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Tips for Preventing Academic Misconduct

In general, UW students want to do the right thing when it comes to their academics! Students report that they are most successful in doing their work properly when instructors provide clear, detailed expectations about how they want students to learn.

Academic misconduct is best prevented up front with clear guidelines. Your syllabus is a great tool to use as it serves as your class policy statement. You are encouraged to write a policy statement in your syllabus about your expectations regarding plagiarism, cheating, and unauthorized collaboration. Additionally, you should remind students before the first assignment about your expectations regarding academic integrity and let students know what the consequences are of engaging in academic misconduct.

General Tips

  1. Regularly remind students of the academic misconduct section in the Student Conduct Code, in class and in your syllabus
  2. Explain how the Code applies to your specific course regarding cheating, falsification, and/or plagiarism, and advise students of the consequences of academic misconduct
    • Remember that some pieces of the code need additional instructions to understand how they apply to an assignment. Specifically, unauthorized assistance, unauthorized collaboration, and prohibited behavior are based on the expectations set for that assignment or that class.
    • For example, it is never appropriate for students to plagiarize but there are assignments where they can work with others, please indicate where that isn’t permitted for an assignment.
  3. Students may participate in academic misconduct because they are doing poorly in  class
    • Explain to students that you are willing and available to discuss academic concerns with them
    • Regularly encourage students to go to office hours or to schedule a time to meet with you
  4. Students engaging in academic misconduct are often struggling in other areas of their lives, which makes it difficult for them to spend as much time on their academics as they would like. We find that in general, students want to do their work honestly.
  5. Identify common pitfalls for students in advance. If you have an assignment that regularly produces concerns of misconduct, alert your students and provide them with additional  guidance regarding how you would like them to complete the assignment

The following guidance is provided by the UW Center for Teaching and Learning 

Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT

Many instructors are already integrating AI into their teaching. Others would prefer that students not use AI to complete assignments. Because AI tools are constantly evolving, it is very difficult to develop technology that can reliably identify when a student uses AI to complete an assignment. Thus, a policing approach to student use of AI has the potential to be both time-consuming and unsuccessful. Instead, it is important to help students understand the issues associated with AI and its relationship to learning in general and your class in particular.

The following strategies can help instructors think about how to communicate with students, set expectations, and design assignments that increase students’ motivation to develop their own skills and ideas.

  • Set expectations – Establish a policy for your course around the use of AI-based tools (e.g., ChatGPT) and communicate this with students through the syllabus and/or assignment prompts. Discuss how you will proceed if you discover that a student has turned in AI-generated work. Here are some sample syllabus statements you can use or adapt to help articulate your expectations for student use of AI in your course.
  • Communicate the importance of college learning – Many students are focused only on learning that seems related to their intended career track. However, the vast majority of them will change careers at least once in their lives. Talk with students about how the relevance of your course may only become apparent years from now. The skills they are learning will likely transfer to other careers – even careers that do not yet exist!
  • Acknowledge that struggle is part of learning –  Talk with students about how intellectual struggle is an inherent part of learning. Learning happens only when we move outside what we already know. Seeking a shortcut or workaround through AI tools only prevents them from learning. The short-term consequence is that they pay for a benefit they never receive. The long-term consequence is that they miss the opportunity to become better, more effective thinkers, writers, researchers, and creators.
  • Discuss the social, ethical, and practical issues surrounding AI – The processes that support the development and functionality of AI-based tools raise issues related to privacy, disinformation, environmental impact, bias, exploitation, and academic integrity, among other things. In addition, although AI-generated output appears authoritative and factual, it is frequently riddled with inaccuracy. Discussing the ethical and social concerns related to AI with students can help them see the social context of AI and can position them to make thoughtful decisions about their own use of AI-based tools.
  • Assess process as much as (or more than) product – Lowering the stakes of individual assignments reduces students’ motivation for cheating and encourages them to build their own skills and competencies. Low- or no-stakes formative assessments reinforce the notion that learning is a process and demonstrates to students that what’s valuable is the learning, not the grade.
  • Design assignments that ask students to connect course content, class discussion, and lived experience. It’s harder for AI-based tools to effectively connect the dots between these sources of knowledge.
  • Consider teaching through AI-based tools. Think about how using AI-based tools might facilitate students’ learning and prepare them to thoughtfully engage these tools in their personal and professional lives. How can students use AI-generated output to think critically and analytically? How can these tools help them ask questions about digital literacy and information accuracy? Further down this page we’ve provided some examples of how to integrate AI into assignments.

Teaching with AI

Below are some examples of how instructors might use AI to facilitate learning. Many of these examples familiarize students with AI-based tools, but also prompt critical examination of their value, accuracy, strengths, and shortcomings.

Note: This list is a work in progress. If you are using AI in your own teaching and would like to share what you’re doing on this page, we invite you to complete this form.

