Objective: The student will list and define at least three accurate examples of academic integrity violations in the college setting.
This lesson is designed to help you understand what academic integrity is all about and why it is so important in college. You will also research the policies set by the college or university that you plan to attend.Estimated time 45 minutes
This section corresponds with Module 2 Lesson 3 in the College Bound Transition curriculum resources.
How would you define integrity? What do you think “academic integrity” means?
Dictionary.com defines integrity as, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”
Knowing that definition of integrity, you can conclude that “academic integrity” refers to honesty, morality, and ethicality in school‐related activities and situations.
Since all schools differ somewhat, we’ll be discussing the most common kinds of academic misconduct written in academic campus policies. Most of the terms are fairly common, but different colleges/universities will vary, so it will be important for you to research the policies at the college or university that you plan to attend.
To give you a clearer understanding of what constitutes an academic integrity violation in college, we’ll discuss some of the most common violations. The definitions we’ll use come from a couple of specific universities, so be aware that you’ll need to learn the specific definitions your college uses and abide by those, not these examples.
Keep in mind that a lot of these categories can overlap and may be either separate or lumped together depending on the college’s policies.
Source of academic integrity violation descriptions:
Plagiarism is a serious problem in colleges and universities around the country. Rigorous writing requirements from colleges/universities have increased the amount of writing intensive courses required in college. As a result, students are required to do a lot of writing and research but many are not clear on exactly what is required in order to avoid plagiarism. In fact, a lot of plagiarism is actually unintentional and stems from poor understanding of what really needs to be attributed instead of intentional malice or misrepresentation. Ultimately many schools do not distinguish between intentional and unintentional plagiarism, so it’s critically important that you understand what needs to be cited and how to do so.
You must attribute everything you use that’s not original and cite the source
Some things to remember when attributing ideas and paraphrased materials are listed below:
It is actually possible to plagiarize yourself, and this is one of the most misunderstood types of plagiarism for many college students.
Some colleges require students to submit papers through a service like “TurnItIn” or “SafeAssign” which are plagiarism prevention and detection software. Additionally, veteran teachers are often quite good at spotting when something in a paper seems out of place as compared to the rest of the document, or when a paper as a whole seems more advanced than reasonable for a student. Don’t risk it!
All of these are fancy words for lying. Regardless of the details, it’s a violation of the honor code at most schools to make anything up and represent it as the truth.
Be aware that this doesn’t only apply directly to coursework. Examples include:
This can be a confusing issue. Although policies can vary from professor to professor, this is often linked to the university culture or the culture of your academic department. Many schools/departments/professors expect and encourage students to work together in the process of learning material for the course. However, they may make a distinction between collaboration for the purposes of studying and collaboration on any assignment that will be graded or turned in.
In college, the safest course of action is to assume that you must do all your work independently unless otherwise given permission to collaborate with classmates. Naturally, this wouldn’t apply to certain things, such as clarifying the instructions for an assignment or asking if a classmate could help you understand a certain point from the lecture or textbook. In addition, it generally would not apply to specific types of university‐provided resources such as tutoring centers, math labs, writing centers, etc. The staff in these centers are generally trained on acceptable ways to assist students without violating the honor code. However, it never hurts to double‐check with each professor at the beginning of the semester about what types of assistance are acceptable in that course. This can be a gray area sometimes. For example, if you are allowed to take an online quiz using open‐book and open notes, are you also allowed to take it sitting next to a classmate and discussing the questions and answers? If you are attending tutoring, are you allowed to get help on the specific math problems you need to turn in for a homework grade, or are you only allowed to get help on similar problems and then need to complete the actual homework problems independently? These are questions that you aren’t expected to know the answers to right now, as they will depend on your college, department, professor, etc.
This is another topic that could fall under cheating, falsification, or another area. Examples of this would include telling a friend who is in a different section of the class (but has the same professor) what was on the quiz, or even simply telling someone that it’s important to be in class today because there will be a pop quiz or unexpected extra credit. Another example would be giving someone your completed workbook at the end of the semester because they’re taking the class next semester or handing over your old tests to someone about to take the class. It can also apply to more egregious violations like stealing a test, but those would be extremely rare.
Anytime you assist someone else in committing a violation, you are also culpable and can be held responsible.
At many schools, students who know about someone else’s violation, even if they themselves had nothing to do with it, can be held responsible if they don’t report it. Although some students still view this as “tattling” or “snitching,” it reflects the idea that academic integrity is everyone’s responsibility and actions taken by others impact the entire university community. As a result, working together as a community is necessary and desirable in order to hold all its members accountable, maintain high standards, and keep the value of the degree being earned high.
Finally, be aware that at many schools, you do not have to actually go through with the violation in order to be held responsible. For example, if a professor discovered you texting a classmate during a test asking for an answer, you could be charged with an attempting to cheat violation even if you hadn’t pressed “send” yet, or if you had sent the message but didn’t receive a reply. In other words, you don’t have to succeed in breaking the rule to be sanctioned for it.
In Module 1, when learning about the contrasts between high school and college, one of the items mentioned was the difference in how seriously academic misconduct is taken. In general, colleges and universities take academic integrity very seriously. At many schools, students can even be expelled for certain severe violations or for repeated less‐severe violations.
As you can see from the violations and sanctions we discussed, this is not something that colleges take lightly.
This raises the question: Why it is such a big deal?
Discuss with your parents possible reasons why academic integrity is so important in the university setting.
Clink on the link below for the “Academic Integrity Scenarios: What Would You Do?” worksheet. Read through these scenarios with your parent/s and discuss what your response would be in each case. Think about different ways that each situation could be handled.
Objective: The student will list and define at least three accurate examples of academic integrity violations in the college setting s/he plans to attend.
If so, congratulations!
If not, go back to the website of the college/university that you plan to attend and with the help of your parent/s look for the academic integrity policies of that school. Find and discuss the consequences/sanctions for possible code violations.