Educating Students on Academic Integrity
There is hardly anyone who has not seen national headlines in newspapers about shocking cases of cheating in schools. How can it happen that in the 21st century the students make such stupid mistakes? How can elite schools allow that to happen? What is going on in the system of national education? Don’t the students know about the principles of academic integrity? Is the issue caused by low level of awareness among the students or their improper attitude to academic tasks? It seems to be a minor question, but the answer actually determines which solutions to the problem will be the most effective.
What Is Academic Integrity? Present-Day Culture of Educational Values
For sure, the world has never been perfect. There is so much dishonesty in the present-day life that seeing the violated standards in all the spheres, especially politics and business, it is possible to assume that the area of education cannot be flawless. The issue of dishonesty is huge in all fields, but the schools are taking a lot of effort to develop effective strategies and combat the problem, reducing the rates of cheating.
Actually, academic integrity is what the students and teachers expect from each other in terms of fair treatment, honesty, responsibility, and trust in the academic community. A breach of these principles is referred to as dishonesty or misconduct in academics. Using ThePlagiarism.com, it is really easy to see whether the paper is original.
The numbers are scary! According to the studies, about 95 percent of students say that they have cheated at least once. How do they cheat in high school? Some of them copy the answers from the papers of their friends. Others try to get the exam questions before the big day. Staying at home and pretending to be sick also belongs to kinds of cheating. Still, at present with modern technologies, students use them to steal the content. Plagiarizing has never been so easy to do. It is surprising to know that cheating is typical not only to the students with low level of achievements, but also to those who are in top-10.
Do the students realize that what they do is a violation? It often happens that they say that the only way to survive and be successful was to cheat. They justify their actions with the necessity to match the needs of the present-day society. If everybody tries to lie and cheat, why shouldn’t I? Every student wants to get only excellent grades and they do not want to miss any chance to succeed. The stakes are high; so, cheating may seem to be the only way to make an achievement. However, is it really so?
Why Is Academic Integrity Important? Five Steps to Creating the Right Climate
- Make all academic practices fair and honest
It is effective to launch discussions of integrity issues every time when it is appropriate at school. The best approach is to motivate parents, students, and teachers to cooperate and establish a set of school policies with specific rules, restrictions, and punishments. All of such policies should be consistent and clear. It makes sense to agree on all aspects of ethical behavior and sign a particular agreement between the students, parents, and students. Every time, one has to do quiz, take an exam, or write a paper, one should get a reminder about academic honesty principles.
- Highlight that knowledge is more valuable than high grades
The focus in studies should be not on getting 10 out of 10 in a test. Only if the students realize that their success in the future depends on how well they have mastered the required skills or acquired profound knowledge. With the right motivation, the students see no sense in cheating as it does not make them more professional. The schools that have chosen learning based on project-making and problem-solving generally get higher rates of achievements in studies. Choosing the content to master and the ways to show the results of studies, students get responsibility and control over the process of learning. The likelihood of cheating is lower if the students monitor their learning progress or prepare drafts of their assignments for the review by the professors. When students turn in drafts of papers and projects, they concentrate on mastering skills and on revising according to the precise comments of the instructors.
- Maintain the environment of caring about the students
If a student feels not important, it is not likely that he is oriented at impressing the professors with his achievements. Still, if he knows that a teacher cares about his level of knowledge and sincerely cares about his success, integrity, and professionalism, he will not be inclined to cheat. With the focus on emotional well-being of a student, the school contributes into his competitiveness and makes the cheating rates much lower.
- Keep revising the policies of grading and evaluation
One of the common methods of assessment in schools is taking tests. It is effective, but it makes the level of pressure higher. Luckily, the scope of opportunities for the students to show that they have learnt a lot is wide. A test makes the students stressed-out, while a mixture of projects, essays, reports, presentations, quizzes, tests, and traditional assessment methods may make the level of anxiety in the students lower and reflect students’ skillset and knowledge with more precision. Thus, schools should revise their policies in terms of rankings, scores, lateness fees, and other grading aspects to make them adequate for accurate evaluation.
- Make workload level lower and encourage to learning
Getting sufficient explanation for the relationship between academic integrity and writing, the students still cheat if they are too exhausted to cope with the tasks themselves. The rule of adequate homework for the students without overloading them should be a must for every educational institution. The students should understand the goal of each paper to write. Only acknowledging the benefits of covering the task, the students will be looking for effective means of dealing with the problem. Otherwise, they will be looking for other methods of getting the task done without their individual effort.
Academic dishonesty is increasing not only because the society has a lot of issues to address. Blaming the injustice leads to nothing. What is important to do is to change the attitude to cheating and look for other methods of encouraging students than punishment for cheating, increasing the workload, or making the students’ grades lower. The problem exists and it is a matter of crucial importance to educate the students on academic integrity and ways to be successful.