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Tips on upholding academic integrity: “It is important to start by establishing a climate of trust in our students”

Academic integrity is everyone’s responsibility. The concept of academic integrity must be part of the teaching and learning process and an aspiration of the entire school community. From a young age, IB students are expected to be able to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong and achieve and, in developing the IB learner profile attributes, should always aim to be “principled. 

Three IB educators from around the globe have shared tips for fellow educators and for students on how to uphold academic integrity in the classroom and during assessments. 

Rima Singh is Head of School at DPS International in Gurgaon, India.
Justyna McMillan is a Diploma Programme Coordinator from International School Bangkok in Thailand.
Fairuz Saba Cafferata is Head of Studies and Diploma Programme Coordinator at Villa Caritas School in Peru.

In your opinion, why does academic integrity matter?  

Rima: “I feel that academic integrity is an extension of one’s own personal integrity integrity and hence professional success. It is a fundamental value and consistently upholding it during their school life will better prepare students for the world of work and future successes.” 

Justyna: “It teaches students about honesty and trust. It is important to show that you have done the work yourself, while also valuing and acknowledging the work of others and how this has come to play a role in one’s own research. Clear conversations about academic integrity with students allows them to approach their studies in an ethical and honest way, and helps them make the good decision that upholds both personal values and those of a wider community.” 

Fairuz: “It is is a fundamental pillar in a real learning process. It helps develop citizens who are capable of acting ethically and with commitment, and, in this way, generate a positive impact on society. This approach is fundamental in a digital world saturated with information, that requires people who have the skills and values necessary to discern, act ethically and seek the truth from the exploration of different perspectives.” 

What are your top tips for students to uphold academic integrity?  


  1. “Don’t forget the importance of planning your work properly and with due anticipation and ensure you clarify instructions before beginning an investigation process. 
  2. Collect reliable sources of information and seek to identify the author of the information. The practice of taking notes from books, websites or articles must include the origin of the source. Direct downloading of information with no reference might lead to misconduct.  
  3. Request feedback from teachers – this can help provide security throughout the process and delineate a clear path to proper research.” 

Rima: “We make the students understand that integrity, honesty, and being ethical aren’t values that one should live by when it’s convenient. They are values that one should live by all the time. You should always try to develop relationships with others who live with integrity.  

Integrity applies to the big choices and the little choices we make in our lives including choices which are visible to all and also those which are not. 

I share a strategy, I had learnt as a young child, with the students – if you’re in a dilemma about a choice to make, I suggest taking some quiet time to weigh the choices you have and ask yourself these two questions: 

  1. If I make this choice, will I feel fine with myself later? 
  2. If my choice is printed on the front page of the newspaper for everyone to see, would I feel comfortable?’ 


Do you have any tips that educators may find useful to help uphold academic integrity in their classrooms? 

Justyna:I think it is really important to be clear and consistent when it comes to academic integrity. It is the responsibility of everyone in the school to uphold this. Teachers need to ensure they have clear expectations and should model good behaviour themselves.” 

Rima: “Living with integrity should be a way of life for educators. You could build moral vocabulary in classrooms, use quotes to build meaningful conversations around truth and fairness, model values of honesty and integrity, inspire students to believe in their work, remind them of the ways in which cheating can affect their academic lives and future career opportunities. We cannot assume that the students know how to reference. This has to be taught explicitly in an age-appropriate manner. 

Fairuz: “It is important to start by establishing a climate of trust in our students. Promoting academic integrity must be based on this and cannot be a straitjacket that generates tension in the classroom. As teachers, we are called to trust our students and to form in them the values necessary for acceptable academic practice. Constant reflection, through metacognition or collaborative work can greatly support this process.” 

 How do you manage cases of student misconduct?  

Fairuz: “We have clearly established protocols in our policy of academic integrity that allow us to address cases of lack of academic integrity from a formative perspective, allowing the student to be able to recognize the fault committed, to amend it and encourage processes of change to inappropriate behaviour. This implies, as part of the process, being able to assume the responsibility that comes with a bad practice in relation to academic integrity. We also seek to generate specific training spaces so that all students can act responsibly and not fall into mistakes, often because of ignorance or lack of clarity about the importance of acting in an integral way in the academic field.” 

Justyna: “We have a clear academic integrity policy that we use and consistently apply, and take academic integrity seriously. We do hope that students learn from their mistakes and so have an escalation built into our policy that allows the student to learn from an initial case of academic misconduct. Usually, students don’t make the same mistake again, due to the warning and learning associated with that first step.”  

Rima: “Corrective measures are taken which could include counselling and providing an opportunity to reform the wrong act. Consequences are given as per school’s academic integrity policy. If anything is detected during the Turnitin (a plagiarism software) check, students are asked to redo the work.” 

Learn more about the IB’s approach to academic integrity.