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Cornell University

Academic Integrity

Why do students violate the academic integrity code?
Why does course design matter?
How can you design your course to promote academic integrity?

"A Cornell student's submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student's own. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, and the student's academic position truthfully reported at all times."
-Office of the University Faculty, Code of Academic Integrity, 2006

Why do students violate the academic integrity code?

Students violate the academic code for a variety of reasons:

  • They lack confidence in their ability to do well in a course.
  • They are not clear about how to incorporate others’ ideas and words in their own work.  
  • They are under immense time pressure.
  • It is easier than doing the work themselves.
  • It seems acceptable—everyone else is doing it.
  • Course design and assessment schema emphasizes grades over learning experiences.

Why does course design matter?

The way a course is designed can influence students’:

  • Confidence to do well in the course.
  • Ability to cheat easily.
  • Sense of integrity.
  • Level of understanding of academic code violations and the related consequences.
  • Ability to synthesize the work of others in their own work.
  • Comfort in asking questions about academic integrity.
  • Approach to assignments; students may see assignments as only contributing to their grade as opposed to authentic learning experiences.

How can you design your course to promote academic integrity?

Meizlish (2005, p.3-6) suggests the following techniques to promote academic integrity:

  • Include an academic integrity statement in your syllabus and provide a space in class to discuss expectations and to address any questions students may have.
  • Encourage questions and honest dialogue by acknowledging that issues of academic integrity can be confusing, even for professionals.
  • Break down larger assignments into smaller, manageable chunks.
  • Ensure that students have opportunities to practice skills, develop knowledge, and receive some feedback on their performance before giving high stakes assignments or tests.
  • Work with Cornell library services to help students develop information literacy.
  • If you choose to use a plagiarism detection tool such as, explain how it works, how students can use it to monitor their own work, and how you will use it to check for plagiarism.
  • Use (and rotate) authentic questions in your assignments; for example, connect assignments to current events.
  • Create original projects and/or papers that require multiple revisions.

Cornell’s University's Faculty Academic Integrity web page.


Visit Cornell's web page on Academic Integrity.

Explore Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences online quiz on recognizing and avoiding plagiarism. Share it with your students.

View Academic Technology's web page on Turnitin plagiarism detecting software that can be used by both students and instructors.

CTI Academic Integrity pdf (CU NetID required to access. Link redirects to login page.)

Past CTI Presentation Materials


Blum, S. D.  (2009).  My word! Plagiarism and college culture.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Frick, T. (2004). Understanding Plagiarism. Retrieved from:

Houtman, A. & Walker, S. (2010). Decreasing plagiarism: What works and what doesn’t . Journal on Excellence in
College Teaching, 21(1), 51-71.

Meizlish, D.  (2005).  Promoting academic integrity in the classroom.  University of Michigan CRLT Occasional Papers, 20.  Retrieved from

Office of the University Faculty.  (2006).  Code of Academic Integrity.  Cornell University.  Retrieved from

Twomey, T., Sagendorf, K., & White, H. (Eds.).  (2009).  Pedagogy, not policing: Positive approaches to academic integrity and the university.  Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
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