  • Think-pair-AI-share. Students think (as individuals) about a question/concept, then pair up with a peer to discuss. The pair then plugs the question/concept into an AI tool (e.g., ChatGPT, GPT4, Bing Chat) and discusses or analyzes the output.(1)
  • Evaluating AI output. Co-develop a rubric with students that describes the components of an effective essay, lab report, précis, technical manual, blog post, etc. Students prompt an AI tool to generate three versions of the assignment on a given topic and then use the rubric to evaluate the quality of the AI-generated versions.(2)
  • Improving upon/adapting AI-generated output. Students use an AI tool to draft text or code in response to a prompt. Students must then improve upon the AI-generated output. When students turn in their assignment, they must include both the AI-generated text and their improved version.(3)
  • Explaining the steps in an AI-generated solution. Students use AI to solve a math problem. Working from the AI-generated solution, they then work in groups to explain or analyze the steps that the AI tool used to arrive at the solution.(4)
  • Visualizing concepts with AI. Students select a concept covered in lecture or course readings. Students then prompt an Al image generator to create an image that represents the connection between the concept and daily life. They must then explain how the Al-generated image conveys the concept and its relationship to daily life. Students might also analyze the strengths and shortcomings of AI image generators.(5)
  • Exploring AI in your field. Students explore current applications of AI in the discipline of the course or in their major. Within the context of the discipline (or their major), students examine both AI’s advantages and limitations.(6)
  1. Adapted from Finley-Croswhite, 2023 and Wong, 2023.
  2. Adapted from Michael McCreary, Goucher College.
  3. Adapted from assignments created by Andrea Otañez, UW Communications; Carly Gray, UW Psychology; Richard Ross, University of Virginia; and materials in Laquintano, et al, 2023.
  4. Adapted from Finley-Croswhite, 2023.
  5. Adapted from an assignment created by Christine Savolainen, UW Biology.
  6. Adapted from UW Bothell, Office of Student Academic Success.

In-class Exams

  1. Share with students in advance the methods you are taking to prevent academic misconduct during exams – this information may help deter students from engaging in academic misconduct
  2. Include academic integrity expectations and course policies on the first page of the exam if applicable.
  3. Clearly explain to students what your expectations are regarding academic integrity before the exam starts and ensure they understand
  4. Give oral and written instructions concerning material allowed or not allowed during the exam at the beginning of the exam period
  5. If using blue books for exams, collect all of them and randomly redistribute them to the class. Additionally, be sure to collect all blue books, whether used or not, at the end of the exam
  6. Use alternating copies of exams with different colors and questions in different orders
  7. Vary the multiple choice order on the different exams, and consider using different values for different versions of the test
  8. For classes in auditorium-style rooms, think about alternating the test versions by row to ensure students cannot cheat off a student in the row in front of them
  9. Randomize seating in order to avoid students who know each other sitting together or have students fill out a seating chart that you can reference if you suspect academic misconduct
  10. Encourage students to sit apart from their friends and study partners during exams.
  11. Train your TAs how to be effective proctors – encourage them to regularly walk around the room observing students instead of doing other work or reading
  12. If a student needs to leave the room, collect their exam materials while the student is out of the room
  13. After the exam, mark the answer sheets in a way where responses cannot be changed and allows you to see if there have been alterations if a student brings up a concern about grading
  14. Scan a copy of the exam before returning it to students
  15. Give an alternate version of the exam for students you allow to make up the test
  16. For in-class Canvas exams, identify appropriate settings and ensure students understand what materials are permitted during the exam period.

Homework Assignments

  1. Since collected homework can never be fully screened for copying, it may be more effective to put greater effort into preventing cheating on in-class exams and quizzes which can be closely monitored or in final projects
  2. Limit grades for collected homework to no more than 10% of the total course grade, except in courses where regular practice is deemed essential and which cannot be replaced by in-class quizzes or exams
  3. Replace the balance of customary homework assignment grades (traditionally, 25-30% of the course grade had been typical) with a second midterm or in-class quizzes closely based on homework assignments
  4. Rotate homework assignments so that no two similar assignments are used in back-to-back years
  5. Use different versions of the assignment for each course section
  6. Explain clearly what level of collaboration is acceptable
  7. Consider “flipping the classroom” by exposing students to the content before coming to class and using class time to work on practice problems or higher-order learning.

Written Assignments

  1. Identify prompts and topics that are specific to class discussion and the course materials so students can demonstrate their understanding of the material.
  2. Ask for a tentative bibliography and outline in advance of the deadline.
  3. Have students complete in-class writing assignments to help establish a student’s voice and writing style
  4. Think critically about the assignments you are creating. As technology advances, pinpoint the areas within your discipline that cannot be automated or AI-generated.
  5. Clearly explain your expectations for writing styles for written assignments. For example, if students need to complete an essay using APA style, explain what your expectations are using that style of writing and how essays will be graded.
  6. Each student has a different educational background and experience. Provide resources for your students to seek writing help related to your expectations.

Poll Everywhere and Clickers

  1. Emphasize to students your expectations about academic integrity related to the use of clickers or Poll Everywhere
  2. Clearly define these expectations in class and in your syllabus
  3. Consider using time limits for your questions to reduce the chances that a student has time to use another student’s clicker or contact a friend who is not in class with the question and/or answer
  4. Ask a question that can only be answered correctly if the student is in class (what color shirt is a particular TA wearing?)

Final Projects

  1. Vary final project list so that no two similar projects are assigned in back-to-back years
  2. Randomize project assignments, so friends or cliques are not assigned the same projects
  3. Require students to include a signed statement in their report stating that the project report represents their own work and includes complete citations to all references or sources of help, including other students or work colleagues
  4. Reconsider allowing students to use a project that they propose instead of one on your project list (they could be attempting to recycle a work project or a project from another course)
  5. However, if you approve of a student using their own topic, meet with the student and talk about the topic to get a sense of the student’s understanding of the topic
  6. Explain clearly what level of collaboration is acceptable, keeping in mind that students must submit individual reports and are graded individually
  7. If a student wants to continue work from a previous class, consult with the student and develop clear expectations regarding the assignment
  8. To verify the student is expanding on the topic, have the student turn in their old assignment before they start the project to verify the additional work they completed
  9. The Student Conduct Code states, “Multiple submissions of the same work in separate courses without the express permission of the instructor(s)” is a violation