Teaching Strategies

Defining Academic Integrity

A review of Boston College’s own academic integrity policy reveals areas of general consensus and points of divergence in how instructors define academic dishonesty, depending on their discipline, course goals, personal academic history, and teaching philosophy.

All instructors agree that buying a paper, smuggling answers into an exam, or passing quotes off as creative work are clear instances of academic dishonesty. However, there are a number of points where instructors may disagree about where to place the boundaries around academic dishonesty, including what constitutes appropriate levels of peer collaboration, whether it is a good or dishonest practice to ask family or friends to review work, and whether or not submitting the same or similar papers in more than one class is fair academic practice. 

Gaining personal clarity around what constitutes academic integrity and communicating those standards clearly to students – with awareness that they are encountering other instructors with other standards elsewhere at the university – is one way instructors can address this teaching challenge. Faculty have a number of opportunities to highlight the operative standards for academic integrity in their classroom, including on their syllabus, in their assignment descriptions and rubrics, and in class discussions.