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Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the responsibility of both faculty and students at Purdue University. University students feel a lot of pressure to do well in their courses. Unfortunately, feelings of desperation and frustration can lead students to engage in cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty. In addition to knowing how to respond to incidents of academic dishonesty in a fair and professional manner, faculty should also know what can be done to prevent academic dishonesty. A number of actions can be taken both inside and outside the classroom to create and promote a climate of academic integrity, as well as to deal with instances of dishonesty.


  • Cizek, G.J. (1999). Cheating on tests: How to do it, detect it, and prevent it. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Corbett, B. (1999). The cheater's handbook: The naughty student's handbook. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Davis, B.G. (2001). Preventing academic dishonesty. In Tools for teaching (pp. 299-311). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Johnson, P. (2005). Cheating: Are we part of the problem? The Teaching Professor, 19(4).
  • McKeachie, W.J. (2006). What to do about cheating. In Teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (12th ed.) (pp. 113-122). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Faculty and Staff Handbook. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University. http://www.purdue.edu/faculty_staff_handbook/
  • Sterngold, A. (2004) Confronting plagiarism: How conventional teaching invites cyber-cheating. Change, May/June.
  • University Regulations. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University. http://www.purdue.edu/univregs/


Words of Wisdom

  • What are suggested dos and don'ts for enforcing academic integrity?
    • Dos
      • Try to design your course to prevent cheating.
      • Provide your definition of academic integrity in the course syllabus. Define what you consider to be acceptable levels collaboration, teamwork and independent work.
      • Discuss academic integrity and your expectations in your first week of class.
      • Consult the Dean of Students if you have questions prior to making an decision regarding a case of dishonesty.
      • Understand that what you choose to do grade- and course-wise is independent of what the Dean of Students may decide to do with disciplinary action.
      • Document all aspects of a dishonesty case, as a student may appeal both your course decision and the Dean of Student's disciplinary action.
      • Contact CIE for help proctoring exams.
    • Don'ts
      • Do not ignore cases of academic dishonesty. Challenge it when it occurs.
      • Do not tell the students what the Dean of Students decides on cases of academic dishonesty. They view each case independently.
      • Do not share information regarding a student's case to other students, or even their parents. This is a breach of their right to privacy.
  • How Do Students Cheat?
    Students can be very creative in the ways that they cheat. They often spend more time planning to cheat than they would have spent studying for the exam or doing the assignment in an honest manner. The following is a list, although not exhaustive, of some of the ways students have been known to cheat in college.
    • Assignments
      • Collaborating on an assignment or take home exam when the instructor does not allow collaboration.
      • Buying or downloading a paper from an Internet site and turning it in as original work.
      • Submitting someone else's paper as their own.
      • Submitting a paper that they have already written and used for another class.
    • Exams
      • Copying off another student's paper during an exam.
      • Using crib sheets or notes during exams. Students may also write material on places such as a cast, body parts (arms, hands, etc.), the insides of hats, calculators, clothing (shirts, jeans, shoes, belts, ties), the insides of mirrored glasses, book bags or backpacks, the desk, water bottle labels, or a tissue.
      • Programming information into calculators, watches, cell phones or electronic planners that can be accessed during exams.
      • Saving material on their hard drive, obtaining information from a website, or using email to exchange information with a classmate during an exam or quiz.
      • Using signals such as coughing, sneezing, throat clearing and body positions to exchange answers with a classmate.
      • Bringing their own blue books that contain material that helps them cheat or, in cases where questions were handed out beforehand, the answers to the questions.
      • Having a friend stand in the hall and send the answers to them through their pager after the instructor posts the answers to an exam in the hall.
      • Hiding notes or other materials in the bathroom and asking to be excused to use the bathroom during the exam.
      • Taking the exam home with them, completing it later, and then accusing the instructor of forgetting to grade their exam.
      • Acquiring a copy of the exam or quiz before it is administered. The exam may have been taken from a previous testing session or stolen from the instructor's office or computer hard drive.
      • Resubmitting an exam, quiz or assignment for a re-grade after they have altered a previously wrong answer or written an answer to a question they did not answer the first time they turned it in.
