Discussing Academic Integrity with Your Students

While the University takes the position that it is the student’s responsibility to know the Code and understand what constitutes an academic offence, it is the responsibility of every instructor to educate their students about the principles of academic integrity, and to direct them to the appropriate resources and supports.

It is important to raise the topic of academic integrity with your class, in order to:

  • Reinforce that the University takes academic integrity seriously
  • Reinforce the importance of integrity in their current academic life and future career
  • Educate and inform students about academic offences and how to avoid them
  • Promote continued discussion and encourage questions from students

Many students are uninformed about academic integrity and are unprepared to recognize or respond to situations in which they are vulnerable to committing an offence. Plagiarism often arises because of poor writing and research habits, such as the inability to paraphrase and summarize, or losing track of sources and references. For example, when asked, students will typically be able to define plagiarism, but this does not necessarily mean they will know how to recognize plagiarism in their own work.

The following strategies can help you increase academic integrity awareness and help you begin conversations with your students:

  • Ask your students to define important terms such as plagiarism, collaboration, paraphrase, summarize, editing and proofreading.
  • Talk with your class about the meaning of citations and why they are made. Understand that students from outside Canada may have different perceptions of ownership of ideas.
  • State and explain your expectations regarding group work and collaboration. Make clear what is expected regarding individual contributions and submitting individual work.
  • Provide examples of correct citations and both direct quotations and paraphrases. Include this in your syllabus or with your assignment handout.
  • Where possible, discuss research and writing techniques with your students. Provide documentation that will assist them with writing papers (proper citation methods), such as the advice pages found on http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/ (e.g. Citation Methods, How Not to Plagiarize, and Paraphrase and Summary).
  • Integrate the writing centre and/or the library into your course.
    • Provide information about courses/services offered
    • Invite writing centre/library staff into your class
    • Design a library-based assignment
  • Avoid speaking confrontationally about academic offences, which can alienate good students. Promote fairness in your course and be open to questions.
  • Remember that providing a link to a resource or distributing a handout without discussing it is a passive strategy. Reinforce the importance of the aids you have provided by referring to them in class and in your communications.
  • Model good practice – be sure to include proper citations on your course materials, website, and in your lectures.