Practical Tips

The following information is not provided by the Honor Council and is not part of the Luther College policy on Academic Integrity, but rather is a collection of some practical tips. You may use, adapt and share all information without permission or attribution. 

1. Papers and homework as original work

In the past, the Honor Code Review Board did not automatically consider a paper that had been submitted in two different classes a violation of the Honor Code. In order to make clear to student that they have to write a new paper or essay, please include in your syllabus or your assignment description that original work is required (e.g. Assignment #2 is an original paper on…).

2. Test materials from publishers / test and assignment collections

If you are using test material that is provided by a publisher, be aware that all of those materials are available online, either for free or for purchase, even if you use the latest edition. There is a worldwide market for these materials and it cannot be assumed that students do not have access to Instructors Manuals or test banks. Also, if you are handing back tests to students, please be aware that those are collected and exchanged by students. While the Honor Council does consider the use of an Instructor’s Manual or previous tests a violation of the Honor Code, this is usually very difficult to prove.

3. Cheating during tests

While in the past the Faculty Handbook suggested that instructors should not be in the classroom during tests as a sign of trust in the honesty of the students, this is no longer part of the handbook language. Each instructor may decide whether to leave the room or remain there during tests.

Cheating during tests is very difficult for the Honor Council to investigate. When students report a possible case of cheating, it often comes down to “s/he said – s/he said”. Therefore, it is better to create a testing environment that makes cheating more unlikely.

This is also beneficial and important for all students who do not cheat, because they have not to worry about what to do when they see something suspicious (which can be very distracting for them), and they do not have to be afraid that someone might use their answers.

Here are some ways to create a testing environment that is more conducive to academic integrity:

  • There should be room between students while taking the test.
  • Students should leave all backpacks and articles of clothing (jackets, etc.) in the front of the room. They should not have books, papers, or backpacks next to or under the table. They should not put articles of clothing over their chairs, on their laps, or on the table. They should not have anything but writing utensils on the table (also excluding any pencil cases).
  • Some colleagues make a new seating arrangement for each major test. Sometimes, they seat students of similar academic level next to each other.
  • Students should not be allowed to leave the room with the test or a cellphone. They should switch off and put their cellphones in their backpacks or put them on the table in the front of the room. It could be part of the course policy that the use of a cellphone at any time during a test can automatically exclude a student from a test.
  • Tests should be deposited into a closed or locked box once students are done (if the instructor is not present).
  • It is recommended to have different tests if students cannot spread out in your test location, or to use more open answer questions. If instructors do not want to write two completely different tests, it may be enough to have two tests with the questions (and in multiple-choice test: the answers) in a different sequence.
  • When using multiple-choice questions, it is recommended to have questions that allow for more than one right answer and to have questions for which no correct answer is provided. Most test banks do not have these options, thus, changing a test from an Instructor’s Manual in this way will help avoid violations of academic integrity.

4. Collaboration on homework and other assignments

There have been several cases where students claimed that they were unclear about what was allowed and what not when it comes to group work and homework. There are good reasons for this confusion, mainly because the rules are very different from one class to the next.

However, there is also conceptual confusion: It is not always clear to student what the pedagogical purposes of group work and homework assignments are. The more they see them as “busy work” and not really contributing to learning, the more they feel it is permissible to “cut corners”.

Also, there is a strong feeling within the student body that collaboration and sharing are important skills, that solving problems together is more necessary in the 21st century than working on assignments on your own, that it is a “waste of time” to answer questions that have been answered a million times before. While this could be dismissed as a cheap excuse, research suggests that the overall attitude of students towards grades and assignments is changing. Therefore, it might be helpful to explain the purpose and goals of an assignment.

In the attached documents, you can find terminology that might help clarify the level of collaboration that is allowed for assignments.

5. Paraphrasing and referencing

Students up to their senior year demonstrate misperceptions about what it means to paraphrase and what sort of information must be referenced. While many instructors feel that students should have learned these things in school or at least in the first-year Paideia courses, this does not always seem to be the case.

As the Faculty Handbook suggests that “faculty members should have at least one discussion in each course about academic integrity and how it applies to the course” (509.2.1), it might be helpful to remind students again about these issues. Here is additional information you can use: