Academic Honesty and Integrity
CSU Honor Pledge
The road to the 2011 adoption of a student honor pledge at CSU began as early as 2006, with the Associated Students of Colorado State University* deliberating—through several consecutive administrations—the idea of promoting an honor pledge as way to encourage student academic integrity.
In 2008, then ASCSU President, Katie Gleeson, in her Honors Thesis, “Shaping a Culture of Academic Integrity at Colorado State University”, formally recommended that the University adopt an honor pledge. That led to a bill, authored by Eric Whittington, a Senator from the College of Liberal Arts, supported by the current and past two ASCSU Directors of Academics being introduced into the Senate in November 2009.
The bill was discussed by all Senate subcommittees and returned to the Senate floor in April of 2010, where it passed. The bill was then forwarded to the Faculty Council and University administration.
During the 2010-11 academic year the Faculty Council Committee on Teaching and Learning considered the ASCSU recommendation, holding an open forum on the issue in February, which resulted in several amendments agreed to by a special task force and the Executive Council. On May 3, 2011 the issue came before Faculty Council and passed on a unanimous vote with no amendments.
The amendment to the Faculty and Professional Manual, as passed by the Faculty Council, was then forwarded to the Colorado State University Board of Governors and approved on June 20, 2011. The revised academic integrity section of the Manual can be viewed in its entirety here.
Faculty & Professional Manual: Section I.5
*ASCSU is the elected deliberative body on campus representing all the students enrolled at Colorado State University.
The Honor Pledge can either be handwritten by the student, or printed on tests and other work, and signed by the student. It is each instructor’s decision (or departmental policy) as to which course components. In order to be most effective in reinforcing the value of exercising academic integrity, we recommend that the use of the honor pledge is ongoing throughout the course and not solely an exercise at the beginning. Reminder; not signing the honor pledge will not be considered as evidence that a student has committed academic misconduct. It should be clear that students whose religious tenets prohibit taking oaths will not be expected to sign the pledge.
Before the first time you ask students to use the pledge, you should discuss what it means and why you are asking them to sign it.
For more on this, please see the Creating a Classroom Culture tab.
The pledge can be printed on the top of the exam. A space should be provided for the student’s signature as well as a place for the name to be printed.
University and course academic integrity policies should be included on your course home page. A reminder about the honor pledge can be included in the instructions for online quizzes and exams. Your first question could be the honor pledge with students being able to choose responses such as A = agree, B = Abstain. That item should not be scored; a “zero-points” question.
A separate “quiz” only containing the question about the honor pledge, can be created for use accompanying the submission of other assignments.
Your syllabus should include a copy of the pledge you would like students to include on written work. For papers submitted electronically, your directions could instruct students to type their name after the pledge as a “proxy” for their signature.
If you allow group work, you may also want to ask students to indicate what other students they worked with who contributed to their homework. That practice models avoiding plagiarism.
BLUE BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN WORK
You can write the pledge on the board or exam and ask students to copy it on the first page of their blue book, with their signature. In the future CSU blue books may be pre-printed with the pledge.
Your syllabus should include a copy of the pledge you would like students to include on written work. For papers submitted electronically, your instructions could instruct students to type their name after the pledge as a “proxy” for their signature.
- A discussion of why academic integrity is an important facet of scholarship in your discipline, and to your students’ development as a scholar.
- A discussion of what it means to have a fair and “level playing field” in your class, including maintaining a degree of trust both between students and between the instructor and students.
- A discussion of why academic integrity is important to you personally. You may want to explain the guidelines you follow in your research and professional writing as an example.
DISCUSSING IT OPENLY
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Honor System suggests facilitating a 10 to 30 minute discussion by asking the following open-ended questions:
- What do you think I mean in my syllabus when I refer to “academic integrity”?
- Why do you think I care about academic integrity?
- Do you think that students care about academic integrity?
- How many of you have observed anyone cheating? How did that make you feel?
The discussion of the honor pledge as a reminder of students’ commitment to each other, to following their own values, and their commitment to you will play a significant part in reinforcing a culture of integrity.
