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Promoting Academic Integrity

Strategies To Promote Academic Integrity*

As a faculty member, one of the easiest things you can do to prevent cheating is to simply tell your students at the beginning of each quarter that you will not tolerate academic dishonesty. Tell them in class and tell them on the syllabus. Tell them cheating hurts everyone and that they should not hesitate to inform you if they witness such an act. There are other ways to prevent cheating: some quite simple, others not. Select the ones that best suit your style.

Students begin UCSB with a clear warning (given at new student orientation) that academic dishonesty is contrary to the spirit of higher education as well as a violation of Campus and University Regulations. It is their responsibility to behave honestly, but we continue to have an abundance of cases year after year. Instructors can promote honesty by not making it easy to cheat.


There are many ways faculty can create an environment that supports academic integrity.

Plagiarism may occur in any class where term papers or other take-home assignments are due.

  • Give specific topics for assignments.
  • Keep copies of past papers.
  • Send for a copy of Research Assistance, a $2 catalogue of term papers for sale (call 800 351-0222 to order or see a copy on file with the Dean of Students).
  • If possible, familiarize yourself with each student's writing ability.
  • Ask for the original copy of the paper; don't accept photocopies.
  • Make it clear whether or not students are allowed to collaborate on take-home assignments.
  • Read all papers on the same topic together.
  • Make your requirements for referencing, footnotes, quotation marks, and bibliography known to class.

Cheating : ("Ringers," returning altered exams for re-grading, in-class copying) can occur in any test situation.

Proctoring exams

  • If space allows, assign alternate seats (sometimes empty adjacent rooms are available - call the Registrar's office for information (x3602).
  • Assign permanent seating; taking roll periodically.
  • Check picture IDs before exams (helpful if class is very large -- and if you have TAs).
  • Give different versions of the exam (simply changing the order of questions is helpful in lengthy objective exams).
  • Make duplicates of random exams to compare with exams returned for regrading and inform class you are doing this (esp. for Science, Engineering, and Math).
  • Collect unmarked bluebooks & Redistribute randomly.
  • Change exam questions periodically.

Detecting Cheating : Most students get caught because they've been careless in their cheating. Here are some things to look for. Possible signs of Plagiarism:

  • An average student hands in a sophisticated and error free paper.
  • Footnotes don't mach the cited text.
  • There isn't a single footnote or quotation mark.
  • Paper topic isn't on something you assigned.
  • Student hands in paper late or asks for an extension on the due date; is the reason valid?
  • Certain passages sound familiar (e.g., They came directly from the text. It happens!).
  • Type face on title page doesn't match type in body of paper (This has happened, too!)
  • Student's paper is a photocopy but the title page is typed.

Possible Signs of Cheating:

  • "Ringers" can be detected by looking for unfamiliar faces at the exam.
  • Student has no ID; doesn't know his/her social security number.
  • Missing pages in a blue book may be a sign.
  • Numerous erasures on an exam returned for regrading (grade alterers often make a habit of this on their exams). 
  • Wandering eyes in an exam room; talking during exam.
  • Papers and notes on floor near desk.
  • Notes may be written under calculators.
  • Identical incorrect answers appear repeatedly on two or more exams.
  • Student leaves room during exam.


Many instructors are hesitant to report incidents of cheating, either because they do not want to be bothered or think only the student who cheated is actually harmed. On the contrary, many individuals, as well as the institution, are harmed by dishonesty. This is an easy point to defend. More problematic is getting professors to report cheating. It is actually quite simple to report an incident. When reporting, the instructor has the choice of handling it him/herself or turning the case over to the Dean of Students for investigation and a formal hearing.

Often, instructors will give a student a failing grade for the assignment in which cheating occurred and report the student to the Dean of Students indicating that no further action be taken, or that the student should be scheduled for a hearing. How far you decide to pursue the case is up to you.

Regarding grades and discipline: At the conclusion of a hearing, the Conduct Committee does not advise instructors on grades. Many instructors, however, will not assign a final grade until the Committee makes its recommendation. You should also be mindful that if you fail a student who you suspect has cheated and the Committee exonerates her/him, this student may ask to be given her/his rightful grade.

Be aware that once a case is reported to the Dean's office for a hearing by the Conduct Committee, the Committee may recommend a sanction more severe than intended by the instructor.

The Student-Faculty Committee on Student Conduct, which hears charges of academic dishonesty, is NOT intended to terrorize students. It is not strictly adversarial, rather it is an educational vehicle through which the University is able to promote the values of integrity and honesty. Cheating is not taken lightly, however, and it is not uncommon for a first-time offender to be suspended from the University for one quarter for committing one act of cheating or plagiarism.

If you decide to handle the matter yourself, please let the Dean of Students Office know the name of the student. The Dean of Students keeps the name for future reference; students are informed of this with the intent of discouraging them from further dishonest behavior. Report forms are available from the Dean of Students Office (x4467).

Details of the student conduct and discipline process are in chapter six of the Campus Regulations Applying to Students, also available from the Dean of Students Office (x4467).

Most students, once they are caught, will confess to the offense and take their punishment. Others are less inclined to be forthright.

How to Report Incidents of Cheating:

1.  Confront the student with your accusation, allow him/her to explain.

2.  If the offense is particularly serious or the student insists on innocence (against the evidence and/or your strong suspicion) report the case to the Office of the Dean of Students.

3.  The Dean of Students will investigate and, if appropriate, set up a meeting with the Student-Faculty Committee on Student Conduct.

4.  A hearing usually takes 30-60 minutes; reporting instructor and/or TA who discovered the alleged deception is asked to attend.

5.  Graduate student TAs are asked to report any incidents to the instructor in charge of the class, who then files the complaint. TAs in charge of their own class (as in the foreign languages) make seek the advice of the department chair.

What Reporting Does:

1.  Allows us to confront the student and, with luck, stop the behavior.

2.  Allows us to record the student's name for future reference and to identify repeat offenders.

3.  Makes the community aware of the problem in general (all cases are strictly confidential; student's privacy is protected). Public reports may be published with the names removed or changed.

4.  Allows us to gauge the depth of the problem

For more information call the
Associate Dean of Students at 893-4467

*Document written by Associate Dean of Students J. Navarro, D. Clark, and D. Halley.

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