Every decision in life has a push and pull factor; from what are we moving away and towards what are we moving. When confronted with the choice to take a shortcut solution and engage in academic misconduct, struggling students may feel they are moving towards a better course grade and away from the stress of learning. They may weigh the options of getting caught and being punished, without the awareness of long-term learning outcomes. 

Research shows the need to make clear to students the policies around an institution’s commitment to academic integrity to prevent instances of plagiarism, contract cheating, collusion, and other forms of academic dishonesty. 

But if academic dishonesty is purely punitive, thus making misconduct solely something to avoid, students still won’t understand why it is so important to foster original ideas, attribution, and other forms of academic integrity. Ensuring that students not only move away from academic dishonesty due to punishment but also towards academic integrity helps bolster life-long learning and upholds the academic reputation of an institution. 

So, we’d like to take this moment to share why academic integrity is important to teaching and learning. 

  • Academic integrity supports learning opportunities. Shortcut solutions like plagiarism, contract cheating, and test banks deprive students of learning opportunities. When the work is not the student’s own, they aren’t putting their original thoughts on paper. Students then lose the opportunity to receive feedback that is accurate based on their needs and the resulting support they may need to further their learning journey.
  • Accurate assessment of student learning is dependent on academic integrity. When student answers aren’t their own, it is impossible for educators to get an accurate assessment of learning and to provide feedback or make informed changes to a teaching curriculum. 
  • Respect for learning starts with academic integrity. Academic misconduct disrespects the academic work of others and breaks down trust. Respect is a qualitative factor that has long-term consequences in lifelong learning. For both students and researchers, proper attribution is critical. 
  • Academic integrity is an indicator of future workplace behavior. According to research, academic dishonesty in school leads to dishonesty in the workplace). The academic integrity journey must be firmly established to ensure a lifetime of integrity. 

In their research, Guerrero-Dib, Portales, and Heredia-Escorza state, “Academic integrity is much more than avoiding dishonest practices such as copying during exams, plagiarizing or contract cheating; it implies an engagement with learning and work which is well done, complete, and focused on a good purpose— learning.” While shortcut solutions belittle education, academic integrity takes advantage of and embraces every learning opportunity.

This post originally appeared on the Turnitin Blog.

What do you do to cultivate academic integrity at your school? Comment below!

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About the Author

Christine Lee is an educator and author. She works at Turnitin.

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