Graduate Resources for First-Time Instructors

Preparing your syllabus and your remarks for the first week of class

  • Prior to the start of the semester, contact your department to obtain the academic integrity information that is required for inclusion in your syllabus. This information is provided to departments, by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, prior to the start of the semester.
  • In addition to including information about academic integrity and the Smeal Honor Code in your syllabus, discuss these topics on the first day of class and be explicit about how all of this applies to specific aspects of your course. Do not assume that all students understand terms such as “academic integrity,” “unauthorized collaboration,” and “plagiarism.” Plan an activity or exercise to reinforce these topics; talk to Honor and Integrity Director Michelle Darnell ( for ideas.
  • Define and communicate your integrity expectations for classroom behavior, assignments, and exams in your syllabus and on the first day of class (e.g., no technology, no collaboration on assignments unless otherwise advised). Do not assume that all students automatically understand and subscribe to your expectations.
  • On the second day of class, consider administering a short quiz about the syllabus, course expectations, and/or the Honor Code.
  • Encourage your students to participate in the semi-annual Honor Code signing. In fact, you may wish to incorporate the signing experience into your class meeting time. If this interests you, contact the Honor & Integrity Office at to coordinate a time to sign the Honor Code.

Assessing student learning and protecting the integrity of your classroom throughout the semester

  • Revisit your integrity expectations, particularly when explaining assignments and before a deliverable is submitted for evaluation. Be specific about your expectations. For example, if students should complete an assignment on their own, or if students should not use outside resources to complete an assignment, state and explain these policies and, importantly, the reasons for them, when the deliverable is assigned.
  • Require students to sign the Academic Integrity Pledge for all deliverables. Position the pledge at the beginning of the deliverable (research finds that it is more effective at curbing cheating when you do so):

Academic Integrity Pledge

“I _____________________________________________________________________ affirm that I have not and will not give or receive unauthorized aid on this deliverable and I will complete this work honestly and according to the instructor’s guidelines.”

  • If you administer exam(s) in your course, consider all of the following to safeguard against incidents of academic integrity:

Share the exam topics with the class, and post practice exams on ANGEL.

Change exam and quiz questions regularly. If you are teaching multiple sections of the same course, require students of different sections to take the exam at the same time (if possible), and use assigned seats. If not, use different but comparable versions of exams and quizzes in each section (e.g., use different questions, scramble the questions and answers).

Where possible, use essay/case exams rather than multiple choice exams.

Encourage students to review their exams during office hours, rather than returning exams in class.

  • If you require writing assignments, consider all of the following to safeguard against incidents of academic integrity:

 Encourage students to utilize the citation and writing guides available at
Encourage students to meet with a writing tutor through Penn State Learning (
Use a plagiarism detection software, such as Turnitin. To do this, you can upload an ANGEL dropbox into Turnitin. For information,

  • For homework assignments or group projects, require deliverables to be submitted via ANGEL, so that they may be time-stamped.
  • For group and/or team projects, provide students with the opportunity to share confidential feedback on their group members’ contributions. From written feedback to an online evaluation form, there are a number of ways for feedback to be facilitated, depending on the size of the class.

Developing productive student-teacher interactions

  • Encourage students to share their ethical concerns and openly share your concerns.
  • If you suspect that a student has completed a deliverable, inconsistent with the Honor Code, visit the Integrity website to follow the academic integrity process ( Even if the sanction is a warning only, it is important to still submit the Academic Integrity Form. If you have questions and/or concerns about the process, contact your department chair—they are here to support you.
  • “Quietly recognize” those students who bring an incident of academic integrity to your attention. You may share their name with Honor and Integrity Director Jennifer Eury and she will work with the Dean’s Office to send a thank you card to the student.

Designing your course and integrating integrity into the curriculum

  • Create assignments whereby students can practice their ethical decision-making skills. For example, if you assign students a case study to read, ask students to also define the ethical implications of certain outcomes. Talk to Honor and Integrity Director Jennifer Eury for other ideas.
  • Begin each class session (or one class session each week) with a discussion of a current event, highlighting an ethical dilemma facing an organization and/or industry in your discipline.
  • If you have limited time to discuss current events in class, share ethics-related news stories with your students via ANGEL. By connecting the importance of integrity in the professional workplace to classroom subject matter, you contribute to the development of students’ ethical mindset.