Do’s and Don’ts for Promoting Academic Integrity

Donald McCabe’ s 2005 article “Cheating Among College And University Students: A North American Perspective” is often cited for its sobering statistics regarding the prevalence of cheating in higher education.

The numbers are alarming and do require a serious response, but have you ever turned the numbers upside down? For example, if 42 percent of college students admit to working with others on individual assignments, that means 58 percent aren’t getting help from others and those students would like you to do something about the 42 percent. If 38 percent admit to plagiarizing, that means 62 percent aren’t plagiarizing and those students expect you to do something about the 38 percent.

It’s an interesting view presented by Tricia Bertram Gallant, PhD, academic integrity coordinator at the University of California, San Diego, during the recent online seminar Teaching Integrity: Effective Responses to Cheating. The seminar challenged participants to dispel some of the myths around student cheating and rethink their role in establishing a culture of integrity.

“The common theme for today and for all my writing really is about encouraging students, teachers and administrators to not focus on policing, preventing and punishing cheating, which is by far the most typical response, but focus more on the more realistic picture of student cheating, the positive responses of infusing academic integrity back into our daily conversations in the classroom and in our responses to cheating.”

Promoting Academic Integrity
During the seminar, Bertram Gallant shared the following do’s and don’ts for promoting academic integrity in the college classroom.

  • Be clear about your expectations and rules for completing every assignment and test.
  • Model integrity by citing your sources, showing up on time and prepared, and changing your exams and assignments from year to year.
  • Limit temptations for cheating during your examinations.
  • Work with your school’s policy and processes to reduce cheating.
  • Rethink your out-of-class assignments – are they really measuring what you think they are?
  • See academic and professional integrity as part of your teaching job – it may be one of the most important things you teach!


  • Assume the students know which behaviors are cheating and which are not.
  • Tell students “don’t cheat or else” and expect that to work.
  • Allow students to keep their exams and then wonder why your exams are “out there.”
  • Confuse sloppy authorship with plagiarism – not all missed citations are an attempt to deceive.
  • Expect students to learn from their mistakes unless someone is facilitating that learning.

“Just like every student has a different learning style, they have different ways in which they respond to different approaches to prevent cheating,” said Bertram Gallant. “At the Center for Academic Integrity we encourage faculty to focus on academic integrity standards and our five fundamental values of honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness and trustworthiness rather than on compliance and control.”