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Academic Integrity in Assignment Situations

General Tips for Faculty

  1. Students’ perceptions of academic integrity will vary, so make your expectations consistent and clear.

    Develop a course protocol document that appeals to students’ virtues, principles, and reasoning. This could be done collaboratively with input from the students themselves. Ask them questions such as “What constitutes academic dishonesty?” “What is intrinsically wrong or problematic about this behaviour?” “What can we, as a learning community, do to prevent this sort of activity in our course?” Use Conestoga’s Academic Integrity website or relevant policies and procedures to guide this activity.
  2. A culture of integrity is best achieved through modelling and mentorship.

    As faculty, we must assess our own practices and resources (slides, handouts, postings, publications, etc.) to ensure we’re appropriately acknowledging and citing the work of others. When we model scholarly behaviour, we encourage students to follow our lead.
  3. Academic Integrity is a shared responsibility.

    Refer students to key supports.  Try instituting a “three-before-me” routine wherein students identify three steps they will take to get feedback prior to submission. Feedback sources could include visiting the Library for research advice, making an appointment at the Learning Commons, making an appointment with you for formative feedback, or arranging a peer feedback session.
  4. Students are more likely to cheat when they’re anxious or worried.

    Provide the scaffolding needed to make course outcomes achievable, and inspire student autonomy by offering choice over the content and/or process and/or product that they are assigned.  
  5. Instances of academic dishonesty shouldn’t be ignored.

    Even with all your efforts at prevention, the students might use pieces of someone else’s work in an attempt to subvert the system and get a higher grade (plagiarism) or even buy or borrow someone else’s work (cheating). Such cases must be filed as Academic Offences.

Specific Strategies to Enhance Assignment Practices


  1. Draw the line between formatting errors and subversion.

    Define and demonstrate the differences between these occurrences, and inform the class that while formatting errors (e.g. improper use of punctuation, spacing, etc.) may not be considered academic offences, they will be assessed on the rubric and have an impact on grades.
  2. Provide an example of previous student work (with permission).

    Highlight how the exemplar meets expectations, and remind students that this resource is being presented as a guideline, not a template to copy.
  3. Use examples of citations in your teaching practice.

    Try saying things like, “As you can see I am quoting directly from _____. They conducted research on _____.” and “This slide summarizes a research study by _____. You can see my citation here and the associated reference on the last slide.” and “Here I am paraphrasing the findings of _________. Note the citation with the authors and the year.”
  4. Ask an expert to visit your class to explain best practices in academic integrity.

    Library Services can advise students on how to collect, conduct, cite, and reference research, while the Writing Consultants can advise on how to write, cite, and format research reports. 
  5. Where appropriate, use technology (e.g. Turnitin, Google, etc.) to support your review of student content, but recognize its limitations.

    If you use Turnitin, be sure to consult the Instructor Guide beforehand.  Click the “Turnitin” button in the Conestoga dropbox and allow multiple submissions so students can check their own papers for originality and make adjustments prior to submitting the finished product.
  6. Do not recycle assignment prompts and topics.

    Change the variables within topics each semester, or better yet, personalize the task to each student.
  7. Limit the number of sources and the size of the final product.

    Carefully consider how much you need to read and the student needs to research and write so that you have evidence that they have met the course learning outcomes.
  8. Assess PROCESS and PRODUCT separately so that students can see your expectations for both.

    Have an in-class workshop after they do their preliminary research, and ask students to bring evidence of their work to-date. Circulate and provide feedback and guidance. You can reward this with a section on the final rubric for evidence of preliminary work.
  9. Provide parameters around collaboration.

    Inform students, very explicitly within the assignment instructions, whether they are expected to complete assignments independently or collaboratively. Reiterate this when providing verbal instructions, as well.
  10. Where appropriate, offer extensions.

Although deferred deadlines are not always ideal or feasible, sometimes the only thing a student needs to produce honest and authentic work is a little more time.