Notes on Academic Integrity

(Adapted from a document prepared by Bill Taylor, Professor of Political Science, at Oakton Community College, Des Moines, IL.  Used with permission of the author.)

Integrity is a crucial element of any educational experience: you need to trust in my integrity to provide you with meaningful instruction and feedback on your work, and I need to trust in your integrity to do your work honestly, to the best of your ability, and in a timely fashion.

It can seem easy at times to justify plagiarism or cheating or careless work if we think something isn’t that important in the first place.  However, would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who cheated his or her way through medical school?  Integrity matters, because it is the foundation of social trust.  It also matters in this course, because it is the foundation of your educational experience.  If I lack integrity in my instruction, then I am cheating you.  If you lack integrity in your coursework, you are cheating yourself.

This document lays out what academic integrity requires of you and of me.

1. Preparation for Class

My Responsibilities:

  • Reread the assigned readings
  • Clarify information I might not be clear about
  • Prepare the class with an eye to what is needed by this class at this time (i.e. not use old notes)
  • Plan our use of time so that it is worth your while to be present

Your Responsibilities:

  • Read the assigned readings before coming to class
  • Clarify anything you’re unsure of (e. g. look up words you don’t know)
  • Complete any writing tasks required for class
  • Prepare any questions you might have to ask in class and be ready to contribute to class discussions or workshops

2.  In Class

My Responsibilities:

  • Show up for all classes, unless I’m simply unable to do so
  • Come to class on time, and not leave early
  • Not waste class time
  • Do my best to answer your questions, and if I don’t have the answer immediately, find it for the next class
  • Encourage you and give you opportunity to participate in discussions and workshops
  • Check you if your enthusiasm makes it difficult for others to participate
  • Assume that you are prepared for class and that I won’t embarrass you if I ask you a question
  • Respect the views you express and not make fun of them
  • Not allow others to ridicule you or your ideas, nor you to do the same to them
  • Correct errors in understanding or expression as they may arise in class to ensure that there is no confusion about concepts or language standards
  • Make clear when I am expressing an opinion and not impose my views on controversial subjects

Your Responsibilities:

  • Show up for all classes, unless you’re simply not able to do so
  • Come to class on time and not leave early, nor walk in and out repeatedly during class
  • Make good use of class time by being engaged in what’s going on
  • Ask questions about anything you don’t understand
  • Participate in class discussions to contribute your thinking to the shared effort to develop understanding and insight
  • Monitor your own participation so as to allow for and encourage the participation of others
  • Respect other students and me by not making fun of us or our ideas, and by not holding one-sided conversations that distract us from the class discussion

3. Exams

My Responsibilities:

  • Do my best during class time to prepare you for exams
  • Be available during office hours or at arranged times to work with you individually to prepare for exams
  • Develop exam questions that will be a meaningful test not only of course content, but of your ability to express and defend intelligent judgments about that content in language that meets academic literacy standards
  • Carefully monitor exams so that honest students will not be disadvantaged by other students who might choose to cheat if given the opportunity
  • Give due and careful consideration to your answers when evaluating them

Your Responsibilities:

  • Come to the exam having done your best to prepare for it, including seeking my help if you need it
  • Make full use of the time available to write the best answers you can
  • Accept your limitations and not try to get around them by using cheat sheets, copying, or seeking help from other students
  • Neither help other students nor make it easy for them to copy from you

4. Written Assignments

My Responsibilities:

  • Devise meaningful assignments that grow out of and further the work done in the classroom
  • Provide you with a clear description of the assignment so that you know what is expected of you and what I’ll be looking for when I grade it
  • Be available during office hours or at specified times to give you individual help during the writing process
  • Give due and careful consideration to your assignment when evaluating it
  • Confront you if I suspect that you have plagiarized or in other ways handed in work that is not entirely your own

Your Responsibilities:

  • Start your research (if required) and writing early enough to ensure that you have the time you need to do your best work
  • Seek help during the writing process if you need it, either from me or the Writing Centre; seek only appropriate help from others (i.e. neither use an editor nor allow a family member or friend to provide you with content)
  • Hand in a paper which you have done specifically for this course and not borrowed from someone else or recycled from an earlier course
  • Give full and proper credit to all your sources (not to do so is plagiarism)

5. Your Final Grade

My academic integrity requires me to carefully weigh all of your grades during the course, as well as the other factors that affect the final grade (as spelled out in the course syllabus), before assigning a final grade

If you feel I’ve made a mistake in computing your final grade, come to me as soon as possible, prepared to show why you think I’ve made a mistake

6.  Failure to Live up to Our Responsibilities

In all of the areas listed above, I will do my best to live up to my responsibilities.  If I fail to do so, you have every right to call me on it.  If you do so, I have a responsibility to give you respectful consideration.  If you feel that I do not do these things, you have the right (and the responsibility) to bring this to the attention of my dean.

At the same time, I have the right to expect that you will live up to your responsibilities.  If I get the sense that you’re not doing so, it is a matter of my academic integrity to call you on it.  Indeed, in certain circumstances, such as plagiarism or cheating, I may be required to charge you under VIU’s Policy on Academic Misconduct (see p. 35 of the Calendar). Before doing so, I would always contact you to discuss the situation.

If we all conduct ourselves with academic integrity, we will have an enjoyable and productive class together.

T. Doughty

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