Academic Integrity and Exams

By Peter Connor

The beginning of the semester is a great time to address the issue of academic integrity with your students. The murky part, of course, is communicating the message effectively.

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, out of which I have created a number of Teaching Tips that you will find indexed under TILT’s Related Tips in the right-hand column.

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

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

What Academic Integrity Requires of Me in This Area

With regard to exams, the principles of academic integrity require that I:

  • do my best during class time to prepare you for the exams,
  • be available during office hours or at arranged times to work with you individually to help you get ready for the exams,
  • develop exam questions that will be a meaningful test not only of the course content, but also of your ability to express and defend intelligent judgments about that content,
  • carefully monitor the exam so that honest students will not be disadvantaged by other students who might choose to cheat if given the opportunity, and
  • give due and careful consideration to your answers when evaluating them and assigning a grade.

What Academic Integrity Requires of You in This Area

With regard to exams, the principles of academic integrity require you to:

  • come to class having done your best to prepare for the exam, including seeking my help if you need it,
  • make full use of the time available to write the best answers you can,
  • accept your limitations and not try to get around them by using cheat sheets, copying, or seeking help from another student,
  • not giving help to other students, or making it easy for them to copy off of you.

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

Sources:

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: http://www.academicintegrity.org/educational_resources/pdf/Letter_To_My_Students.pdf.

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).

Contributors:

Peter Connor - TILT Web Content Writer and Editor