40 Promoting academic integrity

A student taking notes while holding open a book in an English class.

The University of Iowa Academic Misconduct Policy forbids committing plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic fraud. 

Sometimes academic dishonesty can be caused by cultural misunderstandings and language differences, impostor phenomenon, and low self-esteem (Whitley and Keith-Spiegel, 2002). This understanding can guide instructors in their course and assessment design and minimize academic dishonesty. To reduce plagiarism and promote academic integrity:

  • Be transparent about expectations, assignment purpose, policies, and academic culture. Explain what constitutes plagiarism and cheating and why they are barriers to learning. Encourage shared values (e.g., trust and belonging) for your class as a learning community. For instance, if there is a group work component in your class, be clear about what aspects of the project students are supposed to do on their own. Provide examples of what you would consider an academic integrity violation. If you are teaching a foreign language, share in what cases they can discuss materials with native speakers and in which instances it would be considered cheating.
  • Promote a dialogue on shared values (e.g., trust and belonging) for your class as a learning community. To foster a growth mindset and inclusivity in your classroom, explain knowledge ownership and attribution, or through relational accountability or restorative justice.
  • Foster a sense of belonging and a supportive class climate. In his book Cheating Lessons, James Lang points out that there is a correlation between academic fraud and dishonesty and how the learning environment is structured (Lang, 2013). Establishing a learning-centered environment where students feel comfortable reaching out to you with questions or difficulties and helping your students develop a growth mindset and a metacognitive awareness can help mitigate plagiarism and cheating. Encourage your students to reach out if they are unsure whether they have accidentally plagiarized or if they are struggling to paraphrase/summarize something.
  • Design authentic assignments (see the Authentic assessments chapter), modify exam prompts and questions yearly, scaffold assignments, and ask open-ended questions requiring higher-order thinking and connections to individual personal and intellectual experiences.

📚 If you are a TA with concerns about a student, let your supervising faculty know.

If you think that a student in your course has violated the UI Code of Academic Honesty, first pause and consider potential implicit biases that could affect this assumption. After assessing them, you could meet with the student outside the class, share your concerns, ask the student open-ended questions about what happened, and try to avoid generalizations and assumptions. Even if you discover that the student has committed fraud, treat them respectfully. Consider sharing academic support resources. Be transparent about the consequences by referring to the Code of Academic Honesty.


💡 Share a way you are planning to promote academic integrity to your students and establish a supportive and learning-centered environment, trust and to promote academic integrity.



Handbook for Teaching Excellence Copyright © 2022 by University of Iowa - Center for Teaching. All Rights Reserved.

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