Harper College

Preventing Academic Dishonesty

Research indicates that over 1/3 of undergraduate college students admit to plagiarism, and 43% admit to cheating on written assignments or tests. (Source: plagiarism.org) Remember that it is often the high-achieving students who cheat, not necessarily the students at risk of failing your course. Make sure you are consistent in addressing the behavior - regardless of whether you like the student or whether he/she is a "good" student or not.

Efforts can be made to educate students on the academic standards, minimize opportunities for academic dishonesty, and reduce the likelihood that a student will attempt to be dishonest in your course. Many students choose dishonesty because they see it as a shortcut amid all of their other life responsibilities. If they think they can get away with it, they are likely to try it. However, there are some measures you can take to deter it: 

  • Beginning with the first day of class, get to know your students. Use first names. When students feel like you acknowledge them as individuals, they will want to succeed in your course and will be less likely to violate your expectations.
  • Provide clear definitions and expectations in your syllabus, along with examples for violating the standards. Communicate these not only in writing, but through conversation.
  • Spend time discussing citation - some students may have been educated through a cultural lens which approaches paraphrasing and citation differently than in the United States.
  • Provide examples - especially of paraphrasing and incorrectly citing sources.
  • Remind students to record their sources, even in rough drafts.
  • During tests:
    • Switch up the seating. Don't let study buddies or good friends sit next to each other.
    • Walk around and be visible. Pay attention to what the students are doing.
    • Make multiple versions of tests, with the questions in random order. Tell students you are doing this - the goal isn't to catch them cheating, it is to prevent it!
    • Make up new tests each semester.
    • Don't allow temptations - breaks, hats, cell phones, etc.
  • For writing assignments:
    • Get a writing sample at the start of the semester to use as a baseline for the student's writing ability.
    • Give assignments with a personalized topic, or select different topics each semester so students can't purchase old papers.
  • It IS still important to ensure you are accommodating the needs of students who are registered with Access and Disability Services (ADS) and who have provided you with written notice from ADS of the nature of their accommodation(s). Having a disability doesn't give a student a free pass to engage in academic dishonesty or any other kind of conduct that violates rules of the College. If you have concerns about maintaining the integrity of a test or an assignment while honoring an accommodation plan, contact ADS with your questions.
Last Updated: 12/14/23