The CSU Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual guides all Instructors to address academic integrity on each course syllabus. More information about those requirements is explained in How Should I Address Cheating on My Syllabus.
Sample Honor Pledge Inclusion: SPCM 201 (Fall 2011)
We Take Academic Integrity Seriously
At minimum, academic integrity means that no one will use another’s work as their own. The CSU writing center defines plagiarism this way:
“Plagiarism is the unauthorized or unacknowledged use of another person’s academic or scholarly work. Done on purpose, it is cheating. Done accidentally, it is no less serious. Regardless of how it occurs, plagiarism is a theft of intellectual property and a violation of an ironclad rule demanding ‘credit be given where credit is due.'”
Source: (Writing@CSU Guide: Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism. http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=17. Accessed, January 15, 2009)
Losing Credit for Plagiarism
If you plagiarize in your work you could lose credit for the plagiarized work, fail the assignment, or fail the course. Plagiarism could result in expulsion from the university. Each instance of plagiarism, classroom cheating, and other types of academic dishonesty will be addressed according to the principles published in the CSU General Catalog.
See CSU General Catalog: Academic Integrity/Misconduct).
What Academic Integrity Means
Of course, academic integrity means more than just avoiding plagiarism. It also involves doing your own reading and studying. It includes regular class attendance, careful consideration of all class materials, and engagement with the class and your fellow students.
Academic integrity lies at the core of our common goal: to create an intellectually honest and rigorous community. Because academic integrity, and the personal and social integrity of which academic integrity is an integral part, is so central to our mission as students, teachers, scholars, and citizens, we will ask you to sign the CSU Honor Pledge as part of completing all of our major assignments.
While you will not be required to sign the honor pledge, we will ask each of you to write and sign the following statement on your papers and exams:
“I have not given, received, or used any unauthorized assistance.”
Greg Dickinson, Director of Graduate Studies; Professor, Dept. of Communication Studies
(Dr. Dickinson gives permission for other CSU instructors to use parts or all of this statement in their own syllabi.)
Research shows that the use of an honor pledge does make a difference in both the classroom culture and levels of student cheating at a university. Don McCabe, a professor at Rutgers has surveyed over 180,000 students at many campuses. He found that schools with an honor code (typically including the use of an honor pledge) have lower rates of students who self-report cheating.
For More: See Honesty and Honor Codes.
That is even true at large public universities with a modified honor code system and honor pledge.
Cheating is lower both in terms of the percent of students who have cheated and the frequency of cheating.
For More: See Some Good News About Academic Integrity.
Other research has examined student cheating in an experimental setting. That study showed that student’s “moral engagement” with their own values about personal honesty was higher after reading or signing an honor statement, and the number who cheated on the experimental task was significantly lower.
ENDORSED BY THE FACULTY COUNCIL
The wording of the statement, to be followed by a blank for the student’s signature, endorsed by Faculty Council were:
- Past tense: HONOR PLEDGE: “I have not given, received, or used any unauthorized assistance.”
- Future tense: HONOR PLEDGE: “I will not give, receive, or use any unauthorized assistance.”
Our Faculty Manual informs readers that “Examples of other wordings, including the Honor Pledge endorsed by the Associated Students of Colorado State University” will be maintained on this website.
THE WORDING OF THE 2010 ASCSU ENDORSEMENT WAS:
I pledge on my honor that I have not received or given any unauthorized assistance in this exam [assignment] [academic work].
OTHER POSSIBLE WORDINGS INCLUDE:
- On my honor as a student, I pledge that I have not received or given any unauthorized assistance in this exam [assignment] [academic work].
- On my honor as a member of the CSU community, I pledge that I have not received or given any unauthorized assistance in this exam [assignment] [academic work].
- On my honor as a scholar, I pledge that I have not received or given any unauthorized assistance in this exam [assignment] [academic work].
Whichever is chosen, consistency throughout the course, and perhaps throughout the department, is advised. Having students hand-write the page is believed to be a stronger reinforcement then the signature alone.
“I have not given,
received, or used
any unauthorized assistance.”
Honor Pledge Institutions
Director, Academic Integrity