Like all aspects of teaching, accusations of academic dishonesty do not occur in a vacuum and are vulnerable to distortions of implicit bias and systems that inequitably penalize people along racial, gender, and other socially significant lines. Shaun Harper and Charles Davis III counsel faculty invested in reducing racism in their classrooms not to be “surprised when a black male writes well.” (Harper & Davis 2016) Reporting on the disproportionate rates of international students who face academic dishonesty charges, as well as first-person testimonies on the pain of being unjustly accused of academic dishonesty (like that of Tiffany Martínez, who found the comment, “this is not your word,” next to her use of “hence” in a literature review), are a reminder to actively strive to be equity-inflected when responding to potential instances of academic dishonesty.
There are strategies that can help protect against bias in teaching and grading, such as:
- Practicing blind grading
- Making evaluation criteria specific by using rubrics or models
- Grading all responses to one question before moving on to the next to maximize consistency across answers
- Getting to know students personally
- Communicating transparently with students about what behaviors constitute academic dishonesty on any given assignment
While none of these strategies can guarantee the erasure of bias from teaching and learning environments, utilizing these strategies can reduce the effects of bias and increase instructor self-awareness. The CTE is always available to confidentially consult on equity-inflected teaching practices in any area of teaching; to set up an appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org.