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The Baruch College Faculty Handbook

Best Practices (Re Academic Integrity)

Last updated on 11/13/2002

Note: the following is posted with the permission of its author, Prof. Bill Taylor of Oakton Community College (Des Plaines, IL). It stems from "a new initiative that we are in the process of developing here at Oakton that's based on the assumption (growing out of research that Don McCabe has done) that if faculty commit themselves to talk about and modeling integrity in their professional lives, this will help encourage students to do the same. Feel free to use this as well, although it's still a work in progress. (You'll see that a lot of it is drawn from the letter.)"
- email from Prof. Taylor dated 10/21/02

Best Practices:
Promoting Integrity in Academic Life and Beyond

We faculty members at Oakton community College, sharing a commitment to academic integrity, acknowledge that one of our professional responsibilities is to model the kind of integrity we wish our students to develop. By letting them know that the norms of academic integrity apply every bit as much to us as they do to them, and then living up to those standards, we can bear witness to the values that motivate us as professionals and the values we wish to help foster in our students as a result of their experience in our classroom.

To that end, we pledge to conduct our professional lives in accordance with the standards of behavior spelled out below in the list of Best Practices of Academic Integrity, choosing from that list those practices that best fit our teaching style and the circumstances under which we teach. We will in addition talk with our students about our commitment to academic integrity, letting them know what they can expect from us and what we expect from them.

Best Practices in Academic Integrity

I. When Preparing a Course

With regard to preparing a course, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher:
· give careful consideration to the syllabus to make sure s/he updates it to reflect the latest scholarship and the best available texts, and that s/he clearly spells out the nature of the work that will be expected of the students, and
· respect copyrights, trademarks, and patents (on software, for example).

II. At the Beginning of the Semester

The principles of academic integrity require that at the beginning of the semester the teacher:
· provide the students with a syllabus that clearly spells out course requirements, teacher expectations, and the grading process, and
· discuss why s/he is committed to academic integrity and why integrity is important for the discipline, perhaps including examples of how professionals in the discipline have violated those principles, and the consequences of those violations.

III. When Preparing for Class

With regard to coming prepared for class, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher come having done the things necessary to make the class a worthwhile educational experience for the students. This requires that s/he:
· stay up to date on recent scholarship and trends in the discipline, as well as the current issues,
· give credit to his or her sources,
· reread the assigned text materials in preparation for class,
· clarify information s/he might not be clear about,
· recognize that some subjects may be uncomfortable for some students and try to find ways to deal with those issues in a direct, constructive manner,
· prepare the class with an eye toward what is current today (that is, not simply rely on past notes), and
· create opportunities for intellectual growth rather than devoting class time to a recitation of facts or restating what the students can learn for themselves by reading the text.

IV. In Class

With regard to class sessions, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher take her/his students seriously and treat them with respect. This requires that s/he:
· show up for all class sessions, unless s/he’s simply unable to do so,
· come to class on time, and for the most part, not end the class early or keep the class late,
· not waste class time, but use it well to fulfil the objectives of the course,
· do his or her best to answer the students’ questions, or arrange to do so outside of class,
· honestly acknowledge when s/he doesn’t have an answer or doesn’t know something, and then go out and get an answer by the next class,
· make clear when s/he’s expressing an opinion, and not impose on the students her or his views on controversial issues,
· treat all students the same and not play favorites in applying the policies spelled out in the syllabus,
· both encourage the students, and give each of them an equal opportunity, to participate in class discussions,
· contain those students whose enthusiasm for participating in the discussion makes it difficult for others to participate,
· respect the views the students express and not make fun of the students or their views,
· engage in an ongoing process of self-evaluation of the effectiveness of teaching methods and whether students are learning from those methods,
· not allow students to ridicule other students or their ideas,
· not talk with students about other students or faculty members,
· adequately prepare students to do the class assignment or activity,
· encourage the students to ask her or him and not their classmates for help with assignments and laboratories,
· work to identify students who look as though they may not have the study skills and/or study habits necessary to succeed without cheating, and either work with them to help them develop those skills and habits, or take them to Instructional Support Services where they can get help, and
· know what his or her students are capable of doing by watching them work in laboratory situations.

V. With Regard to Student Contact Outside of Class

With regard to being available to students outside of class, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher:
· be available during office hours or at arranged times to work with students on an individual basis, and
· return calls and emails in a timely fashion.

VI. With Regard to Exams

With regard to exams, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher:
· do his or her best during class time, and through appropriate and meaningful out-of-class assignments, to prepare the students for the exams,
· develop exam questions that will be a meaningful test not only of the course content, but also of the student’s ability to express and defend intelligent judgments about that content,
· make clear what constitutes a violation of academic integrity with regard to exams,
· carefully monitor the exam so that honest students will not feel disadvantaged by other students who might choose to cheat if given the opportunity,
· be aware of the fatigue factor when grading exams, and
· give due and careful consideration to exam answers when evaluating them and assigning a grade.

VII. With Regard to Written Assignments

With regard to written assignments, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher:
· devise meaningful assignments that grow out of and further the work done in the classroom,
· provide students with a clear written description of that assignment so they know what is expected of them and what the teacher will be looking for when grading it,
· make clear what constitutes a violation of academic integrity with regard to written assignments,
· find out if students know how to do the assignment, and if not, teach them how to do so,
· look at the students’ work at the various stages of a long term assignment,
· give due and careful consideration to the papers when evaluating them and assigning a grade,
· return assignments in a timely fashion, and
· confront students whom s/he suspects of having plagiarized or in other ways not handed in work that is entirely their own.

VIII. With Regard to Assigning Final Grades

With regard to your final grade, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher:
· carefully weigh all of the student’s grades during the course, as well as the other factors that affect the final grade as spelled out in the syllabus, before assigning a final grade, and
· give respectful consideration to students who question the grade they received.

IX. With Regard to Academic Integrity Violations

With regard to possible academic integrity violations on the part of students, the principles of academic integrity require that the teacher:
· Not overlook a possible violation, but take the time and make the effort to determine if a violation did occur, and
· be familiar with and follow the institution’s policy on dealing with academic integrity violations.