An Honest View on Academic Integrity Essay Outline
A. Studies affirm that many students engage in academic dishonesty such as plagiarism.
1. Students attain academic success through plagiarism
2. Academic dishonesty became a norm in the academic community
B. There is a conflicting view on whether plagiarism, copying, or collaboration on student’s work is ethical or not.
1. Students and faculty have different views and justifications for this behavior
2. A Christian student should view the issue in light of God’s word
C. Thesis Statement: Regardless of any justification such as situational and intellectual conditions of students, the indiscriminate system of education, the way of professionals outside academic community, the fallen society, and the word of God, a Christian student should conform to the rules of academic integrity.
A. Academic dishonesty is a reality that students justify.
1. Students are compelled by competition within academics
2. Students have various cultural and educational backgrounds
3. Students experience various circumstances of great difficulties
B. Academic dishonesty should be prevented.
1. Faculty should redesign system or structure of coursework
2. Faculty should model honest and ethical behaviors
3. Assignments and assessments should be according to student’s learning capabilities
A. Academic integrity is personally challenging.
1. I am a mother of 3, a worker, and a student
2. I prefer learner-oriented assignments
B. Cheating is also unlawful in God’s sight.
1. Jeremiah 23:30 talks about copying from each other
2. Exodus 20:15 and 20:17 speaks of steal and coveting properties of other people
C. Copying can be considered ethical
1. Copying behavior is determined by situation and reason of the student
2. Student who copies should still study on his or her own what was copied
3. Other people outside academic community also commit copying
A. The student should conform to the rules on plagiarism
1. The student under academic community and is subject to it
2. Proper citation and referencing should be observed
B. The student should do his or her responsibility
1. Studying carefully whatever was copied
2. Making others’ work as mere references and not as his or her own
A. Academic integrity is the Christian student’s witness
1. The Christian student preserves society from moral degradation of society
2. Matthew 6 speaks of being the salt and light to the world
3. Matthew 6 says that it glorifies God
B. The Christian student should obey academic policies
1. Society is unfair but the student should still obey
2. Romans 13:1 commands the Christian to obey public authorities
3. The Christian should obey as to the Lord
C. The Christian student should have a right perspective on society
1. The inconsistencies of society only proves that this is a fallen world
2. The imperfection of society simply makes the student not love the world
3. The imperfect society simply makes the Christian student long for new heavens and new earth
Robert asked his girlfriend – a classmate in one of his classes – to help him with his research paper. The girl guided him in structuring the research paper, building strong and clear sentences, and correcting grammar mistakes. In the end, it turned out that the girl did all of the work. Robert submitted the paper to the professor and got a high score. Studies affirm that there are innumerable students who engage in this so-called “unethical” learning activity, and they have been able to achieve academic success and completion through it. As a result, academic integrity has been a norm in the learning environment. While educational institutions and faculty members continue in the endeavor to put an end to this activity, arguing that cheating is unethical and will result in negative consequences, there is a set of views, coming from students, teachers, and other people, that raise the question, “Is it really unethical?” Given the opposing views about the issue, there seems to be some confusing consideration on what to implement and what needs to be changed. As a Christian student, it is important to also view the issue in light of God’s Word and the world. Regardless of any justification such as situational and intellectual conditions of students, the indiscriminate system of education, the way of professionals outside academic community, the fallen society, and the word of God, a Christian student should conform to the rules of academic integrity.
The article, Utilizing a Culture of Trust to Promote Academic Integrity by Hulsart and McCarthy, begins by considering some reasons students engage in academic dishonesty such as plagiarism, cheating in exams, cheating with fellow students, and so on. Various arguments given are the following: students are compelled by the fierce competition within academics; students come from various cultural and educational backgrounds; and students engage in cheating depending on the circumstances involved (Hulsart & McCarthy, 2011). Although there is a contradicting understanding of academic integrity in both students and teachers, the faculty perceived those reasons or arguments as deceiving. The article provides a guideline on making a particular classroom climate or environment that will lessen, if not eliminate, the possibilities of academic dishonesty of the students. The first responsibility is given to the faculty and other educational leaders, signifying the need for them to act as models of integrity, clarity and consistency in communication, honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, and other ethical behaviors. The next emphasis is given to the system or structure of the coursework, suggesting that “a paradigm shift in instructional and assessment pedagogy is needed” (Hulsart & McCarthy, 2011, p. 94). The assignments and assessments should be created in a manner that allows the student to creatively present individual content knowledge. The article concludes that, aside from being vigilant in monitoring exams and checking for plagiarism, the faculty should redesign the coursework in a way that allows the student to work on his own learning capabilities.
