Process Considerations in Assignment Design/Planning

  • Scaffold the Assignment to minimize student stress and allow multiple opportunities for feedback (self, peer-to-peer, instructor-student).
  • Break the Assignment into Parts and have students self-assess progress and process. This helps to develop students’ academic processes of integrity.
  • Focus on the Process rather than a high-stakes final product to increase intrinsic student effort and motivation. An additional benefit is the products often turn out much better as a result of the focus on process.
  • Foster a Community where students are encouraged to be partners in ensuring the quality, rigor and integrity of all coursework.
  • Reveal the Process of what it means to do “academic work” in your discipline.

7 Suggestions to Promote Academic Integrity via Process

  1. Break Down Assignments. When possible, break larger assignments and projects into sections (e.g. introduction, methodology, annotated bibliography) or multiple rough drafts that can be submitted and feedback offered in stages so students learn the processes involved in research and writing.
  2. Have Students Self-Assess. Have students submit preliminary drafts with a self-assessment of their work. In self-assessments, ask students to identify the main aspects of their draft (e.g., main argument and thesis), to rate themselves on how well they have developed their draft (e.g., use of evidence), and to pose questions for specific feedback from the instructor. Dedicated time in Section, or during Office Hours, can be set aside for feedback and further discussion on individual assignment drafts and self-assessments. If you desire, a preliminary grade on the assignment can be given to students as a marker of where their draft is vs. where they want it to be.
  3. Use Reflective Assignment Journals & Logs. While these can take on many forms, one example is to have students keep a log of their process for completing an assignment (#hrs/date/task), and then compose a short reflection detailing what worked about their process, what did not work, and what they will do differently next time. If the assignment has been broken down along the way, students can also reflect on how the product has progressed with each step.
  4. Simulate Preparation of Papers for Academic Panels. Students can submit papers simulating an academic conference panel. Start with a preliminary submission, drafts to professor (discussant) and require peers (fellow panelists to comment on papers/ensure papers are original and propose new ideas). Students can then present papers via a panel (oral presentations) with questions from the audience (class) and professor (discussant). Final papers can be due the day of the panel, or given a few extra days to make any revisions based on panel feedback.
  5. Utilize Portfolios (showing a collection of work). Ask students to submit all drafts and notes along with the final assignment.
  6. Ask Process-Oriented Questions. Provide assignment topics or examination questions that highlight concepts, theories or readings and the material discussed during class. In questioning about concepts, theories, readings and class discussion, at least part of the answer can require insight into, or explanation of, the student’s process when problem solving, applying course content to novel situations, or development of a proposal/new idea.
  7. Show & Share Your Own Processes. Show drafts and feedback loops for a publication of yours that was successfully submitted to an academic journal (or even a rejected submission if the feedback loop is heavy on process discussion). Talk candidly about how much time and effort it takes to get to the final product, while emphasizing the merits of the process. Oftentimes, hearing an experienced scholar discuss their process, and how academic integrity is ensure through it, can assist students in either adhering to, or developing their own, process for learning that ensures academic integrity.