While some students come from middle and high school situations where cheating is common, Samford University is stressing the value of academic integrity in a positive way--through student peers.
Samford's Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership has put together a program that appoints a group of students to be Academic Integrity Advocates. Their role is to help develop ways to reach other students, especially incoming freshmen, about the value of good academic behavior.
Is the program working?
"The program is doing a good job of educating students, which reduces the 'I didn't know that was considered cheating' factor," said Lydia Nace, a student who serves as an Academic Integrity Advocate.
She noted that the advocates are working to fulfill a Student Government Senate resolution to write an honor code for Samford. She said the advocates program will continue to take steps toward informing students about academic integrity "and how to respond to the new pressures of academic performance in college."
Nace was part of a group of students leading a Sept. 20 convocation on the topic, "When Winning is Losing: How Not To Get Ahead at Samford." They spoke at a freshmen convocation in Reid Chapel as part of the Mann Center's Courageous Conversations Series.
"The series encourages students to engage in moral discourse on difficult, yet critical issues," said Azalea Hulbert, Mann Center program director.
"Since many students come from schools where cheating is the norm, we feel it is very important to remind them, once they are here, that we have high standards at Samford and that we expect students to do their work honestly and with integrity," said Dr. John Knapp, Mann Center director.
"It is very powerful to hear upperclassmen reminding new students that a Samford degree really means something, and that it is essential to get in the habit of doing honest work."
The Mann Center attempts to remind students of the value of academic integrity in other ways. It continuously develops an online resource center with helpful materials on academic integrity for students and faculty. It also collaborates with the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) and other universities to identify new approaches and best practices in addressing academic integrity.
Knapp and Hulbert will present a program on the topic at the ICAI annual conference in November. And Samford will host the first Southeast Regional Academic Integrity Conference coming up next spring.