Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

Academic Misconduct

students taking a testAcademic misconduct at KU is defined in the University Senate Rules and Regulations, as are sanctions that may be imposed upon a student or instructor. The Senate Rules and Regulations also specify that “Every instructor shall make clear, at the beginning of each course, his or her rules for the preparation of classroom assignments, collateral reading, notebooks, or other outside work, in order that his or her students may not, through ignorance, subject themselves to the charge of academic misconduct.”

Promoting academic integrity
McKeachie (2002) suggests several ways that teachers can promote academic honesty:

  • Reduce the pressure, by providing several opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning, rather than giving only one or two exams. Keep students informed of their progress throughout the semester.
  • Make reasonable demands and write reasonable and interesting tests. If students are frustrated and become desperate with an assignment that’s too long or a test that focuses on the trivial, they may be more tempted to cheat.
  • Develop group norms that support honesty. Even discussing academic honesty in class helps students recognize its value. Preserve each student’s sense that he or she is an individual with a personal relationship with the instructor and other students. Dishonesty is less likely to occur if students feel that teachers and other students know them, as opposed to if they feel alienated and anonymous.
  • When you’re giving a test, if a student has wandering eyes, ask the student to move to a different seat where he or she will be less crowded. McKeachie writes, “If he says he’s not crowded, I simply whisper that I’d prefer that he move. So far no one’s refused” (2002).

Student writing
To reduce plagiarism, Walvoord and Anderson (1998) suggest intervening early: If you see a proposal, outline or draft of a paper, it’s much harder for a student to purchase or copy someone else’s work at the last minute. This is also recommended so that students receive early direction, as opposed to finding out that they’ve spent many hours on a flawed work. This forces students not to procrastinate until the last moment, as well. Finally, taking time to check a draft helps you reach students during a teachable moment—when they can still do something to improve their work—rather than doing an autopsy on a final paper. It will also save you time at the end of the semester; because students have already received feedback on previous drafts, you won’t need to make extensive comments on the final draft.

Two of the best ways to be prepared for an occurrence of plagiarism is to have a clear policy in the syllabus and to know your department’s plagiarism rules and regulations. For more general information, see the Writing Center’s Academic Integrity Guidelines or its list of plagiarism resources and the Ombuds Office web site


McKeachie, W.J. (2002). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers (11th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Walvoord, B. & Anderson, V.J. (1998) Effective Grading. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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