Supporting Academic Integrity Through Writing & Research Assignments: Strategies for Instructors
Academic integrity is an important part of university life, and a challenging topic to address with our students, particularly first-year undergraduates.
Adopting a variety of strategies to teach and support academic integrity in your class can reduce infractions and help students learn key skills for success at university.
1. Incorporate academic integrity into your course design
- Include an academic integrity statement in your syllabus
- Consider breaking larger assignments into steps or smaller assignments (often called ‘scaffolding’). Among the benefits, this practice may make plagiarism more difficult
- Ensure consistent assessment of academic integrity issues. For example, consider using a rubric (which includes criteria relevant to academic integrity) to ensure consistent marking across tutorial sections. You may also wish to provide your TAs with some guidance on interpreting Turnitin.com reports, to ensure they are all assessing the reports in the same way.
- Consider practices recommended by U of T Writing Centres for deterring plagiarism
2. Discuss academic integrity with your students
- Define academic integrity and ensure students understand what it is and what it looks like in academic life at UTSC.
- At the beginning of term, include a low-stakes academic integrity quiz (in person or through Blackboard) testing students' knowledge of academic integrity practices, including paraphrasing & citation in your discipline. This will help both you and your students assess deficits in their understanding of academic integrity.
- Emphasize that academic integrity is a serious offence that can have negative effects on students’ academic careers.
- Highlight practices of your own discipline, providing and discussing relevant examples. Model academic integrity through course materials, readings, slides etc. Encourage students to ask questions.
- Consider inviting members of your disciplinary student association or other peers you deem appropriate to speak with your students abou the importance of academic integrity in university. Students may benefit from talking to their peers about this topic.
- Encourage students to attend the campus Academic Integrity Matters workshop
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3. Ensure your students have academic skills needed for your assignments.
- Incorporate opportunities for your students to practice paraphrasing, summarizing & citing. Provide feedback.
- Identify academic skills that students will need to complete your assignment. (Examples: Writing, paraphrasing/summary, research, using citation etc.) Consider if they have these skills, or if there are gaps in their academic skills.
- If needed, help students learn academic skills needed to complete your assignment. Contact the English Language Development Centre, Library, Math and Statistics Learning Centre, or Writing Centre for support.
4. Encourage student self-evaluation of their work to ensure academic integrity.
- Consider including an academic integrity checklist with your assignments to encourage your students to check their work. TIP: If you are having students submit assignments to Turnitin, ask them not to include the statement--it increases the textual similarity rating! Have them give you a printed--and signed--statement/checklist.
- Consider allowing students to use Turnitin.com to assess their own work for any academic integrity violations.
5. Be aware of policies and procedures to follow if you suspect a student has committed an academic offence
- Ensure that you and your TAs know about the process for reporting suspected academic offences at UTSC. Familiarize yourself with procedures as required under the Code of Behaviours on Academic Matters.