Academic Integrity

The topic of academic integrity is often framed around misconduct and dishonesty, carrying both negative and punitive connotations. However, the dialogue is shifting towards an approach that is educative, preventative, and positive in promoting student success. With that shifting focus in mind, this page brings together information from a variety of sources across campus that promote academic integrity from multiple perspectives.

Read more to find out about ways to encourage academic integrity in your courses, what to do when a breach in academic integrity is suspected, and what students need to know regarding ensuring academic integrity, consequences of a breach, and procedures to follow if suspected of a breach in academic integrity.

How is Academic Integrity Defined at UC Berkeley?

There is no single agreed upon definition of academic integrity at UC Berkeley. However, most definitions found in the literature and across higher education institutions consider academic integrity to entail honesty, responsibility, and openness to both scholarship and scholarly activity.

The University defines academic misconduct as “any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community” (UC Berkeley Code of Student Conduct).

There is more detailed information related to this definition of academic integrity in the Code of Student Conduct.

See our Campus Policies page for a link to the relevant Berkeley policy.

Review the UC Berkeley Honor Code.

What does Academic Integrity Look Like?

There are countless examples of what academic misconduct and dishonesty look like, and how to avoid them, but too rarely are we given examples (or provide students with examples) of academic integrity, and how to ensure it. Whether it is a matter of semantics or framing, it is helpful to think about academic integrity from a goal-oriented perspective - something we strive to achieve - versus an avoidance perspective where it is something we merely guard against out of fear or anxiety. 

Depending on the discipline, instructor preference, goals for student learning, and the nature of the course itself, here are some examples of what academic integrity can look like:

  • In a class where collaboration is an essential skill to learn, and knowledge is collectively constructed or discovered, students work in small groups on homework assignments in a peer-to-peer learning model. Students still turn in homework individually.

  • In a writing intensive class, papers are broken up into smaller pieces or several drafts to solicit feedback on the use of and proper credit to the work of others and their ideas - addressing misunderstandings before a summative assignment is due.

  • In an upper division course, students are encouraged to draw on their previous and complementary coursework in articulating an emerging theoretical framework or analysis through appropriate citation of text and ideas from previous/concurrent writing assignments.

Academic Integrity Through Course Design

Learning environments that reduce the incentive and opportunity for students to cheat can also increase their motivation and mastery of course material. Many times, academic integrity and success are the result of careful planning, preparation, and awareness of resources on the part of the student. In addition to the list below of five potential aspects of a course designed to promote academic integrity and student learning, we have developed an assignment that can be given to students very early in a semester to help chart a Roadmap to Success in any given class.

-Adapted from Lang, J. (2013). Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press. (Available online via the UC Berkeley Library)

Foster Students' Intrinsic Motivation

  • Instead of thinking about a course as covering certain content in a field, frame the course as an opportunity for students to master the content through engaging open-ended, authentic problems, questions, or challenges.

  • Engage students in the course through articulating (by both you and them) the relevance of the course material to their current lives, the local community, or their future professions

Place Emphasis on Learning for Mastery Over Performance

  • Provide students with choices in how they demonstrate learning, whether via options within an assignment or options of assignments, to encourage focus on mastery learning over performance 

Use Frequent, Low-Stakes Assessments

  • Incorporate short breaks in a class, or in the very beginning or end, to ask students questions about content understanding and connections between course material

  • Decrease the pressure on each assignment as a motivation for dishonesty - in so doing, enable feedback on learning throughout a course, and build student self-efficacy...

Build Student Self-Efficacy

  • The belief that one is able to achieve the learning expectations of a course diminishes motivation for dishonesty, so instead of using early assignments to "weed students out," try to give students opportunities for early success (rigorous, but achievable)

  • Convey to students what it takes to be successful in a course (perhaps even quoting effective strategies/practices from former students who excelled in the course) 

Prepare Students for Ethical Considerations in the Field/Profession

  • Introduce students to what it means to have integrity as a psychologist, economist, historian, biologist, etc. and explain why integrity in the field matters

  • Discuss case studies from the field that reflect both ethical and unethical motives and their outcomes to give students a sense of why developing a habit of integrity in their work now will matter after they graduate

Honor Code Exam Example

Ways to Incorporate the Honor Code in Your Syllabus

Understanding Cultural Logic

Jason Patent