It’s important for issues of academic integrity to be properly dealt with on every college campus. But how and why students cheat is rarely a black and white matter. As increasing academic pressures and access to technology change the landscape of academic integrity, students and faculty must learn to address these issues and uphold academic standards.
“I believe, for the most part, students don’t come to college intending to cheat,” says James Black, director of the Center for Academic Achievement at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. “More often than not, they get overwhelmed and panic.”
There are many behaviors that constitute cheating and reasons why students cheat—paying someone to write a paper for them or sharing discussion posts across courses, for example. But you can help prevent academic integrity violations through helping students with tangible tactics, such as better time management and encouraging the use of school resources (e.g., the Ashford Writing Center or Ashford Library) to help them prepare.
How to help students not feel pressured to cheat
Most students who cheat don’t set out with the intent to be dishonest—instead, they find themselves in a situation where cheating seems like the best or only option. “Often, students who cheat haven’t set aside enough time to complete a paper, start researching online at 2 a.m., and find themselves copying and pasting material to cobble together a paper,” says Jessica Waters, dean of undergraduate education at American University in Washington, DC. “This is a recipe for disaster.”
One of the best ways students can keep themselves out of a situation where they’re tempted to cheat is by practicing better time management. Here’s how to help make sure they don’t get to a point of despair.
Encourage them to compare syllabi.
This way, they can flag any due dates that fall close to other obligations, which can help them prepare as early as possible.
Give them a time frame for how long an assignment could take.
When it comes to papers (even the short ones), it’s important that students “set aside enough time to thoroughly research, write it carefully, and then have time to check that [they] have properly attributed and cited any outside resources,” says Waters.
Hold extra help sessions.
If students do find themselves in trouble, encourage them to ask for help by setting up virtual office hours or contacting you directly to come up with a plan.
For more information about these topics, as well as your school’s honor code, consult your dean’s office, writing lab, or peer tutoring program.
James Black, director, the Center of Academic Achievement, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.
David Rettinger, executive director, the Center for Honor, Leadership, and Service, and associate professor of psychology, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Jessica Waters, dean of undergraduate students, American University, Washington DC.
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