      • Hiring someone else to take the exam or the entire course.
      • Wearing portable headphones that have recordings of material that can be used on the exam.
  • How Can Academic Integrity Be Promoted on Campus?
    • In General:
      In your course syllabus, clearly state what you define as breaches of academic integrity (e.g., cheating, plagiarism and collaboration on homework). Include consequences and penalties that will be imposed for the behaviors. On the first day of class, talk your students through your syllabus, paying special attention to your expectations about honest and ethical behaviors. You may want to give your students a quiz on the syllabus. This encourages them to read it. Restate your policies regarding cheating prior to each assignment and exam. This will refresh their memories and inform students who may have missed the first day of class. Below are further suggestions to promote academic integrity.
      • Be professional and honest in your dealings with your students. Students sense more justification to cheat when they feel a faculty member is "cheating" on them.
      • Consult the code of ethics for your discipline/profession and use it as a guide for your professional behavior.
      • Make every effort to get to know your students. When students feel a part of the University and have a commitment to your class, they report they are less inclined to cheat.
      • Keep complete course records, e.g., attendance and completion of assigned but non-graded works. Besides being good practice, you may need these records to verify a potential charge of academic dishonesty.
      • Provide many opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of the material in your course, rather than having just one or two exams or large assignments. This often reduces the pressure a student feels about the exam or assignment, thereby reducing the likelihood of cheating.
      • Learn how to design fair and valid exams and assignments and how to assign grades in a fair and impartial manner.
      • Use red or green ink when grading papers. It is difficult for students to match and reduces the likelihood that they will try to alter anything you have written on the exam. Draw several lines through a wrong answer and through the space where an answer should have been written if no answer was provided.
    • Things you can do to deter cheating:
      • Avoid testing over trivial material and making your exams too difficult. Students may cheat out of frustration.
      • Hold review sessions, provide old exams, practice exams, study guides and/or advice on how to study.
      • Tell your students about workshops and services on campus that focus on test-taking skills.
      • Use a new exam each semester.
      • Design your exams so that they discourage cheating by providing two different forms of the same exam and/or jumbling the questions or the distracter items.
      • Provide a paper or assignment that illustrates the content, structure and documentation style that you require for the assignment.
      • Establish checkpoints throughout the semester for papers or large projects, requiring submission of references and drafts. This discourages students from waiting until the last minute to start the assignment, reducing the risk of cheating out of desperation.
      • Familiarize yourself with the essay mills on the Internet. Talk with your students about your familiarity with these outlets, and inform them of your policy regarding plagiarism.
      • Utilize the Internet sites and services that help instructors detect plagiarism.
      • Ask your students to turn in copies of their sources with the material they used highlighted. This allows you to detect plagiarized material more quickly than when you have to locate the source and the material on your own.
  • How Should Cheating Be Dealt With Once It Has Been Detected?
    • Be absolutely certain you have witnessed cheating before you make charges. Guessing is capricious and not professional.
    • Ask a peer to verify what you observed, if possible.
    • Collect evidence that the student was cheating (i.e., you can ask them to give you their crib notes). Do not force the student to give up their notes.
    • When you observe cheating, write down exactly what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. When appropriate, refer to and/or match the happening with your records.
    • Discuss your suspicions with the student when you can be alone together. Give the student the chance to explain him/herself. All students have the right to due process.
    • Know your options when dealing with a cheating incident. You may decide to assign a lower or failing grade for the exam or assignment, fail them in the course, or allow them to complete an alternative assignment or exam.
    • If the incident is significant and cannot be dealt with in one meeting between you and the student, report the incident to the Office of the Dean of Students.
    • If you have any questions about how to deal with the incident, but would like the incident to remain "off the record," you can still call the Office of the Dean of Students.
    • If you successfully deal with the incident by meeting with the student, you can still report the incident to the Office of the Dean of Students. A note will be placed in the student's file, allowing the Office of the Dean of Students to identify students who repeatedly cheat in other classes.