Promoting Academic Integrity in Your Course

Seemingly every year, there is a new platform or website that prompts us to think about how we are assessing student learning and how we can ensure that students are demonstrating what they know with integrity. What follows are several strategies for promoting academic integrity, as well as some specific information on Artificial Intelligence tools (or AI tools, e.g., ChatGPT) that may help inform how you assess learning and create a learning environment that fosters trust and academic integrity.

Strategy #1: Design Opportunities for Authentic Assessment

Perhaps the most effective strategy for ensuring academic integrity involves authentic assessment—tasks that call for students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have learned in a real-world (or close to real, authentic) context. Authentic assessment requires students to transfer knowledge, often by engaging in higher order thinking skills (see Bloom’s Taxonomy). The extent to which assignments call for the demonstration of learning in authentic, creative, and/or personalized ways minimizes students’ ability to outsource academic work. This might involve having students identify themes in various course readings, class discussions, learning experiences (e.g., a lab, service-project), or their personal lived experience. Furthermore, designing maximally authentic assignments is an evidence-based practice that will help students engage more meaningfully with course content.

For more on assignment design with an awareness of AI bots (e.g., ChatGPT), please see the specific information included below

Strategy #2: Structure Assignments to Lower Grade Anxiety

The following strategies can lower anxiety, which drives many students to consider cheating.

  • Build structured flexibility into due dates (e.g., by offering a set number of late submissions)
  • Allow more time for major assignments (whether as a general rule or by individual request)
  • Scaffold major assignments, establishing incremental check-ins or due dates to ensure students are making adequate progress
  • Redistribute the relative weight of major assessments, to reduce the stakes of any one assignment

Strategy #3: Communicate Why Academic Integrity Matters

Have clear expectations and take time to explicitly and repeatedly highlight relevant sections of your syllabus (e.g., descriptions of assignments, sources of academic support, flexible due dates, appropriate use of AI tools, relative weights of assignments, etc.), the University’s commitment to academic integrity, and your own commitment to supporting students. For additional guidance and sample syllabus language, visit our Canvas site, "Create a Student-Centered Syllabus" under the "Academic Freedom" tab in "Course Management and Policies."

Make sure students are aware of Cornell’s Code of Academic Integrity. You may also wish to include an academic integrity affirmation (e.g., test item, statement) that students complete on your syllabus or individual assignments.

Explicitly ask students to honor the Code of Academic Integrity. Here are some sample appeals you can modify for your needs:

Logical appeal

Cheating diminishes the value of this credential/course/degree. There will very soon come a time when you will need the skills and knowledge being assessed in this course, and you don’t want to find yourself in a position in which your pre-requisite/credentialed knowledge is fraudulent.

Emotional (moral) appeal

Cheating is a temptation, of course, but it’s your personal integrity on the line. We are Cornell (YOU are Cornell), and we are called to do the right thing.  

Personal appeal

As I have made every effort to continue our class’s sense of community and purpose, I’m asking you to make every effort to be honest and honorable in the demonstration of what you have learned in our class.

You may also want to make students aware of the role that academic freedom plays alongside academic integrity in terms of building trust and respect in the classroom. Communicate that each person in class is expected to respect the principles of academic freedom for instructors and classmates and will maintain the privacy of the classroom environment, as outlined in Cornell’s S20 Commitment to Academic Integrity, Equitable Instruction, Trust, and Respect.  

Let students know that you are but one of many resources on campus that are available to help with their specific challenges. This could even include creating a brief assignment to promote students’ familiarity with the supports available to them. Knowing that you are aware and that you appreciate how challenging the undergraduate experience can be may encourage students to come to you before compromising their integrity.

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