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2-Minute Mentor: Other Academic Misconduct

Other academic misconduct

  • What forms of academic misconduct might I encounter?
  • How should I react to them?
  • What impact does misconduct have on the learning environment?


Click below to watch CTE’s 2-Minute Mentor video on this topic:

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Other Academic Misconduct video transcript (doc)


Responding to disruptive behaviors

Incivility and misconduct disrupt learning. To keep your classroom environment positive, consider these suggestions from Mary Lord, reprinted in “Tomorrow’s Professor."

1. Halt bad behavior before it starts.
Set expectations early, in writing and verbally. Research shows that students are more likely to rationalize misconduct if they feel the instruction is poor, lecture confusing, or workload unreasonable. Underscoring the relevance of the material and learning objectives can boost motivation and reduce the urge to cheat.

2. Decrease anonymity.
Faculty who get to know their students tend to have less conflict in the classroom or hostile discourse online. Calling on students by name makes an instructor seem more approachable and thus more likely to gain their respect. Large lecture class? Scheduling time to meet individually with students can foster rapport.

3. Encourage active learning.
Classes that include peer-to-peer learning have fewer incidents of rude or unethical behavior, research indicates, because students tend to take more responsibility and hold each other accountable. Active learning and small-group work can reduce chatting and inattentiveness even in large classes. 

4. Make it harder to cheat.
The availability of solutions to textbook problems on the Internet makes it hard for educators to directly address cheating on homework. Consider research on the value of ungraded assignments, increasing the weight of projects, and either writing your own questions or swapping problems with instructors at other schools. Other studies have found that giving harsh warnings against cheating right before a test can reduce transgressions by 13 percent, with a 25 percent drop for writing multiple versions of a test. Meanwhile, plagiarism-detection software can cut down on copy-and-paste essays or computer code.

5. Establish ground rules for disruptive technologies.
Many students view smartphones and tablets as essential tools. To minimize withdrawal pains, on the first day of class you might discuss and then vote on rules and consequences for disruptive technologies. The most successful has been a two-minute texting/phone/email break in the middle of class.

6. If you can't beat 'em...
Tablets, smartphones, and other mobile technologies can be used to promote deeper engagement and understanding. For example, ask students to take notes on tablets, use smartphone accelerometer apps to track their commute to class and graph the data, and conduct hands-on mini-experiments using other free measurement apps. Students also can use their smart devices in independent projects - all without the college needing to invest heavily in infrastructure.

7. Address disruptive behavior immediately.
Faculty and students agree that ignoring incivility is the least effective approach for halting it. Think about talking to inattentive students in private or refocusing the class by using think/pair/share or other active-learning techniques. Severe disruptions, such as threats of violence, may leave faculty members no option but to stop the lecture and contact campus security.

In their teaching workshops, Richard M. Felder, a retired chemical engineering professor from North Carolina State University, and his wife, Rebecca Brent, ask participants to brainstorm responses to such everyday disruptions as students strolling in late, chatting loudly, or sleeping. Ironically, no one ever recommends asking the offenders politely but firmly to stop their rude behavior. "It's almost as if instructors don't know it's legal to do it," wrote Felder and Brent in a column. "It is legal. And it works." So does chiding. To look up from that Youtube video, students often need just one word: "Really?!"

Ways to promote academic integrity

McKeachie & Svinicki (2010) suggest the following as ways to promote academic integrity:

  • 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” (2010).


"Driven to Distraction." Tomorrow's Professor.

McKeachie, W.J. & Svinicki, M.D. (2011). McKeachies’teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers,,13th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


The following links provide more information related to other academic misconduct:

The Student Concern Review Team (SCRT) assists University of Kansas students, faculty and staff who have concerns about a specific student's behavior and don't know where to turn.

CTE’s Keys to Civility.

KU Policies and Procedures can be found at

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