Teaching Strategies

Honor Pledges

Another way that faculty can help to shift the culture around academic integrity is by highlighting its importance. Some faculty pursue this goal by taking the time to draw students’ attention to academic integrity at the start of assignments. There is also evidence that students are less likely to knowingly engage in academic dishonesty if they are primed with an honor pledge prior to completing or submitting the assignment. [13] Asking students to hand write and sign the pledge (either as they begin a test or turn in an assignment) can be an especially effective form of priming. This method is attractive to some because it can illustrate that students and instructors share responsibility for academic integrity. There are a few different iterations of the code in use at other universities:

  • “I recognize the importance of personal integrity in all aspects of life and work. I commit myself to truthfulness, honor and responsibility, by which I earn the respect of others. I support the development of good character and commit myself to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity as an important aspect of personal integrity. My commitment obliges me to conduct myself according to the [Boston College Academic Integrity Policy].” (Marquette University)
  • “I will not give or receive aid on this examination.  This includes discussing the exam with students who have not yet taken it.  I understand that if I am aware of cheating on this examination, I have an obligation to inform Professor [Last Name].  I also understand that Professor [Last Name] will follow [Boston College’s Academic Integrity Policy] if he/she detects acts of academic dishonesty.” (University of Notre Dame)
  • “I understand and will uphold the ideals of academic honesty as stated in the [Boston College Academic Integrity Policy].” (Loyola University Maryland)
  • “I affirm that I will not give or receive any unauthorized help on this exam, and that all work will be my own.” (University of Rochester
  • “On my honor as a member of the [BC] community, I pledge that I have not received or given any unauthorized assistance of this [exam, assignment, academic work].” (Colorado State University)
  • “I affirm that I have upheld the highest principles of honesty and integrity in my academic work and have not witnessed a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy.” (Gettysburg College
  • The University of Delaware asked students to develop honor pledge language as part of an academic integrity seminar.

While some faculty have embraced this model, others worry that utilizing an honor code may stoke a sense of distrust and surveillance between students and faculty. Those faculty who are skeptical of honor pledges often focus their efforts on reinforcing positive relationships with their students and developing feedback mechanisms that help students recognize their ability to do the work of the class. Other faculty follow James Lang’s earlier suggestion and engage in robust conversation about what academic integrity is and why it is important without asking students to sign a pledge. Whatever faculty choose, normalizing academic integrity in the class culture is one of several interventions that can minimize academic dishonesty. 

[13] Dan Ariely, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, 31-54.