Academic Integrity and Class Participation

By Peter Connor

The beginning of the semester is a great time to address the issue of academic integrity with your students.

Bill Taylor, a professor of Political Science at Oakton Community College in Illinois, did it by writing an open letter to his students, based upon ideas contained in the first draft of "The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity," a project developed at Clemson University's Center for Academic Integrity.

The letter covers a lot of ground, inspiring a number of Teaching Tips that you will find indexed under TILT’s Related Tips in the right-hand column.

In this tip—from Section II of the letter—specific parallels are drawn between the requirements academic integrity imposes on both Taylor, and his students, regarding class participation. As you can see, they are basically the same.

Section II: From Bill Taylor’s "A Letter to My Students"

What Academic Integrity Requires of Me in This Area

With regard to class sessions, the principles of academic integrity require that I take you seriously and treat you with respect.

This requires that I:

  • show up for all class sessions, unless I’m simply unable to do so,
  • come to class on time, and not leave early,
  • not waste class time, but use it well to fulfill the objectives of the course do my best to answer your questions,
  • honestly acknowledge when I don’t have an answer or don’t know something, and then go out and get an answer by the next class,
  • both encourage you, and give you an equal opportunity, to participate in class discussions,
  • contain you if your enthusiasm for participating in the discussions makes it difficult for others to participate,
  • assume that you are prepared for class and that I won’t embarrass you if I call on you, even if your hand isn’t up,
  • respect the views you express and not make fun of you or of them,
  • not allow others to ridicule you or your ideas, or you to do the same to them, and
  • make clear when I am expressing an opinion, and not impose on you my views on controversial issues.

What Academic Integrity Requires of You in This Area

With regard to class sessions, the principles of academic integrity require you to take both me and your fellow students seriously and to treat us with respect.

This requires that you:

  • show up for all class sessions, unless you are simply unable to do so,
  • come to class on time and not leave early,
  • make good use of class time by being engaged in what’s going on,
  • ask questions about anything you don’t understand and not just for your own sake but because other students might not realize that they also don’t understand,
  • participate in the class discussions so as to contribute your thinking to the shared effort to develop understanding and insight (remember that even something that’s clearly wrong can contribute to the discussion by stimulating an idea in another student that s/he might not otherwise have had),
  • monitor your own participation so as to allow for and encourage the participation of others,
  • respect the other students by not making fun of them or their ideas, and by not holding side-conversations that distract them (and me) from the class discussion.

Note: In other sections of this letter (see TILT’s Related Tips) Taylor describes the similarity of the responsibilities both he and his students have relative to class preparation as well as to exams, written assignments, and grading.


Taylor, B. (n.d.). Integrity: Academic and Political - A Letter to My Students. In Academic Integrity Articles. Retrieved January 9, 2009, from the Clemson University Center for Academic Integrity Web site:

Copyright and Permissions:

This Teaching Tip was adapted from "A Letter to My Students," written by William M. Taylor: Political Science Professor—Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, IL.

NOTE: Taylor has granted permission for his letter to be used in any way that is consistent with promoting academic integrity (n.d., p.1).


Peter Connor - TILT Web Content Writer and Editor