Teaching Strategies

Cultivating Academic Integrity

Instructors often find confronting breaches of academic integrity one of the more challenging and weighty aspects of their work. Any number of factors can contribute to the fraught nature of these interactions: realizing a student violated academic integrity is often personally painful and fractures the trust instructors value and work hard to develop with their students; reporting violations is a point where implicit bias can infect teaching; faculty may worry about the character of graduating students entering the professional world; and faculty may not always completely understand or agree with institutional norms and processes for redressing academic dishonesty. Given that students also often do not completely understand academic integrity expectations, instances of academic dishonesty can be especially thorny and frustrating. 

However, while academic dishonesty is a persistent problem in higher education, it is not a unique problem. As the behavioral economist Dan Ariely has pointed out, most people will participate in low-levels of dishonesty when given the chance. Cheating, Ariely argues, is not rare nor ultimately the result of a simple cost-benefit analysis. Instead, his research suggests that cheating “depends on the structure of our daily environment, and under what conditions we are likely to be more and less dishonest.” [1] While academic dishonesty is deeply troubling, Ariely’s research does support the impetus to revisit educational design decisions – the structures of students’ daily environments – in order to minimize academic dishonesty as well as the surveillance and penalization of students.

Despite the fraught and difficult nature of this teaching challenge, there are steps instructors can take to effectively build a culture of academic integrity in their classrooms and to address academic dishonesty when it occurs. Before considering strategies that can minimize instances of academic dishonesty, the next page will review conceptions of academic dishonesty, highlighting both areas of general consensus and points of controversy and flexibility.


For an overview of the resource and quick links to various subtopics, please see below:

[1] Dan Ariely, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty (New York: Harper, 2013), 8.