Academic Integrity: A Classroom Activity Guide

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This guide is designed as a resource for helping instructors promote, encourage, and cultivate a culture of academic integrity in their classrooms. The guide contains a list of questions and/or prompts that can be utilized in the classroom (whether face-to-face or virtual) in multiple ways in order to assist students in understanding the importance of academic integrity and the different types of academic dishonesty.

You will also find some suggested ideas for how to utilize these questions/prompts in the classroom. These activities are designed to be low-stakes and/or formative type assessments. Feel free to use them as is in your classroom or tweak according to your own preferences and needs or combine them in variety of different ways for a single class unit on academic integrity. 

Resource 1: Types of Academic Dishonesty

Students are given six definitions of different types of academic honesty and prompted to match them to the appropriate item. You could utilize this example in multiple ways by:

  • Creating a matching quiz. You could do this as a paper exam or an exam in the learning management system. We recommend having students take the quiz during the first week or two of class. You could also include this matching activity in a syllabus quiz or class policies quiz.
  • Designing a group activity where students work together to compare and contrast these definitions with their own understanding and/or prior knowledge. This can be followed by a class wide discussion on misconceptions and misunderstandings about academic integrity.

Types of Academic Dishonesty

  • Cheating
  • Plagiarism
  • Fabrication
  • Forgery
  • Facilitating academic dishonesty
  • Sabotage

Definitions for Types of Academic Dishonesty

  • Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise. The term academic exercise includes all forms of work submitted for credit or hours.
    • Answer: Cheating
  • The deliberate adoption or reproduction of ideas, words or statements of another person as one's own without explicit acknowledgement or citation. However, the adoption or reproduction of the ideas or words of another person as one's own without complete and correct acknowledgement, often the result of a misunderstanding or citational misattribution, can be considered unintentional.
    • Answer: Plagiarism
  • The intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise.
    • Answer: Fabrication
  • The altering of a score, grade, or official academic university record or forging the signature of an instructor or other student.
    • Answer: Forgery
  • Intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to violate a provision of the institutional code of academic integrity.
    • Answer: Facilitating academic dishonesty
  • Acting to prevent others from completing their work or willfully disrupting the academic work of others.
    • Answer: Sabotage

Resource 2: Citational Practices

The following resource is another matching activity. Students are given three examples of citational practices and asked to match them to the appropriate item. You could implement this resource by:

  • Creating a matching quiz. You could do this as a paper exam or an exam in the learning management system. This exam could be given at any time towards the beginning of the semester as students progress in their ability to properly write and research.
  • Including this matching activity on a longer quiz that students can take as a formative assessment to reinforce their knowledge of academic integrity.

Items

  • Citation
  • Quotation
  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarizing

Examples

  • Blum, Susan D. “Academic Integrity and Student Plagiarism: A Question of Education, Not Ethics.” The Chronicle of Higher Education: Commentary. Web. 20 Feb. 2009.
    • Answer: Citation
  • “Faculty members in various disciplines differ vastly in their expectations concerning citation and quotation,” Dr. Blum (2009) cautions.
    • Answer: Quotation
  • Previewing her book-length project in an essay for an education journal, Dr. Blum (2009) challenges common myths about student plagiarism, identifies the problems of citationality in our digital era of the Internet, and then prescribes treating plagiarism as deficiency in a set of practical skills that should be mastered over time through constant reinforcement by educators.
    • Answer: Paraphrasing
  • In her 2009 commentary for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor Susan Blum argues that student plagiarism is an educational challenge for teachers as much as it is an ethical failure of today’s students.
    • Answer: Summarizing

Resource 4: Writing Focused Thesis Statements/Research Questions

This is an activity for helping students identify and develop skills for writing more concise thesis statements and/or research questions by demonstrating the progression from a vague idea to a more focused statement. You could implement this resource by:

  • Creating a selected-response (e.g. multiple choice, matching, etc.) quiz where students identify and/or rate a series of thesis/research questions according to clarity or conciseness.
  • Including it as a rating activity on a longer quiz that students can take as a formative assessment to reinforce their knowledge of academic integrity.
  • Designing a group project where students work together to rate thesis/research questions according to clarity or conciseness and then explain their reasoning to the whole class.
  • Designing an activity where you give students the provided example then have them construct their own thesis question/research question by following the example as a model. This will allow both students and instructors to document the students thought process. This activity could be done as an individual or group activity.

