Promoting Academic Integrity in An Online Classroom

Online education offers a lot of freedom for your family. With flexible timelines and schedules, you and your children have the opportunity to visit family, experience cultural events, and tailor their class time to suit your needs in a way that traditional schools simply cannot do. However, one aspect of online school that requires a bit more attention is the topic of academic integrity. Academic integrity refers to your commitment to honest and moral behavior in an academic setting. Here are some tips to help you navigate the issue of academic integrity as you navigate your online learning experience:

  • Think in the long term,
  • Set expectations and standards with your student, and
  • Respect your student’s academic needs.

Think In The Long Term

Your long-term goals for your student most likely include seeing them graduate with the ability to think independently, use the information they’ve learned in their future, and grow to be a productive member of society. One reason academic integrity is essential for families at Excel High School to address is that we all want your child’s future to be built on a solid foundation of work ethic, honesty, and core knowledge.

The work ethic they are developing as a student at EHS can help them the minute they walk onto campus, join military service, or enter the workforce. Learning how to pace themselves without an “easy way out” mentality can build a work ethic often lost in traditional schools. This gives your student an advantage as they move beyond middle and high school.

However, if they are simply “Googling” their way through assignments at the last minute because they were scrolling through social media or playing games online instead of working on classwork, they will be at a severe disadvantage. That’s why emphasizing their need to learn the value of honesty and foundational academic knowledge will benefit them in the long run. 

Plagiarism and cheating are no joke, and any student who has been kicked out of college or any professional who has lost their career to the act of stealing other’s intellectual property or taking the “easy way out” will attest to that. Being sure that your student understands the long-term ramifications of this negative behavior is a start, but teaching them the benefits of the foundation of honesty and core academic knowledge is even more important.

Without the skills they are learning in middle and high school, every other step along the way is made more difficult. Students who are engaged in their studies and who have family members who demonstrate to them the application of what they are learning are the ones who excel beyond high school. Parents who turn a blind eye to the importance of academic integrity tend to regret that choice later on down the road. Your guidance is essential in the growth and development of your child’s academic career and the direction of their self-respect.

Set Expectations & Standards With Your Student

How do you make sure you and your student are on the same page? It’s as simple as a sit-down conversation. Take some time to outline what your expectations are. Preventing the temptation to cheat or take the easy way out is the key, so here are some guiding questions to help you make sure you’re all on the same track:

  • What is your student’s plan for after graduation and how will their current courses help them achieve this goal?
  • How will you as a family make sure your student’s deadlines are reached without having to rush and be tempted to “Google” instead of to learn?
  • To avoid frustration, what will you as a family do to make sure distractions are minimal during school time?
  • Where can your student go when they need to focus?
  • What do you define as acceptable use of technology during school time?
  • Who will help your student review their notes before an exam?
  • When and how will you monitor your student’s progress, meaning accumulation of knowledge and not just scores? How often will you test their knowledge one-on-one?
  • Where will your student store their extra electronic devices when taking tests?
  • Who is willing to check over writing assignments before submission?
  • What will the results be if your student is found to be in violation of the school’s academic integrity policy?

These guiding questions will help your student develop open communication about your expectations and how you will work as a team to ensure they are getting the most out of their education in an honest environment where academic integrity is held in high regard.

Respect Your Student’s Academic Needs

Every child is different, and no one knows this more than the parent or guardian of a teenager. What worked for you when you were in high school is mostly likely not going to be the same as what works for your student. Most students today prefer to listen to music with earbuds in while working on their coursework, and studies have found that most kids today actually perform better when we allow them these freedoms.

What works best for your child? When you sit down to discuss your expectations and standards, it’s also a good idea to figure out what your child needs, too. Do they need everyone to leave for a while when they’re taking an important exam? Is that the time when everyone simply needs to take some time doing quiet activities?

Do they need more guidance when working on writing assignments to be sure they are not accidentally plagiarizing, or are they the kid who just needs everyone to leave them to it and let them soar? Talking to your student about their needs will help them understand that you value their education, and they will learn how important their academics must be to them as well. 

This outward exhibition of valuing your child’s academic life is a wonderful way to support your student and actively demonstrate the importance of academic integrity. When we respect academics, we pass that on to our children.

In the end, academic integrity is essential for students to understand and value both in the short term and as they progress through life. Parents and guardians are where this foundation is emphasized, held up, and passed on. Start with the conversation and help your child grow to be a responsible, trustworthy adult with loads of self-respect and knowledge to guide them along the way.

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