Teaching academic integrity

Instructors and teaching assistants like you are students’ primary sources for learning about academic integrity. On this page, find resources, advice, and ideas to help you build academic integrity into your courses. In particular, these approaches build from the principle that you have a responsibility to teach academic integrity in every course, at every level. 

Include an academic integrity statement in your syllabus, discuss academic integrity early and often in your course, and design assignments that cultivate and reward academic integrity. 

Approaches to consider for teaching with integrity

Syllabus statement

Providing a clear, accurate, and explicit statement about how you expect your students to do their work in your course with integrity, and why, is an easy way to establish a framework of integrity from the very beginning. The components of an effective syllabus statement are:

  • Begin with a rationale, stating why academic integrity matters – in this course, at UBC, in the wider scholarly community – and why you commit to taking it so seriously.
  • Articulate, briefly, what working with integrity looks like: acknowledging others’ work you draw upon, for example, or submitting accurate data.
  • Provide examples of what violations of academic integrity look like by highlighting the issues that are most common.
  • State how cases of suspected misconduct will be addressed, e.g., “all cases of suspected misconduct will be investigated and reported to the department head.”
  • Include links to resources to help students know more about the expectations and policies, and how to get help to meet those expectations.

An editable Word document is available to assist you in creating your syllabus statement (docx).

Discuss academic integrity early and often

While a syllabus statement on academic integrity is a great start, this foundational idea needs to come “off the page” and live in your course in a meaningful way. Otherwise, students may gloss over it as just another course policy, rather than a key expectation of how they do their work.

Discuss contract cheating with your students:

  • Define what it looks like, or what forms of it are most common in relation to your class;  
  • Share information about how contract cheating companies work;  
  • Provide resources — such as time management, research, and student services guides — to help students see better options. 

Assignment design

Broadly, academic activities fall into the categories of creative pursuits and production of knowledge (e.g. writing a paper) and demonstrating knowledge (e.g. tests).

For each assignment, include explicit academic integrity evaluation criteria on the instruction sheet or rubric.  

Also, give time in class for discussion and questions about how to work in ways that meet the expectations of academic integrity. Get students to problem-solve, especially for assignments — such as group work, online tests, or oral or visual presentations – that they may not have done before, or that present particular challenges, such as: 

  • What does academic integrity look like in this application? 
  • What are the challenges?  
  • What are the solutions / strategies we could use to ensure academic integrity? 

Instructional practices

Make academic integrity a course learning outcome

This strategy reinforces that this expectation is not a minor “rule” but a foundational part of the learning students will need to demonstrate in the course. You’ll find examples of such statements on the Academic Integrity Faculty Resources site.

Facilitate an activity about academic integrity

In a discussion or low-stakes activity, have students define academic integrity and why it matters to them. This activity can lead to a group agreement or class charter, or simply provide an opportunity for them to think about what this concept means, and get to ask questions about it. For an example of such an activity, see the Academic Integrity Faculty Resources site.

Learning activities

Require students to complete academic integrity instructional activities or readings as prerequisite to submitting their first assignment. The Introduction to Academic Integrity Canvas course is a good way to start. People who complete this course receive a downloadable certificate that can be attached to an assignment or submitted to you. 

Another example could include an academic integrity “quiz”, such as Dr. Laurie McNeill’s Creative Commons licensed example (pptx). Instructors could also invite questions from the class to use in a discussion or assignment about academic integrity.

Academic integrity and student wellbeing

It is essential to recognize that students often commit misconduct because they are dealing with non-academic issues. These can be due to–medical or personal crises, or because they haven’t yet mastered the academic work habits –such as project/time management, note-taking, or research skills– they need to do their work in timely and effective ways. In your syllabus and/or your Canvas site, include links to resources that students in these situations could consult. Ideally, talk about those resources in class, too; right before mid-terms and near the end of the course would be “just-in-time” reminders that they may need. Students have varying levels of awareness about UBC’s standards for academic integrity due to their diverse past educational experiences, which is why teaching academic integrity is a crucial step in making them responsible and thriving members of the learning community. 

Keynote Lecture, Academic Integrity Week 2021