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Blog 212

Blog 212

Lessons in Course Design to Help with Issues of Academic Integrity

By Ashley Nahornick

This blog post focuses on classroom strategies that aid with issues of academic integrity. From August 29- September 1, 2022, the Faculty of Science hosted our Second Annual Faculty of Science Academic Integrity Awareness Week. This included a deeply engaging Keynote by Dr. Laurie McNeil from the University of British Columbia, on “Knowledge is Power! - Strategies to Make Academic Integrity Meaningful and Accessible”, a presentation on Academic Integrity in the Faculty of Science @ York led by Associate Dean Mike Scheid, and a highly engaging instructor panel where six Science instructors shared lessons, they have learned about course design to help with issues of academic integrity. We did not record these events, as we wanted our panelists and participants to speak freely about issues of academic integrity. The main theme of the discussion was surrounding increasing student awareness of Academic Integrity, with a focus on upholding a commitment to working with integrity. Overall, the goal of the week was to prompt instructors to make small-scale changes in their teaching that will change some of the issue of academic integrity faced over the last few years at the university level.

What follows are suggestions of classroom strategies to help with issues of academic integrity and to share insight for all instructors at York University.

Explicit Teaching about Academic Integrity

  • Teach our students how to meet the expectation of academic integrity (spend time on the first class discussing this, and throughout the course)
  • Give students specifics about what’s OK and what’s not relevant to your course
  • Be sure to discuss contract cheating sites, and how they have predatory behaviour
  • Discuss with students the harm done by not working with integrity
  • Have students complete a course outline annotation activity including on the aspects of academic integrity
  • Have students complete a quiz on eClass on academic integrity before they can complete other assessments.

Course Design

  • Embed academic integrity in your course design
  • Include an academic integrity Learning Outcome
  • Teach our students the skills of academic integrity (i.e., paraphrasing, citations etc.) (This could include having student complete a module on academic integrity)
  • Provide students with resources to help with working with integrity (i.e., modules, library help, peer tutoring)


  • Create assessments that are specific to your course and not a general topic (i.e., cases studies, topics of the day)
  • Connect explicit instruction and explanation on academic integrity when it comes to assignments, essays, and tests.
  • For each assignment ask students how they can uphold academic integrity in this assignment
  • Provide students with just-in-time reminders in clear and simple language about academic integrity before an assignment or essay.
  • Allow for scaffolding with assignments (i.e., proposal, paper, presentation)
  • Try to include application/scenario questions in exams
  • Utilize peer review with a component that include Academic Integrity
  • Include post-submission self-reflection or assessments
  • Take time to reflect on your assessments as the instructor, and determine if they could be adjusted to prevent issues of academic integrity.


  • Be sure to hold office hours, and explain to students what office hours are for (Some people in the Faculty of Science, call them “Student Hours” to make it clearer that these hours are for students)
  • Share with students’ information on help available at York (i.e., writing center, library, peer tutoring)
  • Explain to them about toxic tutors

Asking Questions

  • Create a classroom culture where students are comfortable to ask questions about the academic integrity without negative repercussions.
  • Consider creating a discord channel for your class to ask questions related to Academic Integrity
  • Consider sending out an anonymous survey to your students to see if they have specific questions related to academic integrity.
  • Consider checking in with your TAs about questions they have related to academic integrity
  • Check-in with your students using a variety of methods (email, surveys, eclass forum, discord channel, through your TAs)

Additional Resources:

Yours in Teaching!

Ashley Nahornick

About the author

Ashley Nahornick is the educational development specialist for the Faculty of Science at York University, where she provided leadership for curriculum changes, innovations to pedagogy, and support for teaching and learning for instructors. She holds a Doctorate in Mathematics Education from Columbia University with a focus on adult learning, curriculum development and mathematics.