplified to drown out the violation. This form of accountability results has led to opportunities for the original content creator, media opportunities, and accolades that can lead to future successes. 

Courage: Creators speak out despite running the risk of being ostracized by other community members and speak up, even when it feels challenging to do so. Sacrifices, including boycotts or video responses to unattributed work, demonstrate the issues around improper attribution and what it means to value the original work or creative expression of an individual or a culture.

The goal is simple; creators manage to express themselves, demonstrate the value of digital expression and expect others to respect the community's contributions.  

What can we learn? While not a perfect example, mediums like TikTok provide examples of how groups can self-impose community norms. Likewise, creating academic communities where students are responsible for and take pride in while also holding others to a standard of accountability is the goal of academic integrity. 

To share experiences and strategies to promote academic integrity, Universidad de Monterrey in collaboration with Universidad EAFIT from Colombia, Universidad Panamericana, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Tecnológico de Monterrey and endorsed by the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) and the European Network of Academic Integrity (ENAI). held the 9th Academic Integrity Conference "Integrity: a constant challenge" this past October 7 and 8.

This event was completely online and had the participation of more than 1000 attendees from around the world, including Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Canada, Panama, Argentina, United States, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, South Korea, Italy, Turkey, among others.

Teachers, students and administrators of educational institutions for secondary and higher education were able to hear from experts on the subject of academic integrity different ideas and resources to implement within their institutions to foster a culture of integrity.

To name a few, we were joined by Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton, from University of Calgary in Canada, who talked about how to create communities of integrity by engaging ethically for learning. Dr. Rubén Comas-Forgas from Universidad de las Islas Baleares in Spain, share about plagiarism and strategies against academic dishonesty.

Dr. Zeenath Khan from the University of Wollongong in Dubai, shared some reflections on organizing an academic integrity camp to preparing K-12 students for higher education and Dr. Camilla Roberts, from Kansas State University in United States, highlighted the importance of trust in creating a culture of integrity.

Other important speakers shared with the attendees various topics and research results in simultaneous conferences and panels during these two days. You can check the full program of the lectures given here:


We hope you can join us for our tenth edition of this conference next year.

Thanks to all who attended! Let's continue working together to live academic integrity!

Langara College is pleased to announce a new, open-access toolkit designed to provide a broad array of academic integrity resources for educators titled: "Encouraging Academic Integrity Through a Preventative Framework” (2020).  This project is a collaborative initiative between the Teaching and Curriculum Development Center (TCDC), the Centre for Intercultural Engagement (CIE), and the Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Office (SCAI) in response to increasing requests from faculty for support addressing and promoting academic integrity in higher education.  

The toolkit was developed as a solution-focused resource to highlight practices that encourage academic integrity and to generate discourse about educational integrity. It includes a collection of sample activities and assessments that can be used to help students meet academic standards with integrity. In addition, it presents the Complexity Quadrant as a model to reframe conversations about academic integrity and assessments that promote academic honesty.  

The toolkit is an e-book available for free through BC Campus Pressbooks Open Education Resources. It is divided into four sections:   

  1. A description of the principles of academic integrity as defined by the International Centre for Academic Integrity.  
  2. A discussion of the nuances in expression and perception of academic integrity using a model we call the "Complexity Quadrant".  
  3. A list of strategies for fostering integrity in learners.  
  4. A collection of suggestions for preventing contraventions of academic integrity standards through assessment (re)design.  

The toolkit is intended to model open pedagogy/andragogy as an evolving, user-driven guide. Readers are invited to share feedback as well as other tools and/or examples of preventative approaches to assessment design to be included in this resource through an anonymous survey. Stories of successes or challenges are also welcome. In this way, the authors believe the toolkit will become a significant support to educators internationally and across disciplines.  

About the Authors 

Jessica Kalra* is an instructor and research scientist in STEM, an academic integrity advocate, member of the Academic Integrity Committee and previously a curriculum consultant in TCDC.   

Ragad Anwar is an instructor in Economics and an intercultural engagement consultant in the Centre for Intercultural Engagement. 

Maggie Ross is Director of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct, Cochair of the Academic Integrity Committee. 

Daryl Smith is Director of the Centre for Intercultural Engagement.  

Vicki Vogel is Director of the Langara Language Training Centre and an intercultural engagement consultant in the Centre for Intercultural Engagement. 

*corresponding author