In reflection, I find this very challenging since my situation, as a mother of 3, a worker, and a student, truly gives great difficulty to do assignments and assessments. Thankfully, as the latter part of the article also discussed, the structure of the assignments I have are adult learner-oriented. It allows me to work on them in relation to myself (i.e. my own life, my own convenience and situation, etc.). Regarding academic integrity, it is right to say that cheating and plagiarism is not just unethical, but also unlawful in the sight of God. The Bible said, “behold, I am against the prophets,’ declares the Lord, ‘who steal My words from one another” (Jer. 23:30). In addition, Exodus 20:15 and 20:17 speaks of the sinful act of stealing and coveting the property of others. However, I dare say that the ethics of copying from other’s work can also be determined by the situation and reason of the student. For instance, if the student copies from the work of others, or even let others work on his or her behalf, simply because of laziness, then that is definitely unethical. On the other hand, if the student seeks help from others because of an emergency or insufficient means to do the work (e.g. the student is also working fulltime at work and at home), I can say that his or her action is justifiable – as long as he or she studies carefully that which was copied so that he or she still fulfills the duty of learning. Besides, the society, particularly the professional community, works in that way as well. At work, a person is not prevented from looking for answers from others unlike what happens to students most in their exams at school. Further, teachers copy strategies from other teachers, businessmen copy business plans from others, governments copy constitutional matters from others, and this goes one the same with other aspects of society. What matters is that these people know for themselves what they are copying.
In application, the duty of the student is to conform to the rules on plagiarism and academic honesty. In working with my own assignments and assessments, the proper citations and referencing should be observed accordingly. Moreover, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, society itself works similarly as students do, but I am a student under the academic environment. Thus, I am called to obey whatever educational institutions have implemented for the students, and then work on my own according to the means I have. However, in cases where I will be compelled to seek help from others (e.g. during emergency situations or due to learning disabilities), I must do it the right way. If I am to copy from others, I should be well knowledgeable of what has been copied so that I will be able to even explain it myself (i.e. in my own words), thereby still doing my part as a learner. Further, in the case of learning disability, and thereby having others (family, friends, etc.) do the work of research and explanation, I should use their work as mere references for me to understand that which I cannot on my own. Their work should be considered merely as a material that will help me build my own.
Regardless of any justification such as situational and intellectual conditions of students, the indiscriminate system of education, the way of professionals outside academic community, the fallen society, and the word of God, a Christian student should conform to the rules of academic integrity. First, being an example of honesty and faithfulness in academics is also one thing that makes a Christian preserve society from ethical and moral degradation. Matthew 6:13 speaks of this, implying that if the Christian fails to preserve the society, he/she is useless and is not doing the will of God. It even adds, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:16). Second, the student should obey the rules even though some, if not all, implementations of academic integrity measures seem unfair and unreasonable due to academic pressures, diverse intellectual capabilities and cultural backgrounds of students, and the indiscriminate way of society. Paul clearly says, “Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13:1, emphasis added). The Christian student should submit to whatever was implemented as to the Lord. Third, the unreasonable challenges of academics and the society (i.e. if one is not good in education, he is despicable and irrelevant in society) simply affirms that this fallen world and society is not perfect. It only makes the Christian long for the second coming of Christ and of His kingdom, where everything will be fair, perfect, and without any blemish of human inequality and social inconsistencies (cf. Col. 3:1; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:4-5).
Hulsart, R., & McCarthy, V. (2011). Utilizing a culture of trust to promote academic integrity. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 59, 92-96.