Speaking with Students About Academic Integrity: Seven Points for USC Teaching Assistants

Talk with your students about academic integrity: honesty in all academic endeavors. Remind them that academic integrity increases not only their learning, but also their pride, the value of their degree and the prestige of a USC education.

  1. Affirm to students the importance of academic integrity.
    Students have a responsibility to demonstrate academic integrity at USC. They should read the student handbook, SCampus, and familiarize themselves with what constitutes academic dishonesty so that they do not inadvertently make a mistake and jeopardize their USC career. Encourage students to talk to you or the professor if they have questions about what is or is not appropriate. It's better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Foster a love of learning.
    TAs should share with their students the importance of learning for the sake of knowledge gain. Encourage conversations about what students are learning and what interests him or her. Speak up and express concern if students mention actions that seem dishonest.
  3. Know the campus resources for academic assistance and share them with students.
    If a particular course is very difficult or students are concerned with academic performance, encourage them to get help. USC has many resources for students seeking academic assistance, such as the Center for Academic Support (213-740-0776) and the Writing Center (213-740-3691).
  4. Encourage students to plan ahead when studying for an exam or writing a paper.
    Students who do not plan ahead may feel that their only option for success is to cheat. Suggest that they start early in planning study times and papers. Inform students that if they are pressed for time due to unforeseen circumstances, they can request an extension on a deadline (when appropriate).
  5. Challenge students to intervene when classmates are not demonstrating academic integrity.
    TAs should challenge students to discourage their friends and classmates from committing academic dishonesty. Sitting next to a friend during a test can put a student in a compromising position. Similar tempting situations should be avoided. Students can provide each other with support and information and present themselves as a positive example.
  6. Explain to your students that plagiarism, cheating, unauthorized collaboration, and falsifying academic records are all forms of academic dishonesty.
    Students who use someone else's work without acknowledging that person appropriately, resubmit their own work without approval, cheat, share homework without approval, or alter or misrepresent university records are demonstrating academic dishonesty. TAs should discuss these issues with students and notify them that the penalties for academic dishonesty are severe.
  7. Discuss the consequences.
    Cheating of any form is not condoned at USC. TAs should make it clear that they do not condone academic dishonesty and should reinforce its consequences. In addition to a low grade, students may face dismissal, revocation of admission or degree, or university suspension or expulsion. Such information should be mentioned in the course syllabus.

Adapted from "Eight Points for Parents: Speaking with Students About Academic Integrity," USC Office for Parent Programs. Acknowledgements: "Trojan Integrity: Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism? and ?Guide to Understanding and Avoiding Academic Dishonesty" by the USC Office for Student Conduct; Ten Principles of Academic Integrity by Donald L. McCabe and Gary Pavela, College Administration Publications, Inc.

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