General Considerations

This resource begins from the assertion that faculty may “reduc[e] that incentive and opportunity for students to cheat by increasing their desire and ability to learn.”[1] From this starting premise, we offer these first considerations for designing assignments that encourage students to engage with course material actively and deeply—and with integrity:

Determine your goals for student learning at the course level. Choose a sequence of assignments that will allow your students to deepen as well as demonstrate their learning over the term, such as assignments that ask students to:

  • Apply their knowledge in a new context
  • Make original arguments using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Evaluate potential solutions to a problem
  • Combine or curate course materials in original ways

Develop grading criteria that reflect your goals for student learning; reward what you value. Share your rubrics with your students, and explain how they will engage in the production of knowledge (however preliminarily) through your course.

State your course policies, including your expectations for academic honesty, your collaboration policy, and your extension policy on your syllabus and individual assignments. Acknowledge if there are online or existing resources available to students; advise students on how or whether to use them, and explain how their learning may be affected by using these resources.

Require students to cite faithfully and accurately, even on preliminary or initial assignments like response papers or drafts, so that students understand the purpose and importance of citation to academic work.

Recognize that what is intuitive to you as an expert (e.g., when and what to cite, how to collaborate appropriately, how to distinguish your own voice from other writers’) may not be to your students. For instance, novice writers may have a difficult time integrating their own voice with that of experts, and can unintentionally engage in “patch writing” that blends their voice and the words of their sources.[2]

Analyze student performance on your assignments, and use your analysis and student feedback to update your prompts or problems the next time you teach. [3] In addition to improving your students’ learning experience, refreshing your assignments helps guard against academic dishonesty.

Resources and General Bibliography:

Anderson, Lorin W., and David R. Krathwohl. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman, 2001. Print.
Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993. Print.
Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996. Print.
Bloom, Benjamin S. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives; the Classification of Educational Goals. New York: Longmans, Green, 1956. Print.
Fink, L. Dee. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003. Print.
Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998. Print.
Willingham, Daniel T. Why Don't Students like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.

[1] James M. Lang, Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty (Harvard UP, 2013), 56. Lang identifies environments that may provoke cheating as ones that emphasize performance and extrinsic success rather than learning and intrinsic motivation.
[2] Rebecca Moore Howard, “Plagiarisms, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty,” College English , Vol. 57, No. 7 (Nov 1995), 788-806 (accessed November 7, 2013).
[3] For a discussion of the use of assessment information for instructional decision making, see Susan M. Brookhart, “Assessment Theory for the College Classroom,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 100 (Winter 2004), 5-14.