What Faculty Need to Know: From Students

Student members of the Academic Integrity Curricular Working Group shared their ideas about how instructors can create a culture of academic integrity (AI) and, more generally, academic community, in their courses. The following suggestions are drawn from student experiences in great classes; they are only suggestions but we hope they provide some inspiration. We are indebted to Nate Bernstein ‘17, Sietse Goffard ‘15, Jonathan Jeffrey ‘16, Terah Lyons ’14, and Olivia Zhu ’15 for their thoughtful contributions and excellent counsel.  

On the course website:

  • Have a statement of integrity that is specific to the work in your course.
    • “It is very nice when the instructor has modified the standard AI statement; it shows that they care about AI."
  • Discuss what teaching means to you:  why do you care about this?

On the first day of class (during shopping period):

  • Include your customized AI statement on your syllabus.
  • State your expectations for the class (what the students should do to submit work with integrity) and your parallel responsibilities to class (what you as the instructor should do to create and support a culture of academic integrity).
  • Verbally outline academic policies and why AI is important (“not just to avoid Honor Council/discipline but why it is important to the learning process”).
  • If you are asking for student commitment, demonstrate your own. 
    • For example: “one professor said [to our class]: ‘I will always make time for you’ – with regard to scheduling office hours by appointment.  Another important comment is:  ‘You don’t need to have something particular in mind to talk to me – I know sometimes people feel intimidated and don’t come.’  Show us that you are as invested in this as we are expected to be.”

During the first week (post-shopping): 

  • Establish a pact between students and professor (and course staff) on owning and taking pride in work for the course – on both ends.
  • Emphasize importance of learning, not just completing class assignments. Be very clear about assignment schedule and expectations, but ensure that environment in class is learning-focused, not grade-focused. 

On assignments:

  • Provide a course-specific description of any forms of collaboration that are permitted – or expressly prohibited – for the assignment.
  • Encourage students to start assignments early and provide incentives for those who do.  Offer to read drafts, prospectus, etc. if they are submitted with plenty of time before the assignments due date.
  • Have extra, publicized office hour sessions well before p-sets are due.

Before major evaluations (exams, essays, etc.):

  • Share information about resources available to students – encourage students to reach out to professor/TF if they face problems/difficulties with assignments.
  • Offer evening Skype office hours if necessary, hold later/longer office hours.
  • Comprehensive and organized exam reviews are more useful than Q&A based exam reviews.

Miscellaneous ideas:

  • Encourage/require students to meet with professor/TFs (not directly related to conversation about AI, but incredibly helpful at creating community within class/section).
  • Extend mentorship program – some sort of opt-in program so students can be paired with professors / TFs.
  • “Mandatory” lunch sign ups – must sign up for a lunch or meeting with professor, or else grade is dropped by ⅓ of a letter.
  • Should be very clear when and where office hours are (also, office hours should be more than one hour).