Classroom strategies: talking about academic integrity

Plagiarism often arises because of poor writing and research habits, such as the inability to paraphrase and summarize, or losing track of sources and references. For example, when asked, students will typically be able to define plagiarism, but this does not necessarily mean they will know how to recognize plagiarism in their own work.

It is recommended that instructors contextualize academic regulations and standards (such as those regarding academic integrity) within the broader goals and outcomes of advanced education in the field and within the academic community. While the University takes the position that it is the student’s responsibility to know the Code and understand what constitutes an academic offence, it is the responsibility of every instructor to educate their students about the principles of academic integrity, and to direct them to the appropriate resources and supports.

It is important that instructors raise the topic of academic integrity within their classes, in order to:

  • Reinforce that the University takes academic integrity seriously.
  • Reinforce the importance of integrity in students’ current academic life and future career.
  • Educate and inform students about academic offences and how to avoid them.
  • Promote continued discussion and encourage questions from students.

The following strategies can help instructors increase academic integrity awareness and help to begin conversations with students. Instructors should:

  • Ask students to define important terms such as plagiarism, collaboration, paraphrase, summarize, editing and proofreading.
  • Talk with their class about the meaning of citations and why they are made.
  • State and explain their expectations regarding group work and collaboration. Make clear what is expected regarding individual student contributions and submitting individual work.
  • Provide examples of correct citations and both direct quotations and paraphrases. Include this in the syllabus or with any assignment handouts.
  • Where possible, discuss research and writing techniques with students. Provide documentation that will assist students with writing papers (proper citation methods), such as the advice pages found on www.utoronto.ca/writing (e.g. Citation Methods, How Not to Plagiarize, and Paraphrase and Summary).
  • Integrate the writing centre and/or the library into their courses.
    • Provide information about courses/services offered
    • Invite writing centre/library staff into classes
    • Design a library-based assignment
  • Avoid speaking confrontationally about academic offences, which can alienate students. Promote fairness in courses and be open to questions.
  • Remember that providing a link to a resource or distributing a handout without discussing it is a passive strategy. Reinforce the importance of the aids provided by referring to them in class and in communications to students.
  • Model good practice – be sure to include proper citations on course materials, website, and in lectures.

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