Examples

  • Vague Idea – “I love superhero movies, but some people say they’re bad.”
  • Abstract Language – “Some critics raise serious objections to superhero movies but these summer blockbusters are wildly popular and profitable.”
  • Clearer Description – “While some critics worry about the sexism and violence in superhero films, these films remain popular and profitable because of their mythic themes.”
  • Concise Thesis Statement – “Although some critics rightly worry about the violence and sexism in superhero films, others suggest their profitable mythic themes are becoming more empowering for women and critical of macho vigilante justice.”
  • Focused Research Question – “Are this summer’s superhero films more violent and sexist than other cinema genres of past years?”

Resource 5: Selected-Response Items

The following series of multiple-choice questions can be used in multiple ways. They can be part of an early semester quiz that students take to test and reinforce their knowledge of academic integrity. They can also be used as group quizzes where students work together to select the best answer then share with the whole class which possible answers they selected and why. The correct answers are noted in bold italics and followed by sample feedback for correct answers.

Questions & Answers

  1. Which of the following is NOT important to academic integrity?
    1. Completing academic assignments in an honest and accurate manner.
    2. Properly acknowledging and citing sources of information.
    3. Assuming school and departmental policies are all exactly alike. (correct answer)
    4. Responsibly incorporating accurate and truthful research information or data.

Feedback: Correct! Activities that are considered academic dishonesty or “cheating” can vary according to specific departmental or course policies. When unsure, seek clarification on course policies and assignment guidelines for admissible project resources.

  1. Which of the following does NOT constitute an instance of plagiarism?
    1. Misattributing a research source from an article you neglect to acknowledge.
    2. Directly quoting from a text without using quotation marks.
    3. Using someone else’s words or ideas without proper citation.
    4. Carefully documenting sources of information using APA, MLA or Chicago/Turabian Style Manuals. (correct answer)

Feedback: Correct! Academic citation style guides provide rigorous formats that can help you to adequately cite sources of information from almost any imaginable source.

  1. Which of the following best summarizes why careful citations matter?
    1. Citation is important only if an instructor will grade grammar rigorously.
    2. Citation is important for documenting primary and secondary sources of information to verify accuracy, credibility, and expert consensus. (correct answer)
    3. Careful citation using a style manual is all you need for academic integrity.
    4. Following a citation style manual will focus a research topic.

Feedback: Correct! Well-documented citation is important for directing others to locate and assess sources of information as they engage in their own research. It also helps instructors to evaluate student mastery of the topic.

  1. Which of the following parties is ultimately responsible for academic integrity?
    1. The Student (correct answer)
    2. The Instructor/Professor
    3. Institutional policies
    4. Assignment guidelines

Feedback: THE STUDENT. Academic integrity is the responsibility of the student or scholar, who is expected to adhere to the highest ethical principles for truthful, accurate, and reliable research and scholarship. Negligent or careless research citation should be avoided.

  1. Which of the following is NOT a risky practice of questionable Academic Integrity?
    1. Self-Plagiarism of prior work for separate course credit without express authorization.
    2. Patch-writing Plagiarism of “copy-paste” content without responsible citation.
    3. Team Plagiarism of shared assignment labor for individual credit.
    4. Seeking Assistance from Librarians and Writing Labs (correct answer)

Feedback: To summarize the sage advice of a trusted mentor: Seeking permission is far more effective than begging forgiveness.

References

Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research. (2016). Teaching Resources for Engaged Educators [online training modules]. Denton, TX: University of